Launching in Lockdown: 1 Year Later
Today I'm celebrating a year since I went self-employed and launched what is now Networking KnoWho Ltd!
I'm not going to lie if you'd told me then, that a year later we'd still be in lockdown I don't know if I'd have had the courage to do it. Having in-person networking events taken away was scary then, when I naively thought it would last a couple of months. But for a whole year of no face-to-face I really don't know if I'd done it!
Without a doubt though I am so frikin glad that I did.
(Here's me ready to deliver my first remote training session: April 2020)
I have learnt more this past year than any other in my personal or professional life to date. I've achieved so much more than I thought possible, worked with so many amazing people (most of whom I've never been in the same room with!), and I'm on the brink of launching a complete company rebrand and amazing new strategic networking platform!
The point of this post though isn't to pat myself on the back and say how wonderful I am (which we all know is completely true), no, it's to reflect on the craziness that has been the last 12 months: the lessons learnt, the knowledge gained, and share some of it in the hope that it helps someone else on their journey too.
So from the first year in business, with a small baby and a global pandemic, here are my biggest takeaways:
Simply saying yes to opportunities that come your way can be the difference between make or break, especially for start-ups. Putting yourself out there without an agenda and simply seeing what comes back from it is scary, but super exciting at the same time! I've lost track of the things that have come off the back of other things this year - opportunities I'd have never come across had I not said yes and just gone for it!
A year ago I thought I'll rebrand once I've got x in the bank and I'll start thinking about building the platform after I've been going for a year. But why? What was I waiting for?! There's always a way to make things happen, you just need to do your research, speak to the people in your network, and get it done. One of the best bits of advice I ever got was from someone who actually stopped me mid-sentence and said "Don't talk to me about it, just do it." Was a bit rude, but she got her point across! This year has definitely taught me not to wait because there's never a perfect time. There'll always be something in the way, and if a global pandemic can't stop us nothing can.
I've taken a lot more time to get to know myself this year, and that's something I'll take with me post-lockdown. Like most people I've found lockdown has freed up a lot of space in my life to reflect on what I actually want and more importantly who I am. Not to get too philosophical but I think it's really important to know who you are so you can build a life, and a business, that enables you to be fulfilled. Being part of the fantastic DCI (Durham City Incubator) programme has really pushed me to think about what my goal for the business is. Do I want to build it and sell it? Will I need investment? Do I want to take on debt? What's my 'why'?! To be able to answer your companies 'why' you first need to know your own.
As well as personal development I've found a new thirst for knowledge since lockdown began and can't get enough audiobooks! Reading's never been an enjoyable activity for me, so discovering I can get the information I want simply by listening has genuinely changed my life. I've been inhaling business books, psychology, philosophy, personal development, all kinds of stuff, and the want to keep learning gets stronger with each new lesson. I've also discovered the world of online learning through remote courses - mainly because part of my diversification plan when lockdown hit was to create online content. These courses have again opened up a new way of learning and being able to tap into expert knowledge from around the world. Gamechanger.
No One Is Coming
Whenever something happens like a light bulb goes out or the garden fence needs painting, and my initial reaction is just to leave it, someone else will sort it, I tell myself: No one is coming Jeni. No one is coming. And it gives me the kick up the a$$ I need to crack on and get it done! Well I've started applying that to business and wow does it make me more productive! As there is only me who can respond to emails, update the website, write copy for social, answer the accountant, source T&C's for the platform, whatever it is that I can't really be bothered to do but needs doing regardless, telling myself no one is coming really does make a difference and I get it done!
Yes of course I delegate and pull in experts when needed, but the day-to-day stuff that can easily pile up now goes on my 'Ta Da' rather than my 'To Do' list and if I hit a mental barrier that I need a little push to get over this is my new go-to.
And there you have it! Just like that the first year is all done and dusted. To keep up with our journey as it happens be sure to sign up to our newsletter - coming very soon, as is the unveiling of our amazing new rebrand (eeek!) and of course the worlds first strategic networking platform!
To find out more about the platform take a look at one of our previous blog posts HERE!