A year ago I was celebrating a modestly successful first year of trading as an independent arboricultural consultant. This year the picture is not quite so rosy, although maybe that’s the last few weeks dominating my perspective.
What have I learnt in this year?
There’s a slight variation on last year’s message, which was “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”; this year’s version is “beware Greeks bearing gifts”. I was offered a substantial parcel of work which I readily accepted, but without a clear brief (another famous quote comes to mind, “A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on”) and I now find myself embroiled in an argument with a (former!) client. However, it’s all grist to the mill and good copy for my piece on the otherwise sterile subject of Contract Terms and Conditions for the Arboricultural Association’s Scottish Branch.
Smaller instructions closer to home have been a joy, and had the added benefit of coming to the favourable attention of the local planning authority’s officers with the net result that I appear on a Kafkaesque list (one that doesn’t exist but which is referred to if you follow me).
Marketing efforts have not been very effective – how to successfully exploit Facebook for business, what to make of Twitter, what does Google+ offer, how can Pinterest help promote a niche small business? Difficult to prove a negative but I think the plethora of social media platforms help maintain a public profile.
I continue to enjoy a wide range of opportunities to work for individuals and organisations on projects that would never have come my way as an employee, and indeed the opportunity to pursue niche projects that any employer may have told their staff to shy away from (but watch out for those Greeks in the shadows!)
What are my ambitions?
Ideally UK plc will actually pick up and generate the need for the advice that a senior industry figure can sell, be that in development opportunities, quality assurance, or maybe teaching: as I intend to continue to operate as an arboricultural consultant I reckon I will be able to help you with most enquiries.