Welcome to another Small Business Update, and I’m sorry it’s a bit late but I had commitments to clients and had committed the terrible blogger’s sin of not scheduling in advance. Today we’re catching up with Julia Walton from J. Walton Restoration who we first met in July 2013. When I asked her then where she wanted to be now, she replied “Hopefully contentedly plodding along much as I am now (maybe with a bit more money coming in, though). I can only do as much as I can so don’t want to increase my workload too much. I’d rather enjoy my work and do it well: I might as well be doing something different and have a job that pays more money if I’m not going to enjoy myself”. That sounded like a good plan to me, so let’s find out how she’s been getting on …
Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
I don’t feel things have changed that much in the past year as much as I’d hoped. I’m still working on increasing my client base. I have some things in the pipeline and am hoping for some good feedback on a large job I have coming in soon.
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
One big change which actually occurred this summer is that I’m breaking up a working relationship with a joiner I’ve been working with. I’m taking a chance of dropping the client because the work really doesn’t suit my skills. This way I’m giving myself more time to devote to work that will stretch and improve my skills.
What have you learned?
I’ve learned that taking on a job that’s not really in my field just because it pays is not always a good experience. By stepping outside my comfort zone I’ve learned new skills and how to transfer the skills I have, but on a couple of occasions I’ve really regretted not trusting my initial instincts and have wasted a lot of time worrying over jobs I shouldn’t have started.
What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
About a year ago I took on a client that was pretty toxic. If I could go back in time I’d definitely make sure I told myself not to be so trusting and set a very short limit on working with outstanding payments!
Any more hints and tips for people?
Take time to assess each and every job before saying yes. Even if it’s from a client you deal with all the time, if the job is not what you feel comfortable doing just say no rather than worry about it after you’re committed. Remember to give the customer what they want, nothing more and definitely nothing less, if you can’t do that then don’t take on the job.
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
I’m really not sure. Permanent workshop space is an issue and I think that’s something I need to look at, however relocation back to the north of England is niggling away at the back of my mind, we’ll see.
It looks like some good lessons learned there. It is often a few years in to a business that a) you start to look more carefully about which clients and opportunities to say yes to, and b) you start to explore diversifying and looking at new areas to grow into – but as Julia comments, it is vitally important to make sure that you assess those opportunities and check whether it’s something that you want to do again. I wonder where Julia will be in another year’s time – both with her business and her location! I’m looking forward to finding out!
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.