As I celebrate my first year of my business, I thought I would share a ‘brutally honest’ overview of my year…..
A nice secure job with a guaranteed income is the world that I had lived in for many many years – I worked hard, I was driven and consistently exceeded targets, had great relationships with my Clients and had good strong team members around me – at times still working in the office at 10pm, or driving to Bristol at 5am, but I was happy and loved the challenges that were consistently put in front of me.
I loved what I did for most of my career, but then something changed, and I started to think about my own business! My Partner Richard was extremely supportive and on numerous occasions tried to motivate me to give up the corporate world and launch my business idea – I was never brave enough!
Something suddenly happened, I wasn’t enjoying a new role that I had moved into, and it felt right to ‘go for it’, and that is exactly what I did.
I resigned in November 2018, finished my employment on 2nd January 2019, and Amanda Heritage Virtual Services was launched on 7th January 2019. Evenings were not only filed with Christmas planning, they were also planning my website, writing content for the web designers, researching my fees, finalising the services that I wanted to offer and getting prepared with all the basics, like business cards and flyers.
I remember throughout this whole time feeling so excited – not nervous, just pure excitement!
My Christmas present was a laptop – I’d had company laptops for years, so I didn’t have my own! I kitted out my home office in my style – matching, organised and neat!
Day 1 arrived, and my Son returned to School and Richard to work. So I made my way to my office, and started to think about my Social Media platforms – these were created and went live that day. I then decided that I would advertise in our local parish magazine – £60 for 12 months, and I was bound to get work from the local villages!! In 12 months, this is the only money that I have spent on marketing, and you’ve guessed it, I didn’t get one enquiry – not such a great return on investment!
I then started to investigate networking events – I had a very good friend who is a strong networker, so off I went with her one evening to a local event – no business cards, as these were arriving the next day, but I created some ‘flyers’ to hand out. This was the beginning of my networking life, and I am extremely grateful for this (more about this later).
Within the first week, I had my first enquiry through my website – the lady had found my details on a Social Media post and was enquiring about one of my lifestyle services. We booked an appointment for the following week. I was delighted, my first Client within 3 days of launching!
I always knew that I wanted to find a good networking group that I could join, and Athena Networking popped up on my social media feed one day (fate) – a female networking group for Women Executives and Entrepreneurs. I liked the sound of this and took myself along to the next meeting as a visitor. 10 months into my journey with Athena, and it’s definitely the best thing that I’ve done in my first year – I’ve met some amazing ladies, who have become friends and continue to recommend me, and who also engaged me to work with them on their business.
I then tested some ‘drop in’ networking groups, as I also wanted to attend when my diary allowed me to. This too has been a great source of getting to know people and gaining business.
I continued on my journey and started to get more and more enquiries via Social Media – so for those of you that follow my page, this is why I post every day and will continue to do so, it’s a great marketing platform for me that has proven itself over 12 months.
As my journey continued, so did my Client base, and also a great collaboration with a lady that I met on Social Media (good old Social Media) who owns a PR & Marketing company in Thame – we met, we got on, and we continue to have a strong working relationship where we have combined Clients, supporting them in our specialised areas.
Throughout the 12 months, my most ‘wanted’ service has been Social Media training – I’ve been so lucky to have trained local apprenticeship groups, retailers, run breakfast workshops, presented a workshop to local charities (many of these are now ongoing Clients) and a lot of small businesses like me, who need to know how to maximise Social Media for their business.
I definitely expected more within the first 3 months of launching. Yes I had Clients, and I was making a profit, but I had envisaged more, and wanted more.
Throughout my 12 months, I have, week on week grown the business with new Clients and existing Clients who are now using more than one of my services.
I love the fact that I am totally accountable for my business, I write and deliver presentations (no one wants to check and change these – unlike the corporate world), I manage my own diary – yes, I’ve only had 2 weeks off this year, but, I didn’t start my business to slow down, I started it as I wanted to offer Clients solutions that I felt were needed and to be able to build a strong, successful brand and business of my own.
I’ve had some amazing hi-lights in my 12 month journey;-
- When you go to a ‘walk in’ networking event, midway through the meeting, the chairperson stops the meeting, and all of the attendees get 10 seconds to tell the audience who they are (your pitch). I did this in the usual way at an evening event, at the end after everyone had spoken, a man come over and said it’s lovely to put a face behind the company name – I’ve seen lots of Social Media posts from you! How amazing did I feel for the rest of that night!
- I’ve worked with Clients who have not only given me a great testimonial after working with them, they then share with me how their business has grown/changed as a result of us working together.
- I’ve now got to the stage where people recognise the company – either from Social Media or networking, and I still stand so proud when someone tells me that they’ve heard of me!
The business has evolved over 12 months, I’ve reviewed my overall offer and tweaked this based on what I believe Clients need and also the gaps that I’ve identified.
I have made some changes and additions ready for 2020 and will continue to grow the business throughout this period.
It’s a really exciting time for me, I’m lucky that my business has grown from strength to strength in 2019, and my vision is that this will continue during 2020.
For those of you that have touched Amanda Heritage Virtual Services in anyway in the last 12 months, thank you!