I started my own archaeology business in January 2013. Considering my previous experience in archaeology consulting, one might say I was crazy to start my own venture. However, I chose to look upon it as taking my life back into my own hands, and possibly exorcizing some demons in the process.
I tried to do as much research as I could, including on myself:
- Why the hell did I want to start my own company?
- Did I want to incorporate or go the low-key sole-proprietor approach?
- Did I want to subcontract to other archaeology or environmental companies, or establish direct connections with oil & gas industry clients?
- Did I want employees?
- How much time, money, and energy was I willing / able to put into this venture?
- What were my competitors doing — what were they doing right, or not?
The past year has been an eye-opener. I learned a lot about myself, how to run a business, and how to do business. The top lessons I’ve learned so far are:
#1: Knowing and accepting my limits. I need to adhere to the lessons I learned from previous consulting experience (ie, non-stop fieldwork) and adjust my boundaries accordingly. I need to stick to those boundaries if I want a life outside archaeology, and to have autonomy and self-worth.
#2: Sticking to what I’m good at. I’ve chosen to subcontract out a couple of tasks. If I wanted to, I could eventually learn and do it myself, but I’d be spreading myself too thin and producing a less than desirable deliverable. It’s easier and more efficient to let someone else do it. It’ll also produce a better result.
#3: It’s a small world. You never know where an opportunity may come from or how it may appear.
I’m not rolling in cash or dripping in clients. There have been ups and downs. It’s only been a year; time will tell how successful I am, both personally and professionally, while I continue to play business owner. The learning experience, however, has been invaluable. And, amazingly enough, my own year of learning is reflected in the lessons of other entrepreneurs as well (see here).
If you have lessons from your own entrepreneurial experiences, I’d love to hear them!