There was I feeling as pleased as a very pleased thing in a very pleased place.
My business has survived one whole year!
This week marks my first anniversary as a business owner and I can tell you I was feeling pretty…well…pleased. To put it mildly!
The decision to go out on my own was one that caused me no end of angst. About 18 months ago I was in full time employment with a company I had been with for over nine years. It was like being part of a family and it was one of the best companies I had ever worked for. However it was going through a particularly rocky period and one of the options available to help it out was for me to leave and then work for them on a temporary basis and get paid as and when they needed me.
This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make but with the assurance they would still use me in the future it wasn’t really like leaving people I knew and loved. The freedom to explore other options that are not available when I’m permanently employed was also quite a tempting scenario. Another training company was courting me to work for them as well on a part time basis so from a work perspective it looked great.
My anxiety was coming from knowing I would be on my own, relying on others to have work they wanted me to do and no guarantee of a pay check at the end of the month. Add to that the usual downsides of no sick pay, holiday pay and the other financial risks involved in being self-employed. Scary stuff for someone used to permanent employment throughout their working life.
So it was with more than a little trepidation I handed in my notice and started to prepare for being my own boss. It would be ok though, I already had a couple of weeks work in month one and promise of more from a new client already. Happy days it seemed.
It was during month one however that it all started going wobbly. First of all the company that had been interested in me suddenly decided they were not taking on board any new people to do their work. Plus the work I had lined up with my old employer was withdrawn as well. Wow, talk about having the rug pulled out from under you! What was a nice safe position was now a disaster within days.
I’d barely made it two weeks into business ownership and it looked like a complete failure already. I wondered what on earth had happened, what do I do now? Had I made the right decision? Could I go back to working for my previous company? How on earth do I pay my bills at the end of the month? ARGHH!!
At this point my support structure thankfully came to my rescue. I got some financial support from my girlfriend to help with the bills and then I got my first referral.
A very good friend had heard of a training company who were looking for a trainer to help with a large contract they had just won. He put them in touch with me and before I knew where I was I had a major new client on board who had promised me work at various points on the lead up to Christmas.
August had finished and work started coming in from my old company again so the run up to Christmas had suddenly become very full. Crisis? What crisis?
My new client loved the feedback they got from my first assignments with them so they started talking about even more bookings so all that anxiety I had from the end of August suddenly vanished.
It got to December very quickly as I hadn’t stopped working since mid-September and I even got the point where I was hoping that a provisional booking the week before Christmas wouldn’t happen because I needed to have a breather.
2017 kicked off slowly though as is traditional in the training industry but little did I know that in February I would take a decision that would change my strategy for the rest of the year.
I had met Jacky Sherman from Asentiv at previous business network meetings but at this one she announced that she was looking for an associate trainer to help deliver the Asentiv programme around my part of Northamptonshire. After talking through some rough details with her I suggested that I might be interested in helping.
It has always been my intention to try and build a side to my business that didn’t rely on other companies to supply my work. I’ve always wanted to have clients of my own that generate revenue which is more under my control and the Asentiv programme looked ideal to help me obtain that goal so after getting more information from Jacky, I got the funds together to travel out to the USA so I could become accredited to deliver the material.
Referrals have been the main source of my new business so I cannot advocate enough the importance for any business to recognise how powerful this marketing tool can be. If it wasn’t for the referrals I have received I doubt very much I would now be writing a blog about my first anniversary in business.
The rest of my first year has been a mixture then of what I have been doing for the last 11 years as a Change, Project and Service Management trainer and expanding my new venture in building up an Asentiv based business.
It’s been a challenge, I will not lie to you, getting new customers and selling me is not something I have been used to. I’m fortunate in that the products I train are proven, working and sustainable frameworks and techniques that really help people and organisations get the best out of their business.
There have been ups and downs, there have been times when I’ve wondered whether I’ve done the right thing.
However I’ve stuck with it, firmly believing in the products I deal with and aiming to be the best I can be in presenting them. Meeting new people, seeing new places and meeting new challenges has been thoroughly enjoyable.
So I was feeling pretty pleased with myself until this thought entered my head when I was planning this blog.
“You know what a blog like this needs?” I thought, “some numbers”
Oh dear, why oh why did I think statistics at this point would be a good idea?
A quick search of the Internet brings up the fact that 91% of small businesses survive their 1st year. There was me thinking I’d done a great and fantastic thing and it turns out to be easy!
The article I found that contained that number then goes on to say that only 4 in 10 (I’m guessing that’s 40%) survive the first 5 years of trading. What!!? You mean the tough bit is about to happen?
That’s burst my pleased bubble a bit, coming up next will be like that difficult second album by a musician.
However, my plan is in place, my strategy is defined and I have a mission to accomplish.
Bring it on!