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Small business chat updates – Ruth Badley and Helen McPherson

16 Nov

mugsToday we have updates from another two of my interviewees. I’m so pleased that so many of them are still going strong – it does mean that I have to double up some of the update posts to make sure that I can fit everyone in, though! This time we’re hearing from two women who are running and developing their businesses in the growth stage. Ruth Badley has seen good growth this year, while Helen McPherson has found life settling down a bit after a hectic year in 2012.

Ruth Badley

We first met Ruth and her PR company back in October 2012, and at that point she was working hard on developing her business, with firm plans for development for the year ahead: “I would like to be busy with the existing clients I have, whilst still working on creating new business opportunities. I find this a difficult balance to achieve”.Did she achieve that balance? Read on to find out …

Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

I am honestly much further on than I thought I’d be. The last year has been a real turning point, as all my new client work has come through recommendation. I now have new clients across the UK and also work with an international corporation. It’s been an incredible 12 months.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I have more confidence in myself and my business. That means I am not afraid to turn down work if I feel it would take me in a direction I would not be comfortable with. I still don’t have a website and am now wondering if I really need one!

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I have learned to be much more assertive about my payment terms and conditions.  I really wish I had known a year ago that the client I had taken on and worked hard for had no intention of paying me. When the situation became clear, I made the decision to walk away, rather than get embroiled in a protracted fight. That was the right thing to do and I have taken away some valuable learning points from that one–off experience.

Any more hints and tips for people?

I think when you start out in your own business, there is a temptation to over promise and it is a dangerous thing to do because you are setting yourself up to under deliver. I have worked with people in the past who do this, and it gives PR and those who work in it a bad reputation. I am always realistic (but quietly ambitious) about what I can achieve for clients. With this tactic, it is much more likely that the results will surpass expectation and that’s always my aim.

And where do you see yourself and your business in another year’s time?

I hope to consolidate and keep the clients I have. I don’t have much more capacity right now and it was never my plan to grow so big I needed to take on staff to cope. I have no wish to build an empire – doing a good job for the clients I have is enough for me.

Oh dear – I bet we’ve all built our terms and conditions on those lessons we’ve learned along the way, haven’t we! I certainly have! I do believe in having a website to improve your findability, but then it is tricky when you’re fully busy and have to turn people away. I’m going to be publishing a series of articles soon on how to grow your business, but, like Ruth, I’m not planning on taking on any staff, as both of our businesses are very much around “us”, and I don’t think either of us wants the hassle of employing people! Good luck to Ruth for a stable and successful coming year.

For more information on Ruth Badley PR see her LinkedIn profile. Ruth can be contacted via email or by phone on 07929 420 360 or you can follow her on Twitter.

Helen McPherson

Helen was a full-time hypnotherapist when we first met her in 2011. By her 2012 interview, she had moved house (twice) and had left behind her client base, but was concentrating on her CD sales. Now she’s had another change of direction, but is still persisting with her CDs. It’s very interesting to see my interviewees moving in and out of employment and self-employment, although very few of them cease doing their own thing entirely … This time last year, her plan was to be – “Hopefully in the same physical place I am in now!  I can see my CD sales going very well, with another one in the pipeline. I would like to say another two, but making a high quality product really does take time and I refuse to rush anything through that does not live up to the high standards I expect of myself”.

Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Yes, I am pretty much where I thought I would be when I looked forward a year ago.  And I am glad to say I am in the same physical place although the house has changed a bit around me, which is a very good thing!

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I have retrained as a teacher of Business Studies and Economics and I have a great job in an excellent school.  My CDs are selling very well and are a passive income stream.  Achieving the business objective of survival during the recession pretty much killed me mentally, when all I wanted to do was to grow.  Eventually the boredom and lack of income made me go back to employment.  I have not brought out a new CD yet due to time constraints, but one of my CDs (The Birth CD) is on the shortlist for the Mother and Baby Awards this year in the category of Best Maternity Product, which is very exciting.  The results are announced on the 27th November and it would be a fabulous boost to win.

Retraining as a teacher was interesting but the real killer has been the 18 hour intensive days that teachers work.  If you think it’s an easy job because of the holidays, think again. The day itself is intense because you are in front of classes for most of the day and I bring work home every evening and weekend. It is half term now [as I write this] and I am working rather than taking time off.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

What I have learnt since last year is that teachers work harder than anyone else realises!  What I wish I had known a year ago was to ask different questions at job interviews.

Any more hints and tips for people?

My advice to anyone is to do what you enjoy, be prepared to change direction if need be and to seek out a passive income stream for your business.  Many small businesses are sole traders in the service industries so all the pressure and expertise is yours.  If you can have a stream of income that does not rely on you and you alone, then you can get on with growing your business and taking it in new directions, or in my case, taking myself in a very new direction.

And where do you see yourself and your business in another year’s time?

I can see my business being pretty much in the same place in a year’s time.  I may have been able to bring out another CD over the summer, but it very much depends on how busy I am over the summer term.  CD sales have continued to grow this year and I expect further growth next year, especially if I win the Mother and Baby Award.

Passive income is a good support for weathering the storms, and of course you can earn from that while you’re doing all sorts of different things. It is hard to build that up, though, as I’ve found with my own e-books. Good luck to Helen in the awards!

Helen’s CDs are available on Amazon and you can contact her by email. The new website is not quite finished yet but the old pages are available on www.helenmcpherson.com

If you’ve enjoyed these interviews, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured. If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my new book, Going It Alone At 40: How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2013 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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4 responses to “Small business chat updates – Ruth Badley and Helen McPherson

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