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4 is the magic number…

Apparently, so Google tells me, 4 is the number of stability and order – I think that’s because a square has 4 sides and that makes it nice and even but I can’t be sure. Actually, lots of things come in 4s – the seasons, the elements, the horseman of the apocalypse… Oooo even the 4 leafed clover and that’s super lucky.

I’ve got distracted there, I was just trying to open with something about the beauty of the number 4 so I can segue neatly into telling you that today Linkedin reminded me that I have been running my business for 4 years (I love you Linkedin, as I would never have remembered that!). So there, I segued in the most untidy way possible but I’m back on topic.

What have I learnt in 4 years? Here’s my top 4 (see what I did there) …

  1. Nothing is immediate. I’d love to say that you can start a business and suddenly you’re a millionaire but realistically that doesn’t happen. We all have to work hard, we all doubt ourselves and we all do a happy dance at that first sale/client/success. Getting to the point where you feel like you’re actually doing well takes ages and it’s only now I’m starting to feel like that.
  2. Nothing comes to you. Sorry. I know, it sounds negative, but it’s not. When you start running a business you have to work at it: to create it, to build it, to sustain it and nothing will just be handed to you. You have to go out and look for opportunities, for ways to succeed but I can promise you that it will be worth it.
  3. Nothing prepares you. The long nights, the ridiculous hours, the utter panic… nothing really prepares you for the reality of being totally responsible for your own business. You can have studied business for years and still not know a fraction of the reality, but that’s ok – make mistakes and learn from them; develop and react to changes; adapt your ideas to be something that will work… whatever it takes you know you can do it.
  4. Nothing anyone says should stop you. If you’re lucky you’re surrounded by entrepreneurs and small business people who can help and guide and advice or at the very least understand why you feel like smashing you head against the wall repeatedly. However, the likelihood is you won’t and not everyone will understand the long hours the lack of cash flow or the other situations you find yourself in and that means that you should learn to follow your own instincts because no one knows your business better than you.

That’s the 4 sides of my square – my 4 big reflective thoughts as I reach this milestone. Next year I think I might have a party – not just write a blog… any one up for that?

Oh, and one last thing after those sentences that started with Nothing. EVERYTHING – EVERY MOMENT, EVERY TEAR, EVERY STRESS, EVERY HEADACHE – EVERYTHING IS WORTH IT (although I do miss buying shoes as much as I used to).

 

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Everyone wants a peace…

I do know I spelt that wrong, it’s a play on words because I was torn between writing about how everyone wants a piece of me at the moment and how I desperately want some peace… so I kinda mixed the two together!

My client roster has changed a lot over the last 6 weeks, it’s such an exciting and scary time- I’ve finished projects with old clients; started with new ones (which is so much fun) and have some things in the pipeline. I found the other day I’d tripled booked myself which is something I never do- And it made me realise how much I’m trying to do.

That’s another way to use my word play earlier- puzzle pieces. At the moment time management is like arranging and rearranging a giant puzzle to make everything fit together perfectly.

That’s kind of my point for this blog- how I manage when it feels like I can’t manage! Obviously I have a diary, it’s a paper one because I prefer seeing things written down, but sometimes that’s not enough when I’m having think about extra things like childcare or social appointments.

I know this sounds incredibly sad but when it gets like this I draw a chart- one that covers the crucial weeks and allows me to write in everything from childcare, to clients, to evening engagements. Seeing it all in one place really helps and I can quickly see where the gaps are.

I do one annually for the summer holidays as that’s my biggest juggling act of the year and honestly, it makes a huge difference. I know it sounds like more work but I promise if you’ve got a hectic few weeks it’s worth it.

So sort out those puzzle pieces, fit in the people who want a piece and get some peace ;-)

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A blog in the hand or two in the bush are useless without a website…

Today we have a blog rolled up in a blog due to an epic fail on my part. Two weeks ago I sat down one evening and wrote a quick few words about work life balance, I logged on to upload it and found that my website had disappeared.

You know that feeling when you get when the bottom of your stomach drops out? That.

Now obviously I have the complicated set up on my website/domain/hosting and recently I decided to change my email host and (*cough cough*) accidentally renamed my name servers… if that means nothing to you, I wouldn’t worry, I was utterly lost too.

So I’d messed up, an hour on live chat to my hosting company and some resetting was done. A patient 48 hours later and it’s still not there. Arrgghhhh. Another live chat convo, 12 hour wait and hallelujah it’s back! Of course, now my emails not working and that’s another hour of stress before it’s all back to normal!

You know what I learnt from this? It is possible to do everything yourself but it takes time and there’s a reason that subject matter experts exist! I’m stubborn though and I’d probably do the same again although it’s caused a few more grey hairs.

Anyway, here’s the blog you didn’t get to see…

Honestly, it’s a piece of cake

Tomorrow is my sons 6th birthday, this surprises me as I’m pretty sure I gave birth to him yesterday but I’ve checked and he’s definitely going to be 6.

He didn’t ask for anything, until two days ago and now it’s too late to go and get what he wants so he’ll just have to enjoy the things we thought he wanted: #firstworldproblems.

In the meantime I have a four page list of bits that need tackling, I have a potential new client to call, I have school inform to sort for next week and I have a hen do to organise in 5 days’ time… Am I doing any of that?

Nope.

I am in fact planning a birthday cake (my son’s in case you thought I’d started a random side business). I love working and I was up doing it at 7.30 this morning (nothing more exciting that early morning GDPR) but 3 and a half years ago when I started the business it was to create more flexibility to be with my children and although the business has grown to the point where I could be working 24/7 and still have loads to do my core values are still the same.

So you’ll forgive me for cutting this short but I have to mould 4 ninja turtle heads from icing and tomorrow I’m for a day at the zoo.

I’ll still get everything done, but for now it can wait whilst I prepare to say happy birthday to my (very nearly) 6 year old!

 

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Feel the Fear, Take the Leap

Bit of a mixed metaphor there but it’s literally and metaphorically what I wanted to talk about.

I recently went to France to see family, we were in the Mont Blanc mountain range and every day the bright blue sky was filled with brightly coloured paragliders enjoying the stunning views and getting their Adrenalin fix. I’m scared of heights- like struggle to climb those open staircases or go up ladders but for some reason I wanted to be up there with them. I also get motion sickness, in a car, in a boat, on the swings in the park.

Without allowing myself time to think I found a company, I emailed and I’d booked myself in for 9am the next morning. I was too busy sorting logistics to think about it too much. The next morning I was coursing with Adrenalin, got to the meeting point only to be told the weather was too bad to do it.

I can’t tell you what it’s like to build yourself up for something only to have it not happen, it’s like psyching yourself up for a fight only to have your opponent run away!

Long story short but after lunch the sun came out and it was back on. Back I went, up the mountain in the cable car and a brisk walk to the take off spot.

It was at this point my brain decided to remind me that I don’t like heights and that running off a cliff edge was not the most sensible idea. I’m having this internal dialogue whilst Oliver is strapping me into all the gear and giving me instructions. Then he was telling me that the wind was perfect and I had to go.

I didn’t think, I just walked- literally off the edge of a mountain…

It was the most amazing thing, that feeling of flying and the view was stunning (despite being a long long way away!). I cannot tell you how glad I am I did it.

It made me realise that sometimes fear is crippling, it stops us doing things that could change our lives or enhance our experiences and we should never let that happen. Recognise your fear, admit it but do the thing that scares you anyway- great things can happen.

Turns out I get air sick as well by the way. Good to know though!

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I’m Sick of This…

I’m just kidding, I’m not really sick of anything; but it did get your attention! What I was actually going to write about was the difficulty of being self-employed when you’re ill and the title just kinda jumped out at me.

Recently I got sick, not seriously so but a nasty little infection that really knocked me for six. I took Monday off sick, just the one day, I indulged in my illness and felt a bit guilty the whole time (when I wasn’t asleep because I slept A LOT that day!).

On Tuesday I dragged myself up, I went to the office and I worked a long day- it was mostly productive, I got more tired as the day went on and started to ache but, whatever, I was working and that was the main thing.

On Wednesday I had two infections. I know this because the GP told me, slightly incredulously, but still. On Friday I had three infections… you honestly can’t make this stuff up.

So, I stopped, I took more days off and I swear the guilt I felt was almost as bad as the pain. I hated resting, I hated not working and most of all I hated feeling like I’d let everyone down.

I don’t think that’s abnormal. Self-employed people don’t work and they don’t get paid, so being ill is an actual problem. However, trying to do too much only makes it worse. Had I not gone back after only one day I might not have been as ill for as long… who knows.

Guilt is a projection of our own anxieties, not a realistic reading of the situation. So, trying to guess what other people are thinking is pointless, try to focus on what the problem is and how you can solve it and if that’s taking your time to get yourself better then so be it.

What I do know is that working when you’re not your best means subpar work and that’s no good to anyone. I also know that taking time for yourself stops things getting bad and the results aren’t catastrophic- I took a few days off and my clients didn’t disappear, the work got gone in the end and everything is fine.

I also know that my GP is not self-employed as she diagnosed stress and suggested a couple of weeks off. I rolled my eyes.