After changing my business name in 2015, I also reviewed my business structure and business plan as well. I had time by this stage to better understand who my business was attracting and where I wanted it to go. The name change in many ways made it a lot easier to target my audience and set me up for my mission and vision.
The result of all of these updates was I was more focused on what track I needed to take and now that both my children were in full time education, I had time to pursue it.
I was still new to being an entrepreneur and still had an awful lot of lessons to learn to make the most of my business. I found investing time with the LEO for further courses and mentoring extremely valuable and now I had an income (after a couple of years) I could afford to look further afield. To this end I was paying for courses with the likes of Mari Smith and Kim Garst. They were great and offered some excellent training, resources and supports.
Opportunities and Collaborations
This year was the year of true growth as I finally accepted that I had to start speaking about my business! Barbara Gordon of WhatsWhat.ie was the first person to give the opportunity. It was horrendously nerve wracking. I had one of the people I did and still do look up to Greg Fry in the crowd and was nervous as heck!
She also asked me to be a part of the free Social Media Clinic with Alan Hennessy and David Brown. It was truly an amazing experience. This was all made by possible by saying "Yes!" and getting out of my comfort zone.
Learning from My Mistakes
It was around this time that I started to make more mistakes as well. It was only to be expected! I was attracting such a diverse audience at this time with my messaging and with these new skills at my disposal I felt I could help a lot more people. However, that simply wasn’t the case. I still didn’t have a rich knowledge in certain sectors and when trying to help them realized I fell short. It was a sobering lesson, but that’s what it was – a lesson.
This meant I now had to review my messaging again and stop trying to be everything to everyone. My confidence took a big knock after this experience and I decided I needed to pay for more specific 1:1 training and upskilling. Several hundred euro later, I had no regrets.
Since that time I have been more fluidly updating my Terms and Conditions on my website. Every lesson I have learned, every “horror story” I hear has helped me build a better road map for my business. I still make mistakes today of course, I’m human and not infallible, but I own them and learn from them.
Adding Revenue Streams
It was around year 5 (2018) that I truly understood what audience I was attracting and started to fully appreciate I needed more than one revenue stream to help my business grow and develop consistently. I also understood by this stage that a lot of my business was actually coming from Google rather than any other platform as well.
As lovely as it was to help the Startups and smaller businesses, they didn’t really have a large budget and had an attitude of “one-and-done” which is obviously a lot to do with my sector. If I stayed targeting this audience, my business would inevitably dry up as my expenses only grew year in and year out.
With this in mind I started to deliberately target sector events and large business conferences and I developed a whole new customer avatar. I was after corporates now! They had a larger budget, a greater turnover of staff and lots of departments that needed training!
There was also other places that I could provide training like Local Development Companies and Partnerships throughout Ireland.
It was a slog, it took some investment in time, like improved business style headshots, using different social channels and messaging and I also realized I needed to invest money as well and had to be seen sponsoring these types of events to gain credibility as well.
It took just about a year, I broke through and have added “corporates” as a serious audience ever since.
As my confidence grew, I realized I needed to be seen more. I started entering awards locally and nationally and even though I may not have always won, they saw I was positioning myself in their space and placing myself alongside other established business competitors. It was rewarding to see my business name reaching semi-finals, finals and then winning a couple of times.
The Lessons Go On…
I still make mistakes, but each one has been an opportunity for me to refine what I was doing and why. I’ve never been in a position to grow a business before, I’ve never worked with various local and national partners before. We all make assumptions and have misunderstandings, it’s just a part of life and it is “just business”. I’ve learned not to take things so personally all the time (but it’s still hard!).
Belief and Growth
From year 6 to year 7, I was steadily getting referred more work through word of mouth and through events I was speaking and sponsoring at. I have adopted a system of sponsoring one year and not the following year. It’s a means to measure the success of the previous years sponsorship as well as to help build the coffers of course.
This was only made possible through self-investment, also through watching and shopping around for better plans and deals for tools and apps as my business grew.
Finally in February 2020 my husband and I decided to incorporate together! He had set up his business a few years before mine and incorporated his business early on and I had been a Director for a number of years of his business and now we decided to bring my business into his as well.
Almost as soon as we did this – of course the Pandemic began. In the last week before we all shut done I got in one last speaking gig and then my business was shuttered for 3 months, as much because I had our 2 children off - as there simply was no way I could compete with the Local Enterprise Office delivering Social Media Training for free at this time.
If you can’t beat them, you join them…
The previous year (2019) I had met up with a lovely local lady called Marie Manning of Manning Financial, here in Mullingar and she had asked if I would like to work with her on providing Start Your Own Business Training and that account blossomed naturally in 2020. I figured I was already working with them through my relationship with Marie and when they were looking for Mentors, I applied and thankfully got a role with them.
I quickly realized that the one thing a lot of people who were attending these free training courses weren’t getting was Digital Marketing Strategy Training, something I had been incorporating in my training but not identifying separately for a number of years. Now it was time to make this stand out!
Join me next month to find out more!