My first 365 days ….. some of those days bought smiles, some bought tears but most of all they bought a sense of achievement.

Reflecting now on the last 365 days I think about what I have learnt and what I can do better in the next 365 days.  I know a couple of people will be thinking … I told you so.

Plan, plan, plan and then plan some more

It is important to have some focus and some clarity in what you are doing otherwise it is easy to watch the days, then weeks go by.  Saying that it doesn’t mean that the plan is set in stone it is good to review your plans regularly and adapt as you learn and grow.


There are lots of different types of networking in in the first few months go and try out a few.  Don’t just jump into spending lots of money with joining fees on the first meeting that you attend.  You will find that some will work for you and some won’t.

Don’t forget to collate those business cards, use apps like Full Contact to input them into your phone and CRM data system.  I recommend getting one from the outset I use HubSpot as it is Free and does just what I need.  Just ensure the details are ‘clean’ going into your CRM as if not it can get very costly, so take your time.

Networking is not just about going to one meeting grabbing a load of business cards and then sending a sales email.  Networking is about building relationships, which takes time.    Find a group or a couple of groups that you fit and commit to them.  Make sure you have coffee and find about people not just tell them about what you do.  I could continue about networking for a while, so will park for now.

Know your strengths

Running your own business you have to do everything so figure out what your strengths are.  For everything else find some support such as a Virtual Assistant or let’s face it if you are not good at maths a bookkeeper.  I as some of you may know am a little bit of a geek, so the IT aspects were not a worry.

I found a great cloud based accounting system, FreeAgent (other programs are available) which allowed me to keep my expenses up to date and send invoices to my clients and linked to my bank account and links to the HRMC.  My father was an accountant and helping him on the weekends doing manual accounts has paid off, who knew.

Marketing,  well that is another story and one that I did put my hand up and say I need some help.  At networking meetings I have found some great referrals for companies, its not all about finding a customer for you.

If you get knocked down, dust yourself off and try again

Many things are a learning curve and sometimes things won’t go the way you hope.  I have never entered any awards for myself – plenty for teams that I have worked for and with but never someone looking at what I do.

Being part of the Venus Awards this year has been an experience and I have met so many other inspirational women who are in the same boat.  I now have a network of women who I call upon for advice and vice versa.  They are my virtual team who I encourage and support and they do the same to me when I have one of those days when I think – what have I done!  I might not have won this year but to be a Finalist and Semi-Finalist within the first 6 months of business – I don’t think that is too bad for a rookie.

Say No

When you first start out the when the phone first rings or the email comes in you jump.  Make sure that the business that you take is right for you.  Sometimes you have to go back to your plan and remember what you are trying to achieve and your goals and make the decision to say no.  It is hard as those bills need to be paid but keep true to your vision.

Make time for yourself

You could spend 24/7 trying to complete your to-do list but let’s be realistic when did you every finish everything on your to-do list.  I’m not saying I haven’t worked late or weekends but make sure you still have some balance otherwise you will burn out.

Plan time off – go to the gym during the day if you are a night owl – don’t forget – you are the boss!  Don’t forget your family and friends – they are probably the people you are leaning on at the moment so don’t always talk about work when you see them.

Then next 365 days…

So what is next for Kate Underwood HR – well I have refreshed the website to give it a more grown-up feel. 

I will be starting to write Pocket HR my online resource and the plan is to turn that into an app with video content to give some clarity to the guidance that I am giving.

My service plans went live today – so why not take a look – spreading the cost of quality HR support to work with business and their cash flows – it all makes sense.

I will continue to give HR Health Checks to small businesses and work with them to ensure that they are compliant and looking after all aspects of their well-being.

Creating a partnership with Upskill People to allow small business access to E-Learning and costs that they can afford is a really exciting project.  E-Learning is normally in large corporate companies but it is just important to ensure training is embedded in all employees whatever the size of the organisation.

And finally…

Just before I go my last piece of advice to anyone starting up on their own – is to find a charity to support – there are so many charities that need support from time to skill-set – being a corporate sponsor and community fundraiser for The Countess Mountbatten Hospice Charity has not only allowed me to give something back to my local community which I find very rewarding but also it is another networking opportunity… yes I just couldn’t go without mentioning that again – always have a business card and never be afraid to give something away from free – one day it will come back and pat you on the back.

Please feel free to get in touch if you want to discuss anything further over a coffee or maybe a glass of wine – just don’t tell the boss !


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