As if the Christmas and New Year festivities haven’t been hectic enough, now that we we are back at work the occupants of the D&B office have been partying again!
A tentative start
This time last year I was sat in our temporary home hunched over an ancient laptop taking the first tentative steps towards setting up my very own business. It was nerve-wracking. I felt a little bit lost.
D&B’s first birthday….we made it!
Now 12 months on, I’ve had a busy year; we moved to Yorkshire and set up home in a town where we knew no-one. Went travelling for two months. Developed my business with a small but friendly and varied client base. And now as we start 2017 my business is busy and growing.
Looking back here are three things I would tell myself, the new business owner….
Although my lovely first client practically gave me that first contract on a plate there have been times that I’ve doubted that anyone would want to work with me! As I’ve ranted, worried and, let’s be honest sometimes taken to comfort eating, Jon has urged me to have faith. In fact, faith has been our family word for 2016.
Faith that my friendly, practical and ‘can-do’ approach to working with clients will be a success. Faith that the solopreneurs, charities and original-thinking business that I know I want to work with….well, that they will want to work with me. Faith that I can make a real difference to the success to their projects, campaigns and events.
With planning, marketing and PR being my ‘thing’ for so many years, at each hiccup or doubt I simply re-doubled my efforts and drew on all my experience to market my own business. I sucked it all in and whispered ‘have faith’.
Be clear on your 'why'
It wasn’t that I fell into setting up my own business but the opportunity definitely found me. Initially, it was all about getting clients, I’d do anything within my skill set to ensure we could eat at the end of the month!
But our two month ‘gap year’ in summer gave me the space to think about how to take the business forward. So, that in the past few months I’ve been looking carefully at the ‘why’, discovering what's really important to my business and to my potential clients.
Now I’ve been able to write down my vision for the business. Having explored what benefits I can offer and how to support businesses or organisations I’ve also set out my mission and started planning a lot more strategically about who I want to work with.
Get out there and connect with people
If there’s one thing I know how to do it’s network! Not only do I enjoy connecting people but I love hearing their stories and getting to know them.
It’s a marketing basic that no one will buy from you if they don’t know about you! Of course, networking has changed considerably in the past five years, so that connecting on social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn is just as important a part of the strategy as attending face to face events. But, however you connect, building up relationships with not only your target audience but influencers and other businesses is vital.
Though, in the early months I often found it difficult to ‘put myself out there’ because it didn’t feel like it was part of my job. I felt I should be working on my client’s projects not out and about having coffee with people.
Now having recced most to the local business networking groups I’ve started to build events into my own marketing strategy and I don’t feel guilty about the weekly coffee and cake!
So, now I’ve spent an afternoon writing this blog, looking backwards, it’s time to kick-on and get going with the next 12 months!
I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all my lovely clients and all those I’ve worked with over the past 13 months for your support. It's been very rewarding to see positive, tangible results for all the projects we’ve worked on together, whether that’s been conferences, exhibitions, fundraisers or digital campaigns.
I can’t wait to begin working with more business and charities, to be able to grow my business and develop my natural joy in helping others. Here's to a fabulous 2017!