One Year Older, One Year Wiser!
My first year in business has come and gone, and I’m asking how on earth have 365 days passed already? Some of those days brought smiles, some brought tears, but most of all, they brought 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 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. 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 all about building relationships, which takes time. Find a group or a couple of groups that you fit and commit to them. Make sure you meet up for coffee and find about people, not just tell them about what you do. There’s so much to say about networking that I could write a whole blog post dedicated to the subject, but will park for now.
Know Your Strengths
In the first 365 days of running my own business, I’ve realised that you have to do everything yourself, so figure out what your strengths are. For everything else, find some support such as a Virtual Assistant or, if you are not good at maths, a bookkeeper. 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, 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 with manual accounts at weekends has paid off, who knew?!
Marketing 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; it’s not all about finding customers, but finding ways to assist yourself.
If You Get Knocked Down, Dust Yourself Off And Try Again
Many things are a learning curve, and sometimes things don’t go the way you hope. I have never entered any awards for myself – plenty for teams that I have worked for and with – so I’ve never had the scrutiny of someone examing at what I do until now.
Being part of the Venus Awards these past 365 days has been a wonderful experience. I’ve 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 six months of business – I don’t think that is too bad for a rookie!
Learn To Say No
When you first start out; the phone first calls or emails make you jump, so make sure 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 bills need to be paid, but stay true to your vision.
Make Time For Yourself
You could spend 24/7, 365 days a year trying to complete your to-do list but let’s be realistic; when did you ever 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.
The Next 365 Days…
So what’s 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 bring extra clarity to the guidance that I am giving.
Why not take a look at my service plans, which went live today. They allow you to spread the cost of quality HR support so you’re not faced with an unexpected bill at the end of the month.
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.
It won’t take 365 days as the wheels are alrady in motion, but I’ll be creating a partnership with Upskill People. Helping small businesses find affordable access to E-Learning is a genuinely inspiring project. E-Learning is generally reserved for larger, corporate companies, but it is just important to ensure training is embedded in all employees whatever the size of your organisation.
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. Becoming 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 it acts as 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 over a coffee or maybe a glass of wine – just don’t tell the boss!
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