‘Enterprisingly Me’ is a monthly feature where you can follow my entrepreneurial adventures. Names have been changed to protect the innocent but everything you read really happened.
I hope my story inspires you to take your first steps, or if you already have, then it lets you know you’re not on your own. Starting and running a successful business isn’t about being perfect. It’s about loving what you’re doing, learning from your mistakes and keeping the faith!
You wouldn’t recognise me! I’m an actual business owner with real paying customers – not many I grant you but enough to get things started and my confidence is building by the day. I read in the paper that there was going to be an auction of office equipment so I went along ready to buy a desk and chair. Oh dear, I got a bit carried away and ended up buying much more than I needed but as the saying goes ‘the more you spend the more you save’!
I’m not sure that I really needed the photocopier, which doesn’t seem to work now I have brought it back to the office, but it was a snip at £1,000 and something I really needed. Have you seen the price of photocopiers? However, I’m regretting the fact that I didn’t check that it was in working order and as I bought it from a saleroom there’s not an awful lot I can do apart from get it fixed. Its taking up a lot of space in my minute office but looks really smart adorned with a beautiful flowering cactus plant I bought to liven the place up. Something to sort out at a later date as there is too much to do to worry about a photocopier.
I’m not really used to working weekends but decided to go into the office on Sunday to print off some packs for a training course I am delivering – it was then I realised that the photocopier wasn’t working! My daughter was ‘helping’ me to set things up and whilst I popped to the loo she managed to lock us out of the office with the keys inside… I was obviously well impressed by that time given I had already had a fruitless morning with my bargain buy. I then realised that not only were we looked out of my office but we were also locked into the main building as the only key to unlock the exit door was in my bag – yes you’ve guessed it, inside my office. It took two hours to get hold of the key holder who was non too pleased about having to come into the office on a Sunday, the look on her face said it all! I know it seems obvious when someone says it but I thought the fire door was only to be used in the case of fires not to help those who were silly enough to lock their keys inside their office… well I’ll know next time. Knowing me and keys I’m sure there’ll be a next time.
I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying doing my own thing but must say I had no idea how much work went on behind the scenes. I’m trying to do everything myself and what with looking for new customers, developing training packages, doing all of the admin along with managing the finances I don’t have enough hours in the day. I’ll call it fate, but just as I was starting to sink under the weight of paper that was building up on my desks (yes, alright, the desks were a snip too so I bought three just to make sure I had enough) I got a call from Marie who used to work with me looking for a reference as she’d decided to return to work after a long spell of maternity leave.
She wasn’t getting away that easily! We’d soon agreed to meet up for a coffee to discuss a position I had created for an assistant to help me manage the piles of paper and to deal with my telephone enquiries. Madness I know as I hadn’t really thought things through. What I should have considered is:
- What exactly did I need Marie to do?
- How much time would it take?
- Did I have enough income to justify employing someone?
- Did I have enough steady income to allow me to pay them?
What I’ve actually done is offered her a part time position to start immediately, which she has accepted, as I also hadn’t realised how lonely it is working for yourself. Sometimes you have to go with your gut feelings so here are my reasons for taking the plunge in employing someone so soon after starting up:
- It will give me more time to devote to looking for new business
- It will give me more time to devote to earning income through delivering training
- It will help me to maintain a reasonable work life balance given the fact that I also have two growing children to look after
- It will provide a steady contact point for people ringing into the office
- As Marie is also a friend, it will provide me with someone to share my thoughts and ideas with giving me perspective and emotional support.
So I have taken on even more responsibility as Marie is also a single mum with a small daughter but this only inspires me to work even harder to make things work. We have decided to take part in a local business exhibition where we have been given a free space. What I hadn’t thought through is the fact that we don’t have a stand (something that I’m sure we can easily overcome) but what we do have are matching outfits bought from a local factory outlet which makes us look very posh and coordinated so I’m sure we’ll wow the attendees. We’ve also ordered some pens with our name on them which change colour when held in a warm hand – that should at least provide a talking point and hopefully attract people to our stand. I’m only hoping that asking passing delegates how hot they are doesn’t attract the wrong kind of attention!
So just one small hurdle to overcome – anyone have any ideas about where I might get a cheap exhibition stand? Really regretting my impulse buy which is still housing the beautiful cactus but not producing any training packs!