I was recently re-reading an old blog post of mine called Everything Has It's Season, which I wrote at the end of January 2014. I wrote it after my first few months in business when I used to write more in a Journal-style way. I'm not even sure what my "style" is now. It seems to waiver from journal to news story. Reading this blog got me thinking about how much has changed and also stayed the same since then. Let me bring you up to speed:
I wasn't really sure back then (2014) how my business was going to grow. I was working literally from my kitchen table and normally either when my youngest daughter was asleep next to me or when she was in part time child care. My eldest was in full time education by this stage.
I remember thinking I didn't want to over stretch myself. I actually named my business STOMP because I wasn't thinking about targeting anyone other than Sole Traders. (STOMP = Sole Trader, Office, Marketing, PR). In fairness to myself, this is the first time I have ever worked for myself so wasn't sure if the business would last! I am pleased to say that it has. Even though I started at the most depressed time in Irelands economy in recent years.
The beginning of this month (November 2018) I was 5 years in business and I very fortunately can see no end in sight which is brilliant. This was only made possible with the support of local businesses and networks in Co Wicklow first and more recently Co Westmeath. The Local Enterprise Offices in both counties have run lots of relevant and affordable courses that helped me set up. The networks have been either LEO situated or independent like Women in Business Network or Women's Inspire Network. I must forget Dublin and Mullingar Chamber either.
I also had to adapt my business over time and retarget myself to continue growing. In 2016 I rebranded my business. It was the best decision I've ever made thus far. I know I will have to do it again some stage too. If it's time you did yours, just plan it properly and get some help. It doesn't damage or dilute your brand. If anything it strengthens your brand when you focus properly and create a much more personal and strong relationship with your audience.
Its' not been all a bed of roses though. I have had to learn from some harsh lessons over the years too. There are some nay-sayers in every industry of course. People who either accidentally misinterpret what you say or do all the way to professional miscommunication. I can confirm I have learned some valuable lessons however. As I go along I tend to add these lessons to my terms and conditions in the sincere hope I never make these mistakes again. I have lost all confidence in myself more than once and thought to "jack it all in".
I know I am not alone in this, it is a common story with Sole Traders and Entrepreneurs in general.
It is worth mentioning that when you work together with others, you don't just learn from them but learn about them. I have had the distinct pleasure of being a part of two large events and initiatives over the last few years. Business in Ireland and in every country is always about relationships. It is about surrounding yourself by the people that support you and build you up. I'm not ashamed to say I have asked for moral support from these same communities and people over the years.Since I stopped talking about what people can do for me and more what can I do for them, my business has grown. I have met a better client and I have made better long lasting relationships. One of my clients is nearly 3 years with me now!
To be honest, I have no solid plans at the moment! Not because I don't want to progress or grow. I really do but my message has diversified over the last 2 years - especially since I started working with Irish Tech News. Over the last 2 years I have added new experiences to my already growing expertise:
Now to consolidate this and work more closely with people to continue my own personal training and growth. I still suffer from bouts of Imposter Syndrome - but not to the extent I did a few years ago! I continually keep myself up to date with changes in my current field of expertise and want to ensure that I always provide the best support and training I can for those that invite me to their business.
Thank you for those that have been with me all along this journey, I'm not done yet....