Today we have a catch up with the lovely Alison Mead from Silicon Bullet. One of my original interviewees from 2011, we caught up with her in August 2012 and again in September 2013. Unfortunately and distressingly, Aly had a terrible year in 2014 – she didn’t do an update with me that year as her business was taking a back seat and of course she had more important things to think about than answering questions for a blog. So I’m even more delighted than usual to have her back on board, doing well with her business and forging ahead. Just to catch up, Alison’s 2013 plan was this: “By this time next year I really want to have been able to take a decent break from work, without needing to worry about business while I am gone! My husband Paul never takes a break – and we work constantly and consistently – but it is not healthy to never switch off. We are saving for a big holiday next year. Meanwhile with business it is much the same as we have been doing – onwards and upwards building up our contacts and my Forever team. I’m looking forward to growth in 2014.” Let’s check in with her now and see whether she has achieved these aims as she’s got back on track in 2015 …
Hello, Alison, and a big welcome back to Libro Towers! So, are you now where you thought you’d be when you looked forward in 2013?
2014 was an awful year for my family. Having started really positively, we lost my father after a short but brutal illness in April, and it really knocked us all for six. Business took a back seat and we just kept it going, and family came first. So my last update was 2 years ago and it’s taken far longer than I ever thought to get back in the saddle and push my business further.
One thing I wished for previously was to take a break and go on holiday with the family. Well, this year we managed a lovely week away in Minorca, which was very important to me as with two children fast growing up, family holidays may not be wanted much longer!
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
The split of our work has changed, as my husband Paul has a fantastic part-time contract with a business in Dublin which he looks after remotely from home in Northamptonshire, which means we can be more selective about the IT clients we look after. Being able to say no to business is a huge step for small business owners, as you tend to say yes so everything when you first start out as you can never be sure when the next job will come in.
With my Forever Living business, my blog which I’ve been writing for over 2 years now has become a recruitment tool for me. I now have team members in Tyne and Wear, Glasgow, and Nigeria. Blogging felt like a lot of effort for not much reward, but time and effort have paid off and now I am reaping the rewards for my writing.
I still enjoy my bookkeeping work, and my Sage Accounts training even more, but again with the other streams to our business I can be much more selective about which jobs I actually want to do.
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
Taking a break and having family time is as important to running your own business as work work work. The balance is hard, but we are getting better at spending time as a family and with friends. We have recently got our first dog, too, so we have to take breaks to look after the puppy, who is gorgeous, by the way!
Any more hints and tips for people?
I still advocate networking as a fabulous way to stay sane and find new business as a small business owner. Also it means you can get recommendations for printing your business cards, who to use for proof reading, bookkeeping advice and everything else you need. You don’t need to do everything yourself: outsource those parts of the business you find harder to do or you always procrastinate about. Even the smallest business can benefit from external help. And join organisations like the Federation of Small Businesses, which can offer you fabulous support and networking for a very reasonable price. I attend the Northampton FSB Breakfast meetings and I have made friends and gained useful referrals, too.
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
Keeping the work/life balance going is my aim for the next year. Working hard but taking breaks too. I love building my network marketing team with Forever Living too: training and supporting team members doesn’t particularly feel like work, so I will be concentrating on growing this part of my business over the next 12 months.
I’m so glad to see how well Aly and Paul are doing. I think having multiple income / business streams is a fab idea – I do that with my transcription, editing and localisation work and my books, and it does protect you from the ups and downs and keeps it interesting. I totally agree that saying no is a massive achievement and marks a place where you know that you are doing well and know what you want and which clients you best fit, and best fit you.
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.