Going solo

I’m going solo for the second time. Here’s what I won’t be doing this time around…

- October 19, 2020 3 MIN READ

One man’s journey from full-time employment to solo entrepreneurship in pursuit of the lifestyle dream. Three steps forward and two steps back but it’s all worth it in the end.

I initially launched my business Norm’s Computer Services at the beginning of 2016. Aside from my passion for resolving computer issues, my primary motivation was to take control of my career. In doing so, I would no longer be at the mercy of an employer who could make me surplus to requirements. The solo business owner lifestyle, with all its freedoms, was and continues to be my dream.

Initially I dropped to part-time hours in my job at the time and, such was the growth of my business, that I made the decision to go full-time on the first day of spring 2016. The choice of date was symbolic of new beginnings and from that point it was onwards and upwards. 

The business grew rapidly over the following three years until my family and I made the decision to relocate from Sydney to Brisbane. In making this move it meant essentially starting from scratch.

This also meant taking on a full-time job in Brisbane to pay the bills, whilst building my business on the side and juggling balls. In preparation for the move, I renamed the business as Norm’s Computer Services and changed my internet domain name.

As I write I’m still working full-time in Brisbane, whilst doing jobs for my own business most days after I finish. Having tasted the freedom of the self-employed lifestyle I would happily return to doing this full-time in a heartbeat. The lifestyle of being able to plan my own day, enjoy coffees and lovely lunches, and spend time walking in nature between jobs is something I crave.

Even prior to my years of self-employment I had worked flexible hours for most of my working life. To now return to working fixed hours in a fixed location for five days every week has been a huge challenge, and one which I intend to leave behind as soon as is practicable.

For many people the goal is financial security. To have a secure job with a solid income is all they want. In fact one of my colleagues used to do what I was doing in my business but ended up working full-time and would have no desire to return to his former life. I’m on the opposite career path as my dream is to once again have the freedom of my solo career without necessarily having the same degree of financial security. Actually, as far as finances go, working full-time whilst also running my business is the dream ticket. In doing this, I have a full-time salary and pocket money on the side. But there’s so much more to life than money.

The beauty of building a business for the second time is being able to apply the lessons you’ve learned from the first time. I’ve been busy studying and gaining additional certifications to add further credibility to what I do. I’ve also learned the importance of having a balanced marketing strategy.

The first time around I depended heavily on the use of Google Ads (then called AdWords) which was a great way to hit the ground running. With Google Ads you can literally set up your advertising and hit the top of the first page of Google right away. Unfortunately for me, Google no longer allows computer repair companies to advertise in this way, due to the preponderance of fraudulent operators.

Being unable to utilise Google Ads has lengthened the timeframe for my return to the business full-time. I’m now laying the foundations for long term success by investing much of my effort in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Unfortunately there are no shortcuts with SEO and it requires months or even years to attain the desired outcomes.

My goal is to attain a sufficiently high position on Google’s search results pages such that prospective clients will find me and utilise my services. When I reach the point where I can no longer fulfil all the requests I’m receiving it will be the time to consider my options. Ideally I would reduce my hours in my current job to facilitate my business, and then return to the business full-time some months after this. As things stand I would hope to take the first of these steps in early 2021.

I hope this little biographical sketch has been of encouragement. One of life’s privileges is to be able to take something for which you have a passion, and turn it into the thing from which you make a living. If you can do this, and enjoy a lifestyle that’s not all about growing your bank balance, then you’re really onto a winner!

This post was written by Norm McLaughlin, founder of Norm’s Computer Repairs.

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