Thursday, 13 February 2014

SyncIpswich January Review: From Employee to Business Owner

I don’t get to SyncIpswich as often as I’d like. It’s a shame because they’re such a friendly crowd, especially when you consider I’m from across the border. Carl Farmer has been running SyncIpswich at the Eastern Enterprise Hub for ten months now and he’s doing an excellent job.

There were about 30 people there to hear Jason Firth. In my experience this is a good number for a January event. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the proximity to Christmas and the New Year, I don’t know, but people just don’t seem to like coming out in January or February. Tonight wasn’t helped by the fact the venue wasn’t ready and was locked up when Carl arrived. We could see the lack of lights as we walked across from the far side of the bay. It was rather disconcerting. However when we arrived we were directed to the bar to wait, where we roughed it.

It was clear from the moment he shook my hand and beamed that Jason Firth “wasn’t from round here.” Now living locally, he was at SyncIpswich to inspire, inform and entertain us with his story.

Jason decided to leave Sheffield in South Yorkshire and take up a position with a risk management consultancy firm who needed a Sharepoint expert. He knew he would be made redundant within two to three years and the notice came on Christmas Eve. He didn’t tell his wife until Boxing Day!

Jason faced redundancy with a little apprehension as up to this point he had been in a well paid, low stress job. By the end of his gardening leave he had formed Mindpoint, with a logo designed by his children and secured his first client. Since then he hasn’t looked back and work has come to him. Mindpoint have just secured a contract with Jaguar.

It wasn’t all plain sailing. Knowing nothing about setting up a business, Jason was ripped of by about £1000 just to set up a company. He later found a local accountant, who was willing and able to provide the necessary flexibility, while they were both out walking their dogs. He received a lot of advice along they way from friends and from business coaches, a lot of which turned out to be bad advice. The one good thing to come out of speaking to a business coach was a recommendation for a book, The E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber. This led Jason on to read a lot of similar, very useful books.

Jason went on to tell us the thing every client must have: money. He never works for free and if a client cannot tell him what their budget is he just walks away. He even charges for the initial workshop with clients. It demonstrates how good he is. Always avoid the “Yorkshire Bargain hunters”, people who want something for nothing.

Mindpoint was so successful that after three years Jason had paid off his mortgage.

If you take nothing else from this, make sure you go away understanding that Jason is a successful businessman. My opinion is that his success is due to his own drive and strong focus. He knows what he wants and isn’t prepared to compromise. (Did I mention he was from Yorkshire?). Those of us who want to be successful in business can learn a lot from him.

Jason’s slides are available here.

Originally published on the Norfolk Tech Journal.

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