‘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!
I’ve had my ups and downs this month.
- Running out of cash and berating myself for letting it happen
- Losing my son to university life – how can he be so excited about leaving home when I feel like I’m losing a limb?
- Attending a ‘networking’ event filled with men in suits trying to sell me something – there must be a better way of ‘networking’.
- Having a very successful meeting with the bank manager who has agreed to extend our overdraft – I was very well prepared with a plan to ensure that we were cash positive once the quiet months were over
- Developing a proposal with Chris to take to our local funding partner, which will involve helping local business owners to develop their skills.
- Working with Marie and Clare to develop a plan to generate more income by hiring out our training facility
- Developing some great marketing materials with the help of my friend Beryl
- Giving myself a kick up the proverbial and reflecting on what I’ve achieved in a relatively short space of time. I’m my own worst enemy sometimes… just wish I had someone to talk to about it to help me get things into perspective. I did try to speak to my mentor but she hasn’t returned my call or my emails. Wondering if she has left – make a note to try and contact her employing organisation before I forget again.
My personal life has gone from bad to worse with every waking hour being taken up by work. It seems so much easier to throw myself into it even going into the office on Sundays when I don’t really need to. I think I’m using work to fill a gap in my life and know that it’s probably not good to do this in the longer term but I find it so much harder to try and meet people socially. I wonder at myself sometimes – how can I be so confident at work but yet feel so out of my depth when I meet people socially? Why would they be interested in talking to me about my work and do I sound as if I’m showing off? I think this goes back to my parents always telling me not to show off when I was younger - these things really do stick with you. I was always a bright and bossy child and my mother loves to recount the story of when, growing up in their guesthouse, I shouted at one of the guests when I thought he wasn’t listening to me. This was a long-term guest who almost lived with us – I also used to dress him up when he was having his afternoon nap. What a precocious child I must have been as well as super annoying.
Just when I felt like I’d probably made the biggest mistake of my life by thinking I could start and run my own business, the luck fairy showered me with good fortune and a bit of luck.
Chris contacted me to say that our proposal has been accepted and the new work will start next month. The local council I have been working with wants us to do more and I’ve had two new customers contact me who have been given my name by one of our existing customers. Brilliant news – all wanting to start next month so now I have the added problem of making sure I have enough time to do everything! OMG I’ve gone from the problem of not having enough work to the possibility that I’ll have too much. Maybe time to think about taking on another trainer to help me. I decide to put an ad in the local paper – do you know how much that costs??? I couldn’t believe it, so although I had designed a lovely ad in a fancy box I ended up with 3 lines which I hoped wouldn’t get lost in the ether.
The luck fairy was on my side as just as the ad was about to be featured on the jobs page I received a letter from Arlette, a trainer from the local area who had just left a major national insurance company. Turns out she’s just what I’m looking for on paper so I’ve made an appointment to see her next week to find out more.
What I didn’t expect was to receive so many more applications – seems like there are lots of people looking for jobs so thinking it may not be too difficult to get the right person to help us. I’ve decided to wait until I’ve met Arlette (love the name but realise this is probably not the best basis for a recruitment decision) as although I should keep my options open whilst looking for the right person to join us, I feel that she looks so good on paper and that I would be hard pressed to find anyone better.
I always find recruitment a bit of a lottery – lots of people are really good at putting a cv together and say all the right things at interview, but its only when they start working for you that you see all of the things that just don’t fit with you and your business. I make a note to myself to try and stay focused on the skills and characteristics that I know will work well for the business, instead of judging potential members of staff on whether I like what they are wearing, they have a good sense of humour (although that’s a really good sign in terms of some of the situations they will have to deal with) or they just seem like canny bairns. This is a term my staff have learnt doesn’t bear well when justifying why I would either take someone on as a customer/supplier or employ them in any capacity.
I’m so pleased with how Marie and Clare are taking on responsibility for creating income from our training facilities. I’ve recognised that the more I trust them to make certain decisions for the business the easier it is for me and the more involved they feel in our success.
I’ve started to feel more positive and I’ve just received an email from my mentor who has been on sickness leave but is now back at work. I’m wondering if I need her now things are going better, but I’ve decided to meet her anyway as can’t do any harm to get her views particularly as I’m considering taking the next step in growing my business by employing another member of the team. Really excited for the future again – I’m shocked at how quickly my mood can change from day to day, week to week and all linked to how well the business is doing. Note to self: definitely need to get out more and find either a man or a hobby! Problem is my business is both my man and my hobby – is that a bad thing? Definitely something to discuss with my mentor.