Who knew that starting your own business was such a minefield?
I didn’t, although to be fair I didn’t really plan on going it alone, it just sort of happened. My transition into self-employment basically consisted of me waking up one morning and saying to my poor, unsuspecting husband ‘I’m doing it, I’m going to build an empire’. The look of sheer terror that appeared across his face should have been enough to deter me but no because I was on a mission.
I wasn’t quite sure what my mission was but it didn’t matter because I had made my decision. Now was the time, I was going to brave it alone. I was going to venture out into the wilderness of self-employment to make my fortune. Yep I really was that naive.
It never occurred to me that people actually saved up for such a transition or they created a plan in advance. Nope. No plan for me.
After calming down my better-half down and (trying to) convince him (and me!) that I knew what I was doing, I took myself off to work with that feeling of ‘right it’s either now or never’.
You see at the tender age of 36, I had arrived at crossroads in my life where I was constantly feeling frustrated. My eldest daughter was about to start school, life was moving forward and yet my career had never quite hit the right notes for me. I had such high expectations of what I wanted to achieve yet the jobs I seem to attract just didn’t deliver.
I’ve spent over 20 years feeling frustrated with pretty much every job. I used to think that it was the company – they didn’t understand their staff, the job – it wasn’t stimulating enough, or it was the people – they just didn’t ‘get me’. You see, when it comes to my career I’ve always had these big dreams but the reality has always been disappointing.
Looking back now, I realise that of course I had some wonderful jobs & opportunities and I worked for some really amazing people however I soon came to realise that the problem wasn’t the company, the job, the people – put simply, it was me.
It was Easter 2016 that I finally had that moment of clarity. Once I had realised that I was the problem, inevitably the next question that followed was ‘so what was I going to do about it?!’.
I wasn’t afraid to shake things up after all I had left a successful, well-paid career in London to go to University in Kent to retrain as a Graphic Designer, leaving the life I had built over a 12-year period behind. I knew change could be positive because I had already done it.
I had spent 8 years working towards my dream; to become a Graphic Designer. I ate, slept and lived everything design over that period so when I qualified with my BA Hons Degree, I felt like I had finally arrived. In-fact when I was offered my first in-house Graphic Design role before graduating – I knew I had arrived. Wrong! because guess what… yep a few months into the job I started to feel my old friend, Mr frustration appear again. Grrr.
It wasn’t until I was working at a Design Agency 6 years later, that a friend planted the seed in my head about working for myself, although my initial response was ‘don’t be silly’.
It was during the summer of 2016 that I jumped although some-how I quickly found my first website Client and then my next and before I knew it, I started getting regular work.
One of the smartest decisions I made was joining my local BNI group because it helped transition my mind set. I credit BNI for giving me the confidence to launch Pink Lemon Branding & Design on 1st September 2017 after 14 months of Freelancing.
The past 20 months have been a real rollercoaster of emotions as I’ve gone from being an employed Graphic Designer to a Freelancer Graphic Designer to now a Business Owner specialising in Branding in a relatively short period of time and I’ve have learnt so much.
So here are the top 6 things I’ve learnt so far…
1. Surround yourself with the right people
They’ll always be either small-minded people or doubters, mainly because they lack the courage to step out of their own comfort zone. I now surround myself with like-minded people who are on a similar journey because not only do they help me, they also inspire me to keep going when things get a little tough.
2. Understand my strengths
I love to design and that’s what I do well so I’ll always choose to design over doing my finances although understanding your numbers is crucial to success. Step forward my Book-keeper…
I’m happy to spend money but spending time on doing my expenses (yawn!) fills me with about as much enthusiasm as going to the dentist for a root canal!
3. Be clear on exactly what it is you want
I now have many goals that I want to achieve because creating a business has helped me to think big and, more importantly, not feel guilty about it. I have so many goals written down that I have found that it actually helps my decision process.
4. People actually do buy people
How many times have you heard this? But it’s true. Most of my Clients are referrals. Once they have spent time with me, it usually develops into business. Why? Because I invest time with them finding out their business pain points so that I can deliver a more tailor-made solution.
I show interest because I genuinely am, I build credibility through my knowledge & expertise and trust because of what I have delivered for other Clients. Only when you spend time with someone can they truly find out what they are about.
It is all about building the ‘know – like – trust’.
5. Running a business can be a lonely job
I discovered this quite early on so I made sure that I got out and met people. I figured that the best way I could help myself was to position myself in amongst the type of people that I aspire to be like hence why I started networking. I love networking. I know it’s not a common thing to say but I really do. I really enjoy meeting people and talking all-things business.
I often come away from a networking group feeling uplifted and inspired. I gain clarity for my own business because if I’m stuck or not sure what direction to take, someone I’m speaking to has often been there and done it. Free advice which is just awesome.
6. Personal development is essential
If I’m honest I didn’t really think about anything other than doing the job I felt passionate about. I never considered all the other aspects that goes into running a business, maybe if I had, I wouldn’t have taken the leap. Over the past 20 months I have come to realise that it’s not just about the skills you possess, it’s about developing other areas as well so you become more balanced.
These days if I’m not listen to audiobooks on business, I’m learning about mind-set or developing areas within my business through online training courses.
Mindset is so important when it comes to going out alone. For some reason, we place limitations on ourselves so our subconscious ends up telling us that we can’t do things.
But who says we can’t? where do these limitations come from? They are in our own mind so we need to work at removing the blocks that hold us back. For me, this has been the biggest area of learning.
I could go one really but I think that’s enough for now. However, what I will say is that I’m actually glad that I did what I did and didn’t plan because everything that has happened has happened organically.
From finding my first client to carrying out my first workshop in London, to speaking at networking groups through to being nominated for two Kent Women in Business Awards (KWIBA) has happened with no planning. I believe that the small wins I’ve experienced on the way are just signs that I’ve finally arrived on the path that I am now meant to be on.
I absolutely love what I do. I believe wholeheartedly in the service I provide and I gain so much from helping Business Owners move forward in their own business. I get to do amazing things that I never dreamt of when I was employed. I believe the key ingredients for running a business is resilience, focus, determination and passion which I know I have an abundance of.
Mr Frustration is no more.