• I’ve been speaking to an agency how we might work together over the longer term, rather than just on a project-by-project basis, and it made me think about what I want from this solo working. I realised that I’m very reluctant to get into working for a day-rate for any significant length of time. That’s because doing so limits what I can earn, but it’s also because it sets me up as a cost to whoever I’m working with. I’d much rather find a way to generate some new value together, then split the upside – so to take a risk, but have a better potential reward at the end of it. That way, things feel like a partnership, and I don’t feel like a cost.

    So I’ve been thinking about ways to make part of my fees fixed, and the rest variable and success-contingent. It’s tricky to get right, but I think it’s possible to do in the context I’m working in here, where the engagement is months-long and where I’m adding a clearly defined new capability to the agency, with clearly attributable upside.

  • I had a great meeting with a director at a large investment bank about an idea for a product that I’m developing around commercial due diligence. I really like how open people in the finance world are to meetings; I guess so much of their work involves networking that it would almost be mad for them not to have a coffee with you. But it’s still an interesting contrast compared to other industries I’ve worked in, where access is much more tightly constrained. I’d like to maintain that same kind of openness myself. (Putting my money where my mouth is: if you ever want a coffee, email me and I’ll say yes.)

  • One of the things that’s really struck me since working solo is how much time I have for work, even accounting for all the time I have to spend in my CRM system, my email client and bloody Xero. The amount of my time spent in meetings versus actually working has fallen dramatically. The reasons for that aren’t a mystery: I’m no longer managing people, I’m no longer on the management team or board of a larger business, I’m more often working on solo projects without lots of team mates to coordinate with, and it’s these things that normally absorb time. But it’s certainly refreshing, it makes me slightly regretful of the proportion of my time that I’ve spent in meetings over the years, and I’m pretty sure it’s a heck of a lot better for my clients, too.

  • Sadly the whisky pitch I mentioned a few weeks ago was unsuccessful. I wrote before about the double-edged sword that is pitching, and this is clearly the downside of it. Thankfully we hadn’t invested too much time and resource in this one before finding out, and the client was very gracious, but it still stings a little. (I imagine if it doesn’t sting it’s because you didn’t care, which is rubbish for a different reason.)