‘Happy birthday to us, happy birthday to us’ – 4D Projects is ten years old this week.
Hard to believe as I glance around our new 3,000sq foot offices that in September 2004 I was sitting at my kitchen table – the cafe taking my deliveries, the corner shop sending my faxes – wondering whether I’d made a giant mistake…
As we tend to like the number four, I thought I would share four important lessons learnt as we were starting up. And if you’re thinking of going it alone … good luck!
1. Talk to everyone
Make sure your network knows you are available for work. And I mean everyone. You’ll be amazed where work will come from – someone you met at a dinner party tells their mate about you, your old boss needs a job doing fast – but they won’t get in touch if they don’t know you’re an option.
2. Have coffee and think ‘what can I do to help this person?’
That’s right. Set out to help other people – not to help your business. If you are providing a solution to someone else’s problem then you are valuable. I still try to run the company on this basis.
3. Be prepared
I met the Head of the Building Centre, Andrew Scoones, and invited myself for coffee with him. We spent ten minutes talking about general stuff and then he said ‘Right Kim, what can I do for you?’. I couldn’t think of one thing! You might see this story as a missed opportunity but actually it was an important lesson. Think around any meeting before you get there.
4. Over-service your clients, but make sure you charge them
People just don’t appreciate free stuff so don’t work for nothing, even for friends. Business is all about value; add value, over-service and make yourself indispensible. Then clients come back, hopefully again and again.