We talk to entrepreneur Mark Elliott about setting up his own project management firm
You've just set up your own firm, Elliott Project Management, in March. How difficult and expensive a process was it?
My overheads are low; I've taken offices close to where I live, rather than in central London. I was able to finance the first two or three months' trading myself, so I haven't had to go cap-in-hand to the bank. However, the downside of going it alone is that I've had to cope with all the bureaucracy, banking and VAT registration – which was very slow. There are 101 things to do: getting an accountant, a company name registered, VAT registration …

Where did you go for advice?
There were some out-placement consultants that my previous employer, the retail group Kingfisher, arranged, but I only went once or twice – it was of limited use really.

Have you had to advertise to get clients?
I still work on a few Chartwell projects and am employed by Pillar Property, part of the group that bought the Chartwell portfolio. I'm also working with B&Q. I haven't had to do any advertising, though I've mail-shot all my contacts.

What does project management involve in a typical day?
As a consultant I co-ordinate and manage the whole construction process from initial site appraisal to recommending the appointment of consultants and contractors, through to completion. It's a full cradle-to-grave-service.

I charge a lump-sum fee. There isn't really a typical day, which is what I like about it.

What are the advantages of your new lifestyle?
The advantages of flexibility and being my own boss; it's wonderful not having to endure a one-hour train journey to work. I enjoy the challenge of running my own business; to dispense with the corporate red tape and concentrate on what I'm trained to do.

What are the frustrations of going it alone?
The hard thing is finding a balance between getting the job done and bringing in new work. It was hard to adapt to changing my role from a construction client to a consultant. Now I can cajole as much as I like, but you don't have that same degree of control over the team, which can be frustrating. I ought to have anticipated it, but I didn't.

Are you concerned about a possible economic downturn?
The economic conditions are going to be a bit tough but I don't think we are going to experience the same problems that we had 10 or 12 years ago. I've got a broad client contact base, so I remain optimistic.

Mark Elliott

Age 45

Current job Principal of Elliott Project Management

Employment history Following a degree in quantity surveying, joined QS Edmund Shipway & Partners for four years. Moved to his family’s firm of building contractors, JA Elliott, as senior surveyor. Worked for developer Thorbourne Group and Hopkins Associates before joining Chartwell Land (the property arm of retail group Kingfisher) where he stayed for nine years and became construction director.

Lives Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire

Interests Rugby, golf and crosswords