I Quit My Job to Start My Own Company

My own firm!? Wow, pretty excited and eager to get to work but wanted to take a minute to memorialize the start.

Day One

This is day one. Literally the first official day of business for Copeland Building Envelope Consulting. I have spent the last week and a half transitioning out of my role as Director of Building Envelope Sciences at Gorman Richardson Lewis Architects and today I’m on my own.

People keep asking if I’m at least a little nervous, but honestly I’m not. I feel prepared and I’m excited more than anything. But more than that, I’m just confident that whatever happens, at worst it will be a great learning experience.

I plan to use this blog as a way to write about the process of starting and running a small professional services business. I know that in the lead up to doing this, I found a lot of great resources and I’m thankful to all the folks that took time and energy to make them (and I’ll definitely share what I’ve found useful in future posts). I’m hoping that someone may find my experiences along this road useful too, so I’ll write them down and see what happens!

What Exactly Am I Doing?

I’m starting a building envelope consulting firm.

For more info you can read this post about what a building envelope consultant is, or check out the services that Copeland Building Envelope Consulting will offer.

The Startup Process

So what have I done so far?

As soon as I decided for sure to make this move I gave notice to my former employer that I was going to be starting my own firm. We discussed an appropriate transition timeline and agreed that yesterday would be my last day. The whole transition was about a week and a half – a longer transition didn’t make sense given my role with the firm, which included a lot of business development.

I’ve setup a “doing business as” or “DBA” with my town which allows me to do business as Copeland Building Envelope Consulting rather than just my own name. I’ve decided not  to incorporate or form an LLC, at least for now, because I don’t think it actually provides a great deal of personal protection for me given my type of business (professional services performed by me) and it adds a significant level of complexity.

That’s a key point for me in this whole startup process: I’m trying desperately to avoid barriers to action. I don’t want to hold up the whole process of getting started to figure out LLC paperwork and coordination. If it makes sense in the future, I’ll do it.

I think a far more important step to protect myself is professional liability insurance, or E&O (errors and omissions) insurance. Getting that in place is where I have spent my energy, rather than on forming an LLC or corporation.

In addition to setting up the DBA and E&O insurance, I’ve made a basic website, setup email and productivity software (Google’s G Suite). I haven’t gone out to buy a bunch of equipment or computer hardware yet – I’m typing this on a $180 Chromebook that I had kicking around – hoping to take a “get it as you need it” approach to most things.

I have also begun to reach out to my network to announce the news and see how I can help people solve their building envelope problems. I’m fortunate enough to already have a couple of amazing clients who want to work with me and my new firm so I’m pumped about that!

Speaking of, being kick-off day and all I have a lot on the agenda and have to cut this off. Much more to come!

I’m Starting a Photography Side Business for Fun

I love photography and I love business, so I’m indulging my inner entrepreneur and starting a photography business. I also love my day job so it will be a photography side hustle and a fun experiment.

I’m a tinkerer. I’m the person who is constantly moving furniture around to optimize a room layout.

I like testing ideas and seeing what works.

Photography has been a hobby of mine for years, going back to a little Olympus APS film camera that I had as a kid. I get a lot of satisfaction from both the technology – the equipment and processing tools – and the art.

Over the years I’ve amassed a modest collection of basic DSLR gear and learned a bit about a variety of photo processing software. I still have a lot to learn but know enough, and have the tools, to make some engaging photos.

Since I’ve become a dad my subject matter has skewed heavily towards portraits. I find people are more interested in photos of other people too, so it’s practical both from a family documentation standpoint as well as entertainment value.

As a result I have quite a collection of family portraits to draw from, and creating a simple portfolio wasn’t too much effort.

I started looking around for a suitable WordPress theme and stumbled on this awesome tutorial for creating a photography website. I loved the minimalist look right away and jumped into making my own site.

After a couple hours of work over the course of several days, I came up with what I think is a pretty decent site to showcase my portfolio and solicit clients looking for a photographer in Stow, MA.

Now that the basic framework is in place I will start optimizing for organic search and other marketing. As it stands, no one would ever know it’s there!

First on the list is a more SEO-friendly main page, and then some location-optimized landing pages for surrounding towns.

Once someone finds it and decides to try out the service, then I can get some feedback and start optimizing the customer experience too. It’s all sort of a shot in the dark at this point.

I’m excited to have a platform to experiment on, and just see what happens. I have no real expectations, other than to have some fun and learn a few things – both about photography and about business.

I’ve already really enjoyed getting back into some simple WordPress website construction after taking most of the last couple of years off from working on my family travel blog. Not to mention the fun of going back through years of family memories!