It’s time for another small business chat update! I have been featuring a fellow small business or freelancer on this blog every week for over a year now, and I’m checking in with all my interviewees to see what they’ve been up to in the past year.
Today we’re catching up with Alison Mead from Silicon Bullet. Her original interview was published on 16 July 2011. When I asked Alison where she wanted to be in a year’s time, she replied, “We would perhaps like to try a different tack with growing and take on an apprentice or year out student to grow our business, and that way we will get staff we can train to do things our way”. Let’s see what’s happened in the intervening year …
Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
I had hoped we might be further on with taking an apprentice on, but we still don’t feel quite ready for that yet. We have a freelance bookkeeper working with us (my brother) and our 16 year old son is helping out, having done his GCSEs – we feel happier keeping the business within the family.
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
I have found some wonderful new regular bookkeeping clients who see me monthly, pay their bills on time, and I really enjoy working with them. Also I am selling more Sage software through my networking clients. I have branched out and become an independent distributor of Forever Living products, which I do through Silicon Bullet even though it is a complete departure from what we usually do. It is good to have a revenue stream which does not depend on an hourly charge for my time, and I can devote as much or as little time as I like to the business (check out www.siliconbullet.myflpbiz.com for more details). The training and support available from my Forever Living team and sponsors is applicable and helpful in every part of my business.
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
I have learned to push myself out of my comfort zone more at networking. It is best to go alone rather than with a friend as you then get out there and connect with people. It is also OK to resign or stop working for clients who drain your energy or who are constantly awkward about paying bills – it is not worth the time and effort, and there are plenty of other people who need you who will not cause you such a headache! I am still working on this one myself!
Any more hints and tips for people?
Networking is not about selling your business, it is about building relationships – the business comes along naturally when people get to know you. Always look to see how you can help others with their business and links you can make between people –they will then do the same for you.
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
I hope to have built up a great team around me in the Forever Living part of my business, whilst also enjoying my bookkeeping and networking to build up the IT side of our business.
It sounds like things are going really well for Aly, with some new ventures and diversification (I’ve been diversifying this year, too – more about that on the blog some time soon). Let’s not forget Aly’s Silicon Bullet blog, either, which has been getting a good reception and building up its audience. I think this next year is going to be a good one for Aly and Paul (and the rest of their family) and the business(es).