Home Journal Introducing Phi Digital

Introducing Phi Digital

by John

Worthing beach

A few weeks before Flash on the Beach I quit my job. I didn’t go postal or anything; I’ve been working towards this for a while, but the timing was quite prescient. A recurring theme of this years conference was making time for personal projects. The irony of not having time to work on a project about time isn’t lost on me. Digging the escape tunnel kept me pretty busy but all that preparation was worth it.

I work for myself now, under the guise of Phi Digital. In fact I’m doing pretty much what I used to do for my previous employer, only without the commute, or the employer. I’m working for friends and ex-clients and all of it from my home-office on the coast. The biggest difference has been the lifestyle shift from London agencies to one man band. I run the business from a laptop, from anywhere. I spec the projects and the tools, and every now and then I say no. What’s not to like?

Well, the dark side is tax returns, marketing, billing, project management, reception and everything else that comes with running a company. Much of that time is un-billable. Luckily the web is full of entrepreneurial services for the self employed. There’s BaseCamp for managing projects, my accounts are with Crunch and time tracking goes on Freckle. There’s still plenty of company setup to do (like actually build the website!) but the main thing is I have work on the books into next year. When things settle down a bit I’ll be revisiting the Computus Engine properly. I’ve kept the journal going over the last few months but development ground to a halt while I set up the business. Now I’m running the show I’m going to have more time, right?

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Dave Stewart November 2, 02010 - 11:52 pm

Hey John,

I used to use freckle, but ended up moving to harvest for its superior invoicing and client tracking ability.

I miss the easy task and time tracking in freckle, but defo worth checking out!

John November 3, 02010 - 12:07 am

Hey Dave,

Nice to hear from you. I’ve been using Harvest for tracking one client but I just can’t get along with it, I find the Freckle UX much friendlier, I even enjoy tracking my time with it?! Don’t need the invoicing as all of that goes through Crunch. Learning curve is a little funky but now I’ve got my head around it I wouldn’t back to a regular accountant. Gotta love software toys!


Natacha Beaugeais November 3, 02010 - 9:18 am

I’ve been working for myself now for well over 5 years now… after a while it just seems to make sense. In all that time I’ve never had to haggle for work – with enough connections and solid work behind you, the work will come flooding in.

Downsides are definitely the tax and billing side of things – ensuring you bill adequately for ongoing project discussions and meetings is essential! I spend a minimum 1 hour a day, responding to client requests and managing sub-contractors.

My one tip – watch out for the time-wasters! I never offer a quote on a project unless I know a rough budget in advance and that they’re serious.

O, and have a minimum spend on the projects you take on! Otherwise you spend all your time on a tiny project that ends up costing you the same as a bigger project.

Ok, so that was two tips! =]

John November 3, 02010 - 1:05 pm

Hi there Natacha, thanks for the tips! I think having family made me more risk-averse than I used to be, but like you say there comes a time when it’s just the right thing to do. I see far more of the kids now, I love the work and I’m not travelling every day. The lifestyle changes alone has made it worthwhile. Great to hear from you again! All the best, jd.

Mum January 23, 02011 - 6:54 pm

This is great. How is the website progressing? The ‘production team’ are right behind you as always…..100%.


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