Wow…one year in to being self employed. If there is anybody reading this who has been following me, then you have probably already heard that my company is one year old. You have probably seen me banging on about my business over and over for the past year. Annoying?! Its called ‘strangulating the market place’, a technique used by the multi-multi-million pound American businessman, Gary Vaynerchuk. If it’s annoying and you don’t like it, stop watching, because year two is going to be even worse!
After years and years of wanting something so badly, in the blink of an eye one year has passed of having it: running my own business, running my own life on my own terms. And what a year it has been! I’ve experienced a mix of emotions: fear, anxiety, frustration and overwhelming happiness. More importantly, I have learnt things about myself that I never knew existed.
The business started out fantastically well with a flood of work, work I am extremely proud of, but at the same time maybe lacks quality. Or maybe I am just too hard on myself. I’ll let the public or the client decide. I have become frustrated at times at certain projects that may have taken longer than they should have or I have made mistakes and only noticed after the launch of a project (damn you Samsung S9s). But at the end of the day, mistakes or struggles along the way are all massive learning curves and some of the projects that I have produced over the last year I strongly believe are as good, if not better, as some projects I have seen by award winning creative designers in the North West area. Generic WordPress templates produced for thousands and thousands of pounds by the ‘big’ companies annoy me.
Financially, mid-way through wasn’t easy. I’ll be honest, we have just about made it some months, which was very difficult mentally because it does make you think if you have made the right decision; things would be so much easier with a guaranteed payday at the end of the month, but its all about mindset. I made a three-month financial target which was low (and I mean low!). We smashed it obviously but then I made myself a promise we would grow the business 200% every three months until the end of year one.
I achieved this by reflecting after each three months: I would sit and write down what worked for me and what didn’t. I also considered the extras I could do, and came up with the following:
• more networking - four events per month instead of two,
• email or call existing clients requesting referrals,
• get out of bed at 5:30am instead of 6:00am!
• call and speak to potential leads directly instead of emailing or direct message (this for me has been a massive game changer),
• mix with positive people and lose the negative ones.
Focusing on all these things meant I kept my promise to myself and we grew the business by 800% from month 4-12!! We now aim to grow this by another 200% by the end of year two.
The things I have learnt about myself have been mind blowing; I definitely wasn’t great at being a ‘people’s person’ when I was at my last employed job. I really couldn’t be bothered listening to tales of the weekend from some colleagues on a Monday morning, or hearing the banter about works nights out. I must have come across as very arrogant to some people, which I am deeply sorry for (some others can still fuck off : ) But I honestly put this down to mental health and depression problems, and maybe because things in my life didn’t turn out as planned at some points. Thankfully, a friend of mine gave me a few books to read, we had a little chat about mindset and then eventually a light bulb was lit and bang! I was off.
I look at people completely differently now. I never judge a book by its cover and I give everyone a chance; I try and see the good and the positive side to everything and everyone. This has proved massively successful in my business and in my life. I was always fortunate to be popular growing up and I do have a lot of friends, but I have probably met more new friends and ‘business buddies’ - especially in the Oldham area - and made a good positive impact on people in the past twelve months than I have in my life all due to MINDSET and POSITIVITY.
I haven’t had many breaks in the last year which, for me, is quite unbelievable. I normally holiday 3-4 times a year, we have had the odd couple of days here and there in London, but some of these were business trips so they don’t count. We have a ten day break coming up in Northern Spain which I will need to be honest! As much as I bang on about work, work, work, the last few weeks I’ve struggled to find a bit of momentum to really get going in the morning. This could be mainly down to having a full work diary, therefore the desire to get up and go and find more work isn’t there, which is not the right attitude to have. I’ve had a lot of down days recently when in reality, there is nothing to be down about. I’m putting it down to being maybe slightly burnt out so ten days in the sun with many mojitos (and my laptop) will recharge the batteries ready to smash year two into year three.
But before I board a flight, I have the launch of a brand new website for the company. It has taken many, many hours of blood, sweat and tears, and a million changes of mind, but I believe the website is a true reflection of where I am at with the business, and as a designer. With the 200% growth push, along with all new marketing systems for year two, I truly believe the new site will take Forty3 Media to the next level.
I want to thank all my existing clients, and the recent new ones, as we all push our businesses forward together. And thank you to everybody who is still keeping the faith.
See you in the sun.