The Sunday Business Post interviewed me ages back about working for myself. The piece went out on Sunday where I as Damien Mulley and as Damien Mulvey answered the questions.
The more verbose version via an email interview is here:
Why have you chosen to do project work instead of having a traditional job?
I don’t play well with others in the longterm. I’ve worked in very structured company environments and I just didn’t fully fit. Many are very comfortable with working under structures like this but not me. I found that every now and then I zigged when the company zagged.
What kind of project work do you do?
Several organisations hire me to train their members or member companies and lot of it is on digital marketing which changes a lot so these are regular gigs but not guaranteed. Companies also approach me to evaluate and fix their digital marketing for them. Sometimes there is no need for me to come in as the people in there are better than me but those that pay the bills don’t see it. These gigs keep me going over the year and in between I run events like the Social Media Awards, SME Awards and Web Awards.
vHow do you find clients?
It’s all inbound. I’ve never sought work from a company. Despite my crankiness and bad language on Twitter, I still get calls and emails to come in and do some work for companies. Word of mouth and doing a good job gets me future work.
Do you intend to stay doing project work, or would you like to have a traditional job?
When you have months where you are in minus figures you sometimes think about that regular job with regular pay but the vast majority of the time, no. I’ve been blooded with the taste of freedom, no going back to the world of fake plastic trees and Chandler Bing fake laughs. In addition the project work pays the bills and also bankrolls me doing other fun things that a regular employer wouldn’t sign off on. I had comic books made instead of business cards, I did events that never made a dime but tested things out and informed me as well as the audience. With project work I get to be honest with companies and lose business as a result sometimes. I’d never be afforded that luxury in a traditional job.
Do you think you do more or less work than someone in a traditional job?
I’m on well below minimum wage. I envy those that work for themselves and take weekends off. 80 hours a week isn’t unusual but I’m happy to do that. This is a time management issue and if I had the time I’d work on it. The clients always get their work on time and on budget though.
What are the biggest risks with project work?
Cash flow is my biggest risk. I’ve had to chase some companies for over 6 months for even small amounts. I had one media company find fault with an invoice 3 months after issue saying I undercharged them by 1 cent so we had to start the process again. I never wanted to become the sour one waving a contract before doing anything but that’d what happens now and I get paid faster. Progress, ironically is a risk as these days you can become irrelevant if you don’t adapt. Illness and getting a bad reputation are other risks.
How do you manage your taxes?
I have a patient and forgiving accountant called Derek Madden. The Magician I call him. I’m terrible with finances so his company does the most of the heavy lifting. It’s the main advice I give to new businesses: Get a good accountant to do as much as you can afford and the time saved will be worth more than what you give the accountant.
Do you think that the tax system is fair?
Has anyone ever answered yes? There are some issues with the way I pay myself and what I get taxed. Some good examples of how if I paid an employee a certain salary, they’d get a better rate than me. I’m okay with how the system works though but again The Magician helps me navigate it. There are good supports especially from Local Enterprise Offices, people who have leeway and know your business personally. There’s currently funding for getting your web offering up to speed, every business should be looking at this. The world can be our client based not our suburb.