‘Enterprisingly Me’ is a monthly feature where you can follow my entrepreneurial adventures. Names have been changed to protect the innocent but everything you read really happened.
I hope my story inspires you to take your first steps, or if you already have, then it lets you know you’re not on your own. Starting and running a successful business isn’t about being perfect. It’s about loving what you’re doing, learning from your mistakes and keeping the faith.
It’s good to be back from my travels!
Holidays are fine but I just couldn’t switch off – thank goodness for wifi. At least I could keep in touch with what was going on at home whilst spending some quality time with my daughter. The girls in the office looked after everything perfectly whilst I was away so I’m not sure what I was worried about and actually, I think they enjoyed being in charge. I made a note to myself to give them a bit more freedom in the decision making as they become more confident in their roles. I do tend to be a bit of a control freak, always wanting to be in control of how the business is run, but I’m realising that to keep staff motivated I need to involve them more in the day to day running of the business and in planning for the future.
Things are looking positive in terms of new business opportunities, but I hadn’t realised what an effect the summer would have on us. Everything’s gone really quiet – everyone is either on holiday or thinking about going on holiday and the last thing that’s on their mind is talking to us. Not good for cash flow. We’ve got a great new training room so we’ve started thinking about how we can earn some income from it when we’re not using it. I really hadn’t thought about how seasonal training is and how we could lose almost three months of the year whilst people are in holiday mode.
I think I’ve been a bit complacent up until now as all of our work has come to us by word of mouth, but I realise that if I want to grow the business then I need to have a better plan for how I will promote the business – I’ve mainly done this myself up to now.
I’ve been contacted by Chris, someone I used to work with, who wants to come and speak to me about a new project he thinks we could do together. I have to silence my inner ‘only child’ syndrome and get used to the idea that if I really want to grow the business then I can’t do everything myself…
I know it’s my fault so as money gets tighter I’m starting to think that I’m going to have to speak to the bank about an overdraft or a loan. Obviously I can take less drawings from the business but that can’t go on indefinitely. I have work starting in September but as July comes to an end we are starting to flag in terms of money in the bank. Why didn’t I think about this sooner? I’ve been so busy riding along on the crest of success that I just haven’t put money aside for the quiet times.
I’ve made an appointment to see the bank manager and have started to look at my finances in a bit more detail. I’m starting to realise that we may have moved too soon. Why is it I’m always looking to put myself under more pressure when its not needed? Why did I feel I needed to take on even more responsibility? Things were just starting to plod along nicely, but oh no, I had to take the next step and move into bigger premises without thinking that I may need to hold off until after the summer.
Shouldn’t I have thought about business going quiet when we hit the summer holiday season? Too late now given I’ve just signed the three year lease on our new premises. My speculate to accumulate theory is well flawed! I’m realising it’s probably not the same as the theory relating to buying a new outfit and paying to have my hair done to attract my ideal man – is there such a thing? Am I allowed to even think that never mind say it? Is that what a proper businesswoman would think/say? Note to self – ask my mentor.
That reminds me, I haven’t heard from my mentor for weeks and I’ve been so busy I haven’t even had time to speak to my friend and business confidante, Beryl. I’ve made a note in my diary to ring her at the weekend and arrange to meet for a coffee. It will be good to get her take on how to deal with my quieter times and whether I could have done anything different. I probably have the answer to that one myself:
- Keep an eye on the cashflow and plan for the quieter times
- Don’t jump into things with two feet until I’ve thought through the consequences
- Speak to someone who is further down the line than me in terms of business know how
- Don’t adopt the same theory that I’ve used in my personal life in the business unless I want to end up penniless and destitute.
So moving forward this is what I’ve decided to do to try and manage through the next few months:
- Meet with my accountant and get an up to date and accurate picture of where I am in terms of my profit and loss and cash flow – in other words how much do I have in the bank and how much can I expect to come in and go out of the business in the next three months
- Meet with my bank manager to discuss options – having all my financial information to hand should make the discussion easier
- Work with Marie and Claire to discuss how we can promote the business better
- Speak to Beryl about how we can put together some leaflets to send out to people
- Look to see if there are any local networking groups that we could join as I feel I need to make us more ‘visible’
- Get some feedback from our existing customers that we could use in some promotional leaflets
- Talk to someone about getting a website – although I’ve heard this can be expensive, so I need to think about this a bit more particularly as things are going to be tight for us during the next few months.
I feel a bit disheartened – just when I thought things were going so well. I suppose I should have expected that it wouldn’t all be plain sailing, although owning a business always seemed such a glamorous thing to do. I obviously hadn’t thought that the glamorous bit would be so short lived. BUT, now I’ve had a taste of the glamour (all right, it might not be your definition of glamour but I’ve led a very sheltered life growing up in Hartlepool) I’m even more determined to make the business work.