ONE YEAR ON…
What a whirlwind this past year has been! If someone had told me when I started, a year from now we’d be in lockdown due to a viral outbreak, I’d have said they’re mental and that I’d have more of a chance of being attacked by my trousers. So in light of the recent events, it’s given me time to reflect on the “where’s”, the “why’s” and the “how’s” for me as a person, my business, and what improvements I can make.
GROWING INTO MY SHOES
I’d always classed myself as an IT Geek in that I just absolutely lived for anything computer-y. I always wanted others to embrace the same sort of love and passion for the world of tech that I had.
I’d considered taking that leap of faith into the world of self-employment on a few occasions, but I felt the business side was very daunting to near on impossible… Corporation tax, VAT, PAYE were words I learnt in my business studies classes, but applying them to real-life business was just a “Hell no!”. But as I worked for a few IT Companies over my career taking on several roles starting as an IT service desk apprentice, working my way up the ranks, learning from some truly amazing people.
I reached the level of management and being the person involved in choosing new, or revamping the existing products and services the business should start offering to better serve its customers. Here’s where my ‘Hell no’ feeling started to diminish.
I knew my journey had allowed me to build my knowledge, abilities and gain an understanding not just on a technical side, but the business side too. At this point, I wanted to do this kind of thing but for my very own business, so after a few weeks of brushing up my A-Level business studies terminology and doing lots of research, I was as ready as I was ever going to be so pushed the metaphorical button on the new business.
MAKING THE LEAP
Starting a new business is one of the most nerve-racking things I have ever done. After taking on my first, and the largest client still to this day, the morning of trading without all my systems setup was the busiest, stressful but fun and exciting times of my life. No safety nets, it’s all me for SpudIT. I LOVED that risk, like a really boring adrenaline junkie. Making that leap made me realise it was the right decision. There are no physical signs to tell you, just the gut feeling that I’m sure other people have felt. It made me want to work harder, better, faster than I’d ever worked in my life. I’m always one that worked quite a bit longer than my designated hours. As this was “my baby”, I wanted to make sure it had the best of chance of succeeding possible.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
I learnt very quickly “doing everything” really meant everything; managing all aspects of sales, accounts, marketing, HR was again an absolutely amazing, if at times stressful, learning experience. It’s always the terminology used, and specific processes used that is a challenge.
I was told by a good friend of mine that although there are several aspects of a business to run, to never be the Lone Ranger, get advice from people and businesses that do it for a living. Which was again was something that sounded so obvious but really opened my eyes to the questions like “why the hell am I spending way too long on colour and theme designs for my business cards where I know someone who does this for a living?”. So on that sound advice, I got things like that sorted, and they’ve done so much better than I could ever do.
Whilst the business is just me, I learnt the ultimate lesson. Although it’s another obvious one, it completely slipped passed me. People don’t buy from businesses; they buy from people. I put my hands up to initially hiding behind the brand of SpudIT but realised fairly quickly that there needs to be a face to this business, and whether I like it or not it’s me. Despite me sometimes wanting to go into my introverted IT geek self I am the person at the forefront of my business. So, it’s really me who needs to be “Out there” not the business which I’ve not just accepted but embraced.
So, after the last 12 months of SpudIT trading, it’s time for some reflection. Above all else, I feel I’ve learnt an incredible amount. I can see on a day to day basis how it has rounded me as a person to not just think literally or technically but see that big picture and how to quickly adapt to the situation at hand. I’d compare it to something like learning to drive, once you’ve passed your test, then you actually teach yourself to drive. The same way that previous places were preparing me as a person to handle each role with the stresses and demands of a business.
I’ve learnt who I am, what I want to be, and how to apply that ideal to my business. I believe I am ready for the next stage; I’ve spent time on the initial groundworks to build what I hope is a great, solid business. I don’t know that, as it’s the first business I have owned and ran, but that’s what excites me more. It’s the unknown, and yes, I might screw up every now and again, but I know I will take that as a lesson, not as a “I might as well give up”.
So here’s to the next 12 months whatever they might bring. My personal goals are simple and solely focused on expanding the business. With that I know will bring new, harder challenges that I’m as prepared as I hope I can be. I know I have a fantastic group of supportive people around me to help where they can.
So I celebrate the leap, I’m proud of what I’ve built over the last 12 months and I am full of hope for when times get back on an even keel and I can fulfil my goals.