Happy Christmas from Shore

Portstewart Strand in high summer. My aversion to swimming started here.

Saying Merry Christmas with a seasonal Shore image from my native Northern Ireland: the two mile beach at Portstewart. The gorgeous white sands could be Antigua, except they are actually snow. Even by Portstewart standards, this picture must have been taken in a cold year.

2011 was a funny old year, from manically busy periods to quiet periods, usually at the wrong time – such is freelance. A big thanks to everyone who collaborated with me / Shore this year, I’ve enjoyed all my projects (and one of them is still going …). I think I’ve been involved in some fantastic projects. I hope to get around to thanking each of you individually over the New Year period (I zig when others zag when it comes to seasonal greetings cards … I know, lame excuse).

The year end finds Shore in good health, touch wood, with an unprecedentedly long list of possible jobs for January and February. Fantastic to be, I hope, working with old clients and new, on projects ranging from car clinics to charity segmentation (yes, it’s still going) to legal services to pet food. Further along, I may have some MROCs in the offing possibly too (market research online communities), an interesting piece of international project management and some design agency work, all of which I genuinely really enjoy. So lots, I hope, already to look forward to, even if a chunk of it doesn’t come off.

It has been a tough environment out there in market research, especially over the last 6 months or so – a straw poll of ICG members a few weeks ago confirmed this – but from a personal point of view, I’m feeling bullish about 2012. Freelance business success, as long as you’re good at your work, is about how efficiently you can fill your diary. This is very hard to control. I turned down a big tranche of work – about 7 weeks’ worth – for December and January, because I had a prior commitment for 2-3 of those weeks. But that’s how it goes: if you’re not committed completely to your projects and your clients, you can wave goodbye to a thriving freelance business. That, indeed, is the pleasure and value of freelance – that you can focus on what you’re doing and do it really well.

More prosaically, I’ve set myself (and promised the accountant) my own deadline of 6th January to sort all my 2010-11 self assessment tax stuff – so enjoy your Christmas while I will be trawling through receipts and cursing accounting software. Actually the software’s fine in this case, it’s the user that needs reprogramming. Like Churchill, I may need champagne to get my synapses firing through my darkest hour. That’s my excuse anyway.

Published by Simon Riley

Qualitative researcher in the UK. I listen to people from all walks of life and think about what it all means. I work for leading brands, media companies and government.

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