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First aid for free spirits

In this week’s guest blog, Melissa Morris tells us how it’s not always an easy ride setting out to build a business in her own words. 

“When I embarked on my first venture, Network Locum, a year ago I was overly eager to get started. So enthusiastic was I, that, typical to my character, I jumped right in and set to work. Searching for web developers, engaging with future end customers.

So what went wrong?

Things almost came crashing down before even launching the site, but with some help from my friends and in particular, the networks that I had joined, the business I managed to escape failure!

When I started I found a freelance web developer. I agreed an extortionate daily rate, but he promised me he would have the site finished in two months and within my budget. All seemed so easy, why do people moan about product development in the tech world? I thought.

Well… it wasn’t long before I learned what people were talking about. Very quickly, my modest amount of seed investment had disappeared. However, only a quarter of the product had been completed.  I had promised customers that the site would be complete by September and we were already well past that date.

After a bit of a spat about wrongly setting my expectations, I had to let the expensive developer go. With no money to pay anyone new, and only a fraction of a product, I was despairing.  The next 4 months enjoyed no progress, depressing, but also embarrassing as customers were persistently asking “can we use it now…?” I was about to give up.

What was the turning point?

Thank god for supportive people and networks.

Over the past year, I made a mindful effort to expand my network to people going through similar growing pains to me. I joined Startup Leadership Programme for example. I also forced myself to do more “networking” and surprisingly made some life-long friends. One of these friends took pity on me and introduced me to his web developer friend, James. James has completely saved my sanity and my business idea. He agreed to take some shares in the business, work cash-free and complete the website. He believed in the concept and was willing to do evenings and weekends to getting it finished. We also have similar ideas about where to take the business and more importantly, are both willing to sacrifice to make it a success.

We are now in a position to launch and I have not spent a penny on product development since last August, showing me, it can be done. If I were to give advice to any first time founders, it would be that people are the most important part. Who you employ and who you surround yourself with to give you a helping hand when it all goes wrong!”

Network Locum is an online job matching tool for GP locums to find work in practices. It was founded by Melissa Morris in 2011.

Who is Alex Butler

Hello, I'm Alex Butler and I founded the KindredHQ community and blog back in 2011 after I re-started a freelance career. I LOVE freelancing and I wouldn't swop the freedom, control and joy of working for myself for anything. But I realised how much I missed the company and energy of other people - of having a team around me. So, I got a few people together one day with our laptops, a jar of coffee and some jelly babies and we sat and worked together one afternoon. We've been doing that every week in London, UK since then! I am still 100% freelance and I like to share the everyday highs and lows of being a freelancer here on the blog.

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