Somehow, it's already March 2023, and past time for another update on the progress of my consulting business. Excitingly, it's going pretty well so far!
After my launch in November, my focus for the last two months of 2022 was on building a basic version of the business, and promoting myself in order to generate inbound work. In 2023, I've shifted gears to focus on longer-term client work. So far the project I'm working on has been great fun, and has accelerated my timeline for achieving my initial business goals. Naturally, however, this focus on client work has impacted my available time for writing content and promoting my brand - hence the quarterly, rather than monthly, update.
Taking stock of my initial business goals, progress has been promising. This gives me a good footing for continuing with the consulting experiment, and increases my confidence that moving into the world of self-employment was the right choice.
♻️ Create sustainable revenue
- ✅ Reach an average revenue of £5000 / month - With the client work I've taken on so far in 2023, I've managed to hit my initial revenue goal from February onwards. However, in order to maintain a steady revenue stream, I need to continue to broaden and diversify my client base.
- ✅ Maintain a 4-day work schedule - I've kept my client commitments within my 4-day work schedule. Having now maintained this schedule since the launch of my consultancy, I feel very validated to find that it works effectively for me and for clients. The shorter working week means that I'm focussed and energised each day, and I feel that I'm delivering a lot of value as a result. The three days away from work give me plenty of time to rest, sort out non-work chores and responsibilities, and enjoy time with my friends and family.
🌱 Help organisations that align with my values
- ✅ 100% of clients pass the 'credible argument for good' test - The long-term client project I've been working on this quarter is in the renewable energy sector, and so comfortably meets this metric. I'm continuing to use this metric as a barometer for taking on new work.
✨ Build a reputation for excellence
- 100% of clients would like to work with me again - I don't have enough data here because I haven't completed work with many clients yet. I'm doing my best to make sure that my current clients would answer yes to this question, and make this metric 100% from the start.
- X% of new work comes from client recommendations - The long-term project that I've been working on recently came to me via my network from previous full-time roles. While I wouldn't count this as a client recommendation, it's always nice when previous colleagues are excited to work with you again. I imagine it will take a while for me to settle on a reasonable target for this metric, but I'll keep it in mind when finishing work with clients.
Projects and initiatives
As mentioned above, I've been focussed on client work recently. The long-term project that I'm working on has a heavy focus on software engineering and architecture design, which has been refreshing and fun after several years of more leadership- and management-oriented work. It's gratifying to come back to coding and realise that you still know a few things.
There's some good writing out there on the value of moving back and forth between engineering and leadership roles - see The Engineer/Manager Pendulum as an example. I definitely feel the benefit of having been in an engineering leadership role when working on code - I find it much easier to have some emotional distance from the work I'm creating, and I'm much more implementation-agnostic than I used to be, because I care more about my clients' business outcomes than the code itself. This isn't to say that I no longer care about code quality or good architecture; I'm just more aware that it's possible to trade off, for example, an elegant implementation in order to gain operational simplicity. I also feel a lot more empathy for non-engineering stakeholders than perhaps I did earlier in my career, and my skills for engaging across different business functions - for diplomacy, if you will - have been helped by my time in leadership.
Outside of client work, I've been slowly improving the mechanics of my business. My instinct is to over-engineer processes, so I've been trying to deliberately keep things simple. I'm relying a lot on Notion to organise myself, from keeping daily notes to generating and tracking invoices.
My content writing has fallen by the wayside due to my focus on client work. I'm keen to write the (hopefully shorter) counterpart to my article on self-development as an early-stage engineering leader, as well as turning another half-dozen ideas I have floating around in my brain into articles. Finding a way to set aside consistent time to develop my content and brand, alongside client work, is a challenge I'm keen to solve in the next few months.
With the end of Q1 fast approaching, and Q2 looking fairly busy with existing clients, it's likely that project work will continue to be front and centre for the next few months. Alongside that, I'll aim to find a sustainable way to keep raising the profile of the consultancy. If you'd like to work together in the second half of the year, now is a great time to get in touch with me. You can reach me by email at
work at jw.pe, or on LinkedIn, Twitter or Mastodon.