In June 2006 I left a staff position at a well known company to go freelance. Why did I take that decision?
I had, since I left university in 1994, worked in industrial automation for a number of companies both small and large. I had had the opportunity to travel extensively around the UK and occasionally globally. In 2000 I got the opportunity to work for Siemens - the market leader in Europe, in their newly formed integration dept.
Over the next 5 years I worked with some great people, many of who will be friends for life and I was exposed to many things that folks working at smaller companies never get the chance to do. So why give all this up?
One thing about larger companies is that they can be very cold. What I mean by that is that when decisions are made at a business level, the people making those decisions don't know the people that they will affect. We had some good, approachable local management who had the unfortunate job of telling us all that our division was downsizing to concentrate on a single industry sector.
Another company were interested in the purchase of the engineers and their skills, but I saw this as a potential step to the side or even backwards. If my hand was going to be forced, then I would make my own future.
After talking things through with the family (it is very important to get the buy in of the people you are going to affect), we decided that it seemed like a good time to break away.
Luckily I secured a position quickly and I signed up with a managed company, who would look after all my finances. I saw this as a quick start method of ensuring I maintained cash flow, but this wasn't going to be forever - I wanted my own business.
My initial thoughts were that I'd wait 12-18 months and then look into starting a Ltd company and gradually switching over, but a number of colleagues that I'd worked with at Siemens, also made the move to freelancing and went straight into the Ltd company route.
I registered my company in November 2006, and began making plans to switch all my contracts over to it before Christmas. It looks like I made the right move, because shortly after that the government stated their intentions for the future of managed service companies - and it didn't look all that great.
I'm now fully up and running and in full control of the operation. The accountancy I went with are fantastic and offered some great advice.
If I knew it was going to be this liberating I would have gone this route right at the start of the exercise, but as a newbie I just needed to get up and running. My advice to you if youy are thinking of starting up (especially in light of the plans for MSC) is to go Ltd. It might take a little longer to set up, registering with all the necessary bodies, but once thats out of the way its the better solution.
Have you got any stories about setup? Are there things I should be wary of in the next 12 months?