Last month was the anniversary of the company’s foundation. In my adventure of doing my own business, I have completed my second year. I wanted to share what I learned in these first 2 years as an independent consultant straightforwardly.

When I was at the beginning of this road, at the end of my initial meetings with one of the founders of a brand said that “2 years. Give yourself at least 2 years to do your own business, don’t give up until then. Other people also advised me this back at that time. So, finally, the time has come!

Before starting this article, if you haven’t read yet, I also recommend you to read my article named “1 Year Of Doing My Own Business”.

Knowing Yourself

In my previous blog post, I talked about this in detail. When I started to do my own business while being a salaried employee in the first months of this process, my inspiration was to relax for a few months until I go abroad. I was not planning everything months before, but I knew myself to a certain extent.

“What would I lose if things don’t go well? The “worst” alternative in my life will be to return to 9-5 employment which is well-paid compared to my last salary. I was telling myself that; This is not a bad option neither. “  Then I realized that this process was very well-suited for my personality and I have launched my company. This was the time when I planned long-term preparations.

Truly, particularly with the impact of the e-mails I received after my first article, I would really like to say this. Knowing yourself is the most important part. Maybe working remotely for a company (a safer zone where your income is stable) more ideal for your character. I especially highlight this because, in business life, there is no single source of happiness. Each model inherits its own risks.

Being an independent consultant, switching to the decision-making side, traveling, and working with the hashtag of #whereisnermintoday is the most suitable choice for my personality and the one that outweighs all the risks.

For example, in October 2019, for customer training sessions, university lecture invitations, etc., I worked from 5 different cities in 1 week.

A surprise greeted me at the end of that busy week. My customer (dear AGT), who I’m planning to go to Antalya at the end of the project for training, booked my plane tickets for flexible dates. Therefore, I had the chance to both do business and have a vacation for a few days in Antalya.

First 2 Years – New Customers

Since 2015, I have been consulting brands on “Conversion Rate Optimization”. “When the investment amount is the same in paid (advertising) and organic visits, how do you achieve more conversions?” I am trying to answer these kinds of questions that are most frequently asked by brands.

Most of the time, I examine why users who visit brand websites and mobile apps do not complete the process, where they have issues, and look for new opportunities for brands, measure, test, and report, and also I give training courses.

When I look at the brands which were clients of my company for the first 2 years for consulting business and projects;

I have worked with TurkNet, CarrefourSA, Dekopasaj, Hobium Yarns, Bhaya Cruises, TutumluAnne, B2press, Inventor Panda, AGT, Darüşşafaka, Pakolino, Arçelik & Atölye, Turkish Airlines & Contentus, GittiGidiyor ebay & Atölye, Anadolu Group Bulur & Alafortanfoni, Gixal, Userspots, Özyeğin University

Nermin Canik’s Customers for the First 2 Years

In my previous blog post I wrote about how I approached my clients, and what I wrote was still accurate. I’ll be back to this in some parts of this post.

Choosing a Consultant & Client

While brands organizing conquers to scrutinize the selection of consultants/agencies for themselves, I believe that consultants should show the same sensitivity. Just as the customer chose a consultant, I tried to choose a customer.

How is the team structure? Will my suggestions be applicable? During the process, who will I work with? Am I the right person for the brand’s expectations? ” I present them an offer or redirect them to various alternatives after several questions like this. I assume that the harmony between the two sides improves the consultancy service’s success substantially.”

I am very lucky because I have worked with really estimable individuals. For the reviews of my clients, for whom I gave consultancy through my own company for these 2 years, you can reach them from this link.

In my previous post, I talked about “There is no big/small brand in consulting business. You don’t know when a customer shows himself/herself at another place “ in detail.

Don’t be biased for any brand or neither for its budget. At the time, I made this mistake a lot. I also noticed that they made higher advertising investment / generated qualified leads than many recognized brands when I checked the account of a brand that I have not heard of before.

Nevertheless, if you want to categorize them in anyways, wearing your financial lenses and splitting the brands as “low/high payment terms” is at least tangible.”. Rather than working with a brand that is offering a 90-day payment term while issuing a check, maybe working with a high-potential start-up that is loyal to its payment terms can make you happier.

Having Rules 

I set a consulting fee for myself 2 years ago. Then I created a “Bid Matrix” over time with the advice of a few senior executives/employers. I calculate the overall score, apart from the project cost, which includes the factors that inspire me to take the project and the potential negative situations/risks. In any case, I had a lower limit. I have never lowered my bids below this limit at any time.

There had been times when new customers were not accepted. Still, I did not compromise my rules. At those times, I make an effort to develop business, work on new technologies, give lectures in a few extra places.

I was able to quadruple my consulting fee within 1 year with this strategy.

In an episode of İlker Canikligil’s Olmaz Öyle Saçma Şey (No Such a Thing) (“Money money money episode“) this subject was clarified at beginner level and addressed with point-to-point suggestions. One of my mentors, Mustafa Dalcı, whom I highly respect, also recommended this to me two years ago.

I am one of the people who believe that as well as the choices we make, what we do not choose to make will lead us to another point. I am aware that financial resources are also necessary for the freedom to choose gain in the long term rather than short-term wins.

However, I did not break the rules I have set for myself whether I was at the zero level or in the safe zone.

The Fact of Pandemic

There was a pandemic outbreak in our lives at the end of the first quarter of 2020. (Many thanks to healthcare workers!)

Perhaps the least important “Force Majeure” section that we all copy and paste in our contracts has now become real with this pandemic. I didn’t have a brand at that time that was impacted at such a level as to interrupt our projects among my active brands.

On the contrary, there was a pleasant event as well. One of my brands sent the whole payment beforehand without even waiting for my project delivery so that I wouldn’t worry about the pandemic! I noticed it with a notification, I was very surprised at their kindness, to be honest. 🙂

I called and checked on my customers in the market, particularly the ones I thought that their business was negatively affected due to the pandemic process. I have stated that now I can create more time at home and I could help them even if our contract ended.

Below, I would also like to add the image which was very popular on Twitter. One of the pieces of advice that was given to me 2 years ago is that: “Turkey has a much more dynamic structure, never say now we have this I should wait for it to go away. There’s a high likelihood something different will happen tomorrow. Against all the odds, persisting start-up firms still can survive. “. I would probably more be terrified if I had not experienced the waiting time last year during the election. At that time, it was a great experience for me and I have become much more prepared for a moment like that.

Just in one day, the whole country switched to remote work and even adapted to this like they have been working at home for months. I have been having almost all of my meetings online for the past 6 months. I only went to a client’s office once. It seems this process is going to last longer, let’s just see.

Özyeğin University Google Analytics Training
(Demo Account was used and consent was obtained from the participants for the images)

I purchased an office membership from Workinton Sapphire to only receive my cargo, contracts, and legal address when I established my company. Although I was working and traveling with #whereisnermintoday for a long time, this transition of companies is a great advantage for me. Nobody was finding these circumstances strange anymore.“I’ve had so many meetings at the beach this summer …” now if I say this, it seems normal to too many people.

The Things Enabled My Work In The Process 

Becoming an e-Invoice Tax Payer

I became an e-invoice payer right away when I launched my private company. Therefore, I didn’t face any of the procedures including invoice preparation, printing, mailing, and tracking them. In certain shops and markets, I can specify exactly my company info and receive e-invoices instead of collecting receipts.

I chose Paraşüt as bookkeeping software, I am very pleased with it. It’s simple enough that I can create my invoice alone in 10 minutes. When I subscribed with the reference of my friend, both my friend and I got a free subscription for an additional 3 months. Thanks, Ender! (Here I added my invitation code as well.)

Choosing the Correct Independent Accountant and Financial Advisor 

I told you last year that one of my greatest opportunities in this area is to work with an accountant with whom I can share a common language. Thanks to the  İnan Yurtseven and colleagues at Yurt Consultancy. 

When things get serious, you have to confront the reality of “Tax”. My old boss always said that “Actually, you have to pay their gross salaries to everyone, only then they will understand the importance of tax.”

Even the smallest things (for example, when you sign a contract with the customer, a tax you will pay vary according to the written amount, the benefit of holding a virtual office and showing it as an expense rather than showing the house as an office and paying withholding tax, assessing the most suitable time to issue an invoice to avoid paying VAT and income tax before receiving the capital and based on payment terms) didn’t make any sense to me 2 years ago. İnan, thank you for explaining even the smallest details one by one and answering all my e-mails within 24 hours.

Feedback & Experiences 

I guess in this blog post  I am sharing dozens of experiences I have listened from different people by saying like“… This was recommended to me at the time”. As I emphasized in my article last year, “having mentors and talking to people from the sector “  is very valuable.

Let me give a solid example. After a few months of intensive research that we performed for TurkNet, I created a final presentation. One of the participants was Sinan Kurmuş, TurkNet’s Deputy General Manager. In addition to Mr. Sinan’s title as top management, he is a former Harvard graduate. One of the graduates who conduct interviews for Harvard applications in Turkey. I asked him, if needed, to provide his feedback pitilessly. He spared me 45 minutes as a session. He listed the things I could only learn (or even not completely able to learn) over the years.

I am very pleased to meet and talk with productive individuals who are already successful in their domain. And what could be more valuable than sharing their experiences with me?

Two TV-Series Recommendations: Suits & Mad Men

At the beginning of the road, Suits & Mad Men were the suggestions of my two different mentors. Mustafa Dalci had suggested Mad Men and  Serbay Arda Ayzit suggested Suits.

Client/consultant relationship, partnership, mentorship, contract, finding balance while growing business, common sense, competition, ethics, being a team, family… I watched most of the episodes by taking notes.

Ted’s speech to Don stating that a consultant should never speak to his client about negative concerns (what they’ll feel as soon as he leaves the table), even though at that moment there was chaos all over the world...

Jessica’s traumatic experience caused by Rachel that the promises made without contract, signature, or even in any manner other than written form do not signify anything.

There are a lot of tips out there that would work in real life.

In the first 2 years, these two TV shows were really helpful throughout my approach to consulting. 

Creating Content 

The development of content for acquiring “leads” is one of the most beneficial long-term investments. Despite knowing this, I am not a good example of blogging with a total of 4 blog posts in 2 years.

SEO & UX Relationship Based On 3 Real Business Cases

Why Users Leave Your Website?

How Do We Visualize Data? Preferred Names Based on Years

1 year of Doing My Own Business

However, creating content is not just about blogging. Content can be generated by giving a keynote speech at a company, composing a post, or even planning a survey / commenting on the results. Maybe you will be surprised, but one of my customers approached me after seeing a post of my presentation while I was giving a speech.

You can reach previous webinars and speeches where I was a guest speaker from the Webinar & Talks page.

The People Whom I Inspire from for the Next Years 

Since foreign exchange is becoming more important for a person living in Turkey, I started to spend time developing businesses in overseas customer acquisitions as many other consultants. Because I have several months of consulting experience with an overseas customer, I became confident that things can be done remotely.

Different recommendations on this subject: On the day I was writing this article, Erman Küplü created a thread on a comprehensive overview of platforms that could be the first step for the overseas market. Again, Zekeriya Mulbay transparently explained how he got through a bottleneck by using a platform wisely when we went to the UK within the scope of the Ankara agreement during the pandemic period. Onur also listed several beneficial suggestions not to depend on a single platform and to create awareness. Aleyda Solis has also been sharing tips on working remotely for a very long time. Although I haven’t read his ebook yet, I really like the brief but point-to-point posts of Tom Hirst.

I would also like to suggest two friends who influenced me, who shifted my point of view but I didn’t meet face to face, while I follow them on Twitter and like their posts.

While Ahmet Çığsar working on stock photography in a way to serve the whole world, Onur Ozcan produces useful content on affiliate marketing. By monthly subscribing to Onur via Patreon you can review case-based examples from brands with real data.

Their approaches and the recommendations about the financial literacy and active/passive & income/expense section mentioned in the book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” that I have read recently really correlate to each other very well.

I really like being a consultant but in the long run, we have certain limitations. In other words, we have limited hours/days to sell. But they transform their knowledge, content, and experience into products that generate continuous income. Truthfully, I have different plans for the next few years, we will see.

Keeping an Eye on the Sector with Actors from Different Fields 

My main advice is to know and understand the best actors in various fields in your field, whatever area you work in.

As a consultant, your clients will consult you about the members who will join the team or about the individual consultants/agencies they consider to work with.

For example, according to the expectations of my client who is looking for SEO consultancy in the industry, I can recommend 6 different people/agency options.

Again, I can instantly list 3 alternatives for the Front-End development business. I can give extra credit to the best “Front-End Developer” I’ve ever worked with, Burak Doganci, because during the development process, he specially produces solutions suitable for platforms such as A / B Testing, Google Ads, Analytics.

I have a work that involves collaborating with all departments from various fields, such as digital marketing, software, and product management. The stronger the team, the more successful and more data-driven my projects become.

So it’s not limited to only your own field, it is pretty beneficial to follow and meet experts in different fields.

Pro Bono Culture

I promised myself that if I establish my own business in one day, my company will always have a pro bono (volunteer) project. We are working together at Darüşşafaka to raise donation rates on the website.

If a professional specialized in digital does very small things by sparing very limited time, even then, can achieve certain results that would touch many people’s lives. I hope that I will never break this promise I have made to myself.

Now time for ads 🙂  For 157 years, the Darüşşafaka Society has offered full college education scholarships to bright children whose parents have passed away with equal education opportunities. The revenue and cost item is transparently shared annually on its website. To make regular/one-time donations or to get special occasion presents, to give your loved ones online certificates, you can visit the Donation page 

I tried to write about how my first 2 years have passed while running my own company as an independent consultant honestly, the things that I applied and worked after listening to the advice I received. You can follow me on Twitter or Linkedin.