Every business has a day one, and I’ve done over 365 days!

It happened while we are still in lockdown which is disappointing, but I’m still in business during one of the most challenging times for most businesses, and right now I’m more thankful than ever for my business and my children to escape from COVID19. It’s kept me on track, focused and sane.

It’s empowered me to think and act quickly to change strategies for my customers and me. And support them in not just marketing but the bigger picture. For me, it’s always been about creating added value and now more than ever we will take a step back and review those that pulled together and created a safe, non judgement and open community.

There is no doubt that COVID19 has accidentally catapulted some businesses into success just look at our supermarkets….!! But for others, the order books stopped overnight! Support developed by Rishi Sunak has given many a lifeline, but he was right with his statement – ‘not every business will survive COVID19’

Has this put you off launching your own business? Don’t let it!

Business isn’t easy – if it were everyone would do it.

Business leader and friend Shane Gunstone, MD of Asmech Systems said that to me when I was about 6 months in and having a wobble. I was working more than full time with 3 young children (3 under 3 at the point of launching), and I was exhausted. He said, keep going – you have what it takes.

Running a business is a different way of working.

When people asked me how many days I worked, I would politely smile and tell them I’m full time and then some would almost give a pity smile. The truth is my full time is on my terms. I don’t miss the children’s milestones, important events, breakfast, tea or bath time. I’m at my laptop every night when they are safe in bed. For me to leave my 3 little cutie pies my ‘why’ needed to be really strong, and the reward needed to be more valuable than just breaking even from childcare costs.

I spent 7 years prior to launching working alongside the fantastic local business community, and I’ve been supported by them and call some of the customers and friends. There is never a day when I don’t look forward to work.

I’m in a completely different headspace than when I first started my business, I believe in myself way more, and I’ve chosen my network to work with. Ask yourself ‘do you dread working alongside a department on a certain project that just doesn’t appreciate outputs and how to make things happen?’ If the answer is – Yes? Then do something about it.

There will always be that awkward and demanding potential customer but put yourself in a position that means you don’t always have to take business from people you don’t want to work with. Yes, that’s right …. You can sack customers! If you use a supply chain and a supplier has informed you they don’t currently have the capacity to fulfil your request – that’s code for ‘you are horrible to work for, and I choose not to work with you.’ Worth taking note as your supply chain is everything!

Which leads me nicely to my ten lessons:

Build Valuable Relationships

You can not put a price on being able to pick up the phone to a supplier, media contact or mentor. Think about how you want people to feel after speaking to you. People will always remember that. And remember it’s not a one-way street – network and always be kind. So when you do find that you need to pull in favours, help or guidance, you’ll find you have a network that empowers and supports your end goal.

Set goals – short and long term and keep reviewing

I remember the night before launching my business, and I couldn’t sleep. I had a high profile role within the Mansfield and Ashfield business community and close connections with local media and public authorities. They were all expecting me back after maternity leave with my twins.

I scheduled 3 different messages to go out that day in case no one noticed my announcement. As soon as I changed my linkedin profile (the night before), I was inundated with messages. My local media contacts were talking to me and congratulating me on the decision to launch my own business.

And then the first Linkedin post went out, and that was it my little business was launched, and I rolled my sleeves up to convert sales and engaged with customers.

My short term goal initially was to get back to work and balance work and home life. It then became apparent that there was a demand for the flexible support I was providing to SME’s in the area. I broadened the services and responded to that demand.

Obviously, COVID19 has impacted on my goals, and I’ve done what any savvy business owner has done during this time, and I’ve adapted. I’ve worked with my customers to adapt and respond. I’ve acknowledged the reality of this economic winter and change it to an opportunity, and I feel more than ever that I’ve set my business and customers up to thrive! Digital marketing and relationship marketing is more important than ever!

There is room for everyone.

Show me an industry that doesn’t have a market leader?

My mentor is the fabulous Katrina Starkie who is the Marketing Director at one of the leading marketing agencies in the area. So what does that show you? Find your audience and where your services are most needed, and you’ll find there is room for everyone.

Invest in the right tools

Does the hubby use that line to help with putting DIY off? They are right! Staying productive is critical when starting a business and when it’s a service – your time is money. Don’t waste time on things that are not going help you hit your goals. Use tools that will help you get there more efficiently.

Get a business coach, mentor, reliable friend….

Someone that will provide you with structured time to talk and hold your ‘feet to the fire’ as my lovely business coach Martin Rigley MBE, MD of Lindhurst Engineering often tells me.

It’s all good and well-setting goals, but if no one is holding you to it, then you will drift off-plan. Starting a business can be isolating, and if you are having a wobble, it helps if you have a network that you can reach out to and use as a soundboard. Have your wobble, dust yourself off and crack on.

Or has Sandra Cowley, Commercial Director at Futures and my dear friend told me when I was wobbling about starting this business ‘put your big girl pants on and move on!’ You wouldn’t believe how many times I tell myself that whenever I’m having an imposter syndrome moment. Seriously – it helps – try it!

You can’t put a price on being able to pick up the phone to your mentor and Katrina telling you – you are right! You know your onions keep moving forward! It saves you time and time is precious!

Consider your product and service portfolio carefully.

Will I be offering the same services in my year two that I did in year one – no? Will be rate card be the same – no?

Don’t fall in the mindset that passive income is the only way to make money and value your services because if you don’t – who will?

There is no foolproof formula.

Just the one that works for your business model and for your audience within your timeline. And your measures of success may not be the same as everyone else’s.

Be kind to yourself

No one is perfect! Stepping out of your comfort zone isn’t easy and I’ve been told ‘I’m so brave’ – I didn’t know how to take that when I first heard it. But I get it now. Running a business is brutal. Mistakes will be made and the difference when it’s your business – it costs you! There is no one to hide behind, and you are 100% exposed. The rewards are way greater the work is way harder; the mindset is stronger.

I’m more resilience than 12 months ago. It’s a process but acknowledge and work with it.

Don’t be everything to everyone.

What can you outsource? What good are you to anyone if you are working on every element of the business all the time? I’ve got a close network of partners that I work with to help with the overspill of work. Value your time and productivity.

Rejection is just redirection

If you let failure control you it will affect your success. Have I won every proposal I’ve been lined up for? No. Have I really wanted that business? At the time, yes! Did I shut shop and throw my dummy out the pram? No! I put on my big girl pants (told you I use that phrase a lot now), and I looked for the next opportunity and continued to believe that businesses will see my growth and it will lead us to the same path when the timing is right.

Remember that setbacks and missteps are part of the process, and it’s developing the resilience to embrace that process that will ensure your eventual success. Assess, evaluate, keep learning, and keep going. You got this.

Take Advantage of Local Business Support.

If you are thinking about starting up here is a list of companies that are there to help you, fund you, and support you:

D2N2 they have funding opportunities and hosting some great webinars to develop your business.

Invest in Ashfield and Mansfield I got a business start up grant for £1,000 – you can too. It can cover your marketing and website cost. I can help you through the process – just contact me.

Open4Business – you can browse funding pots available for businesses and start-ups in Mansfield and Ashfield.

Get yourself out there and network :

Mansfield and Ashfield 2020

East Midlands Chamber

If you are thinking about starting a business, now is the time! Good Luck!

If you need help with your startup marketing plan, logo design, website, media connections, PR support then give me a shout!