So today my business is one year old, and I can honestly say it’s been one of the most interesting, challenging and rewarding years of my life. I can’t quite believe I’ve managed to run a business, pay my bills, make some money and deliver good work, all while constantly learning and evolving.
It’s not been easy, far from it, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ve made loads of mistakes, but I’ve realised that making mistakes is fine and part of the process. I’ve also made loads of valuable decisions, met some truly life-changing people and grown so much, personally and professionally.
On this reflective day (and before I get the bubbles popped!) I wanted to share the main things I’ve learnt in the past year.
Always go with your gut
When I first started out, I met a client who I knew, deep down, would be difficult to work with. They were constantly debating my costs, they didn’t really understand fully what marketing was (they thought that by doing one social post of newsletter it would guarantee sales, despite my constant explanation that this is not the case and marketing is a long game of constant presence). I knewthat I shouldn’t work with them but, as my business was so new, and I was so flattered someone wanted to work with me, I offered my services at a discounted rate and worked with them. All I can say is I shouldn’t have done. I worked over and above and slogged my guts out for not only lack of reward financially, but morally. A lesson learnt!
Have a tribe
I talk about this a lot but having a group of like-minded people has been imperative to my success this year. I am lucky enough to be a member of women’s business group, Sister Snog, which is enriched with wonderful ‘sisters’ who are amazing, trail-blazing women from all walks of life and sectors of business. Having their support, wisdom and honesty has been crucial and knowing they’re only an email or call away helps so much.
Find a space of your own
As Virginia said, “a woman needs a room of one’s own.” When I started out a year ago, I decked out my spare bedroom as my office and it’s utterly lovely. However, when I was working there every day I soon found my work/home life boundaries were definitely fuzzy. I would often work until 7 or 8 at night, still in yoga gear having not really made any food or done much exercise. And I was spending too much time at home to the point where home reminded me of work. In order to protect my home sanctuary – the place where I relaxed and unwound – I knew I needed to have another space to work.
I was introduced to my now-members club, All Bright, by a fellow sister (the power of the tribe) and I knew instantly it was perfect for me. I now work there a few times a week, host my meetings there, meet up with friends there and use it as a base in the centre of London – I’m even hosting a few celebratory bubbles there tonight. It has been so vital for me as then when I get home, I’m home, and I can switch off and re-charge which is essential.
Feeling overwhelmed is fine
The word I’ve used the most when people have asked me how I feel this year is “overwhelmed.” Initially I felt this word was a tad negative, but I have come to love this word and understand that it’s not a negative for me. I am overwhelmed for many reasons: yes, with the workload at times, with the opportunities I have been given, with the testimonials and kind words I have received, the results we have achieved and the amazing people I have been lucky to get to know. So, for now, being overwhelmed is totally fine.
You have to invest
When you’re a one-woman band, you take on the role of everything: accountant, strategist, digital media manager, admin assistant and many more. For the first few months I did everything in my business and I’ll be honest, I was stressed and the areas that were definitely not my areas of expertise were suffering. About 6 months in, I knew that for me to grow and for my self-preservation and self-care I needed to invest in my business and get some help. I am so happy now that I have a wonderful accountant and a wonderful digital media manager working with me who offer expertise in their fields that is definitely helping to grow my business. Yes, it’s nerve wracking knowing that I have their invoices to pay at the end of the month, but my time is freed up to be used in the best possible way – growing my business!
For a long time, I just worked, worked, worked and it’s only in the last few months that I’ve made the effort to reward myself. There is a reason I started my own business, and this was to have more flexibility and control over my day to day working life. So now I make sure this works for me – I make sure, as much as I can, that I work from home on a Monday. I love to go to a matinee or catch a film in the day, I go for a walk in the country or have lunch with a friend as it suits me, and I work that evening. Flexibility is so important to me personally and it’s imperative to keep remembering why you got into business in the first place.