This is the story about my own journey, to become successful in business, which I hope will help to inspire and motivate you, if you are in business.
When I think back to my school days I would not have thought that I would be ‘freelance’ material and be able to run my own business. But here I am today, a busy Marketing Consultant, CV Writer, Volunteer and Trustee at Uckfield Volunteer Centre and a first time landlord. And I have a part-time job in a letting and management agency.
How it started
I didn’t enjoy my school days and didn’t do very well in my exams either. College wasn’t much better. Unemployment for several months followed, until a kind neighbour referred me to the Caravan Club, where he worked. I got a job and ended up staying there for around 11 years, and given substantial promotion in my final 2 years there. I was lucky to be offered a very varied role, which enabled me to build on my skills later in life.
In 1992 our son Ben was born and I gave up full-time work. I didn’t consider going back to work until over 3 years later when our daughter Lucie was born. Then we bought a computer, a small desk and dial up internet…..remember that! I still remember the familiar ring of the dial up. I also remember limiting the time we could use it, as the longer you were online, the more expensive it was. Thank goodness its unlimited nowadays!
I gained several clients simply from placing ads in free local directories. It wasn’t until my husband was made redundant that things radically changed. He too became self-employed and so our journey, learning how to run a business and do marketing really started.
My CV Writing business was in demand, and always has been. However my Virtual Assistant (VA) work dried up as my clients changed direction and moved out of the area. Also, many business owners didn’t understand what a VA was and the benefits of using one (some still don’t).
So, I decided to approach EDEAL, as I had heard that they offer free business advice to small businesses, and incidentally still do. The meeting was extremely useful and from then on my focus changed.
Also, around that time I wrote and self-published a book about my Mums time in the WAAF from 1942 onwards. She had kept diaries for 7 years, detailing every day, in the WAAF. She made me laugh! I thought if her life – not just because she’s my Mum – interested me, it would interest others. It took about 2 years on and off to write and compile and I initially had 100 copies printed, then a further 200 to keep up with demand, and it sold out. I cried with pride when the first batch of books were delivered! The publication of the book helped to give me recognition and is still commented on nowadays. It was fun publishing it, but hard work.
What I have learnt and how
I am quite determined, ideas driven, hard working, keen, and luckily have gained good business acumen along the way. Also if you are doing marketing that isn’t working, either change it or stop doing it…simple! I have found that Twitter doesn’t really give me any business, however it is a good tool for raising my profile. New people I meet often say they have seen me on Twitter. Linkedin does give some business, but again its mainly about recognition.
My suggestions for you:
- do carry a supply of business cards ‘just in case’ – you never know who you might meet.
- do build up your network of contacts and keep in touch – who you know rather than what you know helps.
- do create a website and make sure it is easily found online.
- do your homework, including researching your competitors (every few months) to give you ideas of what you can offer.
- do promote yourself particularly on Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook, whatever you find works for you.
- find out if you can join forces with a fellow business to expand what you offer.
- do network as much as you can both on and offline.
- do attend expos and/or exhibit yourself – some expos are more affordable than others!
Remember, if your website and marketing material look professional, it will give you business, but business won’t automatically come to you, even if you do have a great website. You need to work at it. And, you can never do enough networking, it will pay off.
Article written by Sue Edwards. If you would like to contribute to this blog please call 01825 761890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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