WOW! I can’t believe it has been one year since starting my little biz. My husband and I are both going to Rome, Italy leaving my parents with the fur-kids, tree frogs and ducklings for a lovely week off of work sprinkled in with a few fun sessions at the International Data Warehouse, Business Analytics and BI Summit 2014. Looking back at this past year, I simply can’t believe how fast the time has gone by. Although I try, I alone can’t keep up with all the constant agile/rapid development releases by analytics vendors. The business intelligence and analytics industry is moving at light speed paces and the future cloud, cognitive and advanced analytics market is getting seriously interesting.

When I embarked upon this journey, I shared that owning a biz was a life goal. The timing for starting my biz was NOT at all planned but rather the result of pressures to sit on the sidelines. I refused to sit on the sidelines and do nothing – it is not in my DNA. There is a part of me that wishes I would have just gone to the beach, took online classes, read books, volunteered in the school system and so on but I am truly addicted to data and the analytics industry that I love super much. Soooo, I did my own thing, pursued my passions and boy I am having FUN with it!

I can share that doing your own thing is totally viable for others that want to take a leap of faith. You do need to have at least 6 months, if not more, of savings in the bank to “float” payments if you choose to be a consultant selling your services versus a product developer or training provider. There are also quite a few start-up costs to do it right and not be a “cheap laptop shop”. There are company registrations, legal fees for contracts, professional insurances, errors & omissions, D&B credit reports, Office 365, MSDN, GoToMeeting, web hosting, cloud storage subscriptions for disaster recovery and many other administrative expenses. I invested about ~$20,000 in year one BUT I also wanted the best tools to deliver fantastic work. I can’t live without Adobe Creative Cloud, Camtasia, SnagIt and of course analytics software like my beloved Tableau Desktop, Office 365 Power BI, TIBCO Spotfire, SAP Lumira, etc.

There are a variety of revenue models that you can explore. Most of my peers choose a profitable mix of training and services provider. I chose a fairly different route since I have a marketing degree, technical sales and marketing experience, and a plethora of real-world experience in data warehousing, business intelligence, reporting and advanced analytics. Unlike many of my peers that do a lot of build work and stay at one account for a long time, I choose to only take on small, couple week build projects. I mostly pursue strategy, thought, writing, creative, and industry research work that I enjoy much more than builds. I also do quite a bit of free work and volunteering for groups that I am genuinely interested in. I mentor folks that reach out to me, review a zillion technical solutions, keep a close pulse on the industry and also have traveled to conferences that I have always wanted to attend to learn more about different areas of the industry – things that you rarely (if ever) get to do when you are an employee working for someone else. This year collaborating with several of the industry analysts has been a true joy! I now have “brain-crushes” on a few of them. My favorite professional growth group, by far, this past year has been the Boulder BI Brain Trust BBBT led by Claudia and David Imhoff – thanks to a tip by a treasured mentor of mine.

As I look ahead, I do need to get smarter about the biz, how I invest my time and pass more control over to my financial analyst husband who has expressed taking on a larger role. He loves this little biz, proudly models the branded polo in his travels and wants to do more of the training work that I have let sit on the back-burner. He has been urging me to finish the books that I started, return to a human sleep schedule and wants me to get out of the house much more than I did last year. (When you truly do your own thing, it does get a bit lonely at times and you don’t even have to leave the house if you don’t want to travel.) All in all, there have been many lessons learned and a new deep respect for what business ownership really means. I sincerely appreciate my wonderful customer base, readers, and peer relationships now spanning across industry vendors, research firms and companies. I will always look back fondly at biz year one. Buongiorno – it is now time for a much needed break, future direction planning and awesome Italian food. : )