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Things I Assumed I Needed to Start a Consulting Business

Days into starting my own business, I sat down at my newly acquired desk and wrote down a list of things. Things I assumed I needed to purchase immediately to be in business. While I lost the list at some point in the past decade, I remember three things about it; it totaled more than $10,000, was quite lengthy, and I have yet to purchase anything on it. While I don’t remember everything on the list, I do remember a handful:

4 Things I Assumed I Needed But Didn’t

  • An office outside my house
    For the first few years I was in business, I toured office spaces and frequently spent days not working in my home office – always assuming that I’d find a place more comfortable and productive. I mean, all artists have a studio, right? It took 3 moves and 7 years, now my home office is my most comfortable and productive place.
  • A Chair
    For the last 2 years, since converting my desk to a standing desk, Markus has been in the closet, loaded with baby clothes. After losing the desk chair I also lost chronic neck pain and extreme late afternoon fatigue.
  • Buying Software from Adobe
    I’ve never been a fan of any of Adobe’s software, but always assumed I’d have to purchase Creative Suite, if not just InDesign, or at least a library of fonts. Turns out – none of it. Between open source software and far less expensive software – I’ve never actually needed to purchase anything from Adobe. These days, not even Acrobat Reader is on my machines.
  • Business Cards
    When I started out, I had a friend-of-a-friend letterpress some gorgeous business cards. Then I ran out, got distracted, and realized that capturing the other person’s info and following up is a more efficient way to initiate a relationship. After that -contact info is in the phone and email logs.

While this first list is pretty useful, there’s also a second, perhaps a more important, list. This is the list I wish I had when I started out.

4 Things I Didn’t Know I Needed

  • A Regular Schedule
    I start my day sometime between 8:30-9am, and I conclude it sometime between 4:30-5pm. Monday through Friday. Each days’ activities are scheduled at least 3 days in advance in iCal. This provides just enough structure to switch into my work mindset.
  • To Get Outside for a Walk Everyday
    Even a short 15 minute walk is enough to get some fresh air, change the perspective, and return refreshed.
  • A Hobby or Two
    Think of it as cross-training your brain. Different activities exercise different aspects of your grey matter. Creative solutions come from mixing different concepts in a new way. Hobbies build up other skills and insights that will only serve your work. Plus, they provide a nice place to rebuild small success when burnt out looms.
  • A Giant Wall Calendar
    All my most important milestones are on the wall calendar right behind my desk. I review it at least twice a day, so much more accessible at a glance than anything electronic.
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    E-Book Journalism: A Discussion on Delivering News via Digital Books

    On Wednesday, May 15, 6:30pm, at the Loft Literary Center I’ll be joining Kaeti Hink, Steve Laliberte, Kate Parry, and Dan Haugen on panel discussing e-books and how journalists can leverage them for longer form, in-depth work. It’s a free event open to the public sponsored by the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists. See you there.