Thursday, 15 May 2014

On having your own business, being an entrepreneur

I have my own business outside work. My wife is also fully self-employed. There are massive benefits to this.

When I'm getting thoroughly wound-up with the politics of projects, I bear in mind that my external work makes money, runs smoothly and follows similar principles to the main job.

As a PM, I'm used to criticism. I've had people telling me "You're rubbish" when they really mean "I'm threatened by your thorough analysis and understanding of the problem". What I know now is that I can successfully run my own business that they aren't involved in the politics of and don't influence. It works great for me in the wider world, so what's different here that makes our projects a nightmare and prone to failure? Oh's them.

I also understand much more about the financial side of business and how little things like setting out the deliverables, cashflow, payments, reconciliation, and completing the work that the customer asked for impact the business in a big way.

My business also gives me a calm clarity. If the main job sacked me or made me redundant, I'd be able to scale up the external business in a few days. So that allows me to make decisions without being scared about what people in the organisation can do to me. I can force best practice, recommend the best solutions and call people out on their politics because the worst thing that can happen is it'll end the thing that I believe passionately in but also gives me the most grief!
Location:Manchester, UK


I recently had a meeting with a load of people that spoke quickly and seemed to be very switched onto the programme and work that needed to happen. I'm not convinced that what was being done was the right thing. I definitely got an idea that they'd slipped into "deliver stuff quickly, now, rush, hurry, oh hang on...that's the wrong thing". They certainly had a big timeline of in-flight stuff that didn't necessarily fit in with the direction that the operations side needed to drive.

The problem with this is simple. We need to re-assess what needs to be done and then it may be the case that we need to cull some in-flight stuff. If we're culling a £1m project that's 1/4 through, we're not wasting £250k but saving £750k overall. We have still spent £250k but that's better than spending the whole £1m on what's now the wrong thing. These are tough choices.

We need to consider how we're going to implement the new model. Perhaps the new model is wrong...we need to test that's right before we implement anything, otherwise cash is wasted. We then need to run a pilot or at least walkthrough using different scenarios, or perhaps run some more complex analysis, or we're just running into the dark.

Location:Manchester, UK