In the first year of my business I learned that being qualified, connected, and available were keys to getting work. Most of my clients were people I knew or had worked with before, and having been employed by KAIST but not being restricted by still being employed full time at KAIST worked to my advantage. The first year was an interesting experiment.
Now I'm in my third year of working for myself and starting to feel more comfortable about the sustainability of my company. Two things in particular are making the big picture brighter: repeat business and referrals. This afternoon's project is a perfect example. One year ago I was visiting a friend who works in one of the departmental offices at KAIST. The department head walked in while we were chatting and she introduced me to him and sang my praises as a trainer and editor. I didn't think anything would come of it but I gave him my business card anyway. A couple of weeks later I got an email from him asking if I could train some graduate students in his department who were interested in becoming professors and needed some coaching on how to deliver better lectures. This year he invited me back to do it again.
While the project mentioned above isn't a big job or an incredibly lucrative job, it is a good example of how the power of a strong referral and repeat business can give a business owner confidence that they are doing something right. Do your best to keep your clients happy and many of them will stick with you and tell others about you. That's when you can start to feel good about the future.