RSS

Tag Archives: freelancing

Happy birthday to me! (or, rather, to my business)

Happy birthday to me! (or, rather, to my business)

Although I issued my first invoice in August 2009 (and so will be celebrating in August, too), when I set up as self-employed, I matched my financial years to the UK’s financial years, to make everything easier, and so Libro officially started in April 2009. I cannot believe I’ve been going ten years, though – that astounds me.

Originally, after a lot of experience working on various types of texts through my working life (see About Me for more information), I was approached by one of my colleagues at the university library where I worked to see if I could edit their student’s Master’s dissertation. I said yes, did it, and instigated a string of lovely referrals. For the rest of that year, I mainly worked on dissertations for people whose English wasn’t their first language (I still do that today, although I work on more PhDs now).

I was lucky enough to have a fairly routine job and flexitime, so with a lot of time management and hard work, no holidays and an understanding then-boyfriend (now-husband), I worked part time editing and full time in the library through 2010. Then in 2011 I made the decision to go part time at the day job, after making sure I was replacing my wages with my self-employed income. I came off the Certificate of Low Earnings (which lets people who don’t earn much from their self-employment not pay national insurance: something I only did because I was paying NI through my PAYE in the job). Later that year I dropped a second day of the day job and in November 2011 I resigned, starting full-time self-employment in January 2012 (at which point I got jury service for the first two weeks of January!).

It’s been a lovely part of my working life and one I hope never to leave. I have a reasonable amount of flexibility, working alone at home (but with lots of friends a Facebook messenger message or “meet me at the cafe!” request away). My earnings went up and then stabilised, I had a good year last year and I’m aiming to work a bit less this year to retain my flexibility. I’m grateful to my lovely clients, some of whom have been with me almost from the very beginning, and I now edit, proofread, localise and transcribe, so I have a lovely variety of work, from helping academics record the voices of their interviewees to sorting out philosophers’ words and making sure British people understand American companies. Here’s to the next ten years!

And to celebrate, I added two chunks to my Kiva portfolio and, with the repayments I had sitting in my account, made three loans to three entrepreneurial women around the globe:

  • loan Rosa
    Honiara, Solomon Islands

    A loan helps to buy bags of rice, biscuits, soft drinks, and noodles for her canteen (general store) business.

    $25.00

  • loan Jivtiben
    Kutch, India

    A loan helps to purchase kurtas, sarees, leggings, etc., to expand her clothing business.

    $25.00

  • loan Mwanaisha
    Makumbusho-Dar es salaam, Tanzania

    A loan helps to add stock of braids, weaves, earrings, necklaces, hair food, hair pegs, and hair treatments.

    $25.00

 
8 Comments

Posted by on April 18, 2019 in Business, Celebration

 

Tags: , ,

Small business chat update – Tammy Ditmore

Small Business Chat Saturday is back! After having a bit of a break from blogging, I’ve been in touch with all my interviewees from last year and I’ll be continuing to feature a good number of them. There’s a chance to join the roster at the bottom of this post. So we welcome back  Tammy Ditmore, owner of the perfectly named eDITMORE Editorial Services! We first met Tammy in June 2012, and had update chats in June 2013, August 2014, September 2015, November 2016 and January 2018. Editors are always interesting for me to talk to, of course, and I felt for Tammy, who was worried about work coming in regularly at the time, with her resolution for the next year being, “If things stay slow in the new year, I will be making some concentrated efforts to contact past clients, and some new publishers, businesses, etc. I’m not panicking (yet) because I have some good ideas about which bushes to start shaking. In fact, I’m not too sad about having a little extra time to catch my breath during the holiday season–I just don’t want this slower work pace to last for too long!” Unfortunately, Tammy had no idea of the terribly stressful events that were just around the corner. Read her story now – and thank you, Tammy, for sharing this difficult time with us.

Hello again, Tammy. Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Yes, mostly. When we touched base last year, I was coming off a down year and was not quite sure what to expect. But 2018 turned around with some long-term projects coming from unexpected places.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I continue to work for a wide mix of clients, but last year I worked with two clients on some large projects, which filled my schedule in unexpected ways. That enabled me to reduce my workload significantly for a couple of months in the summer when I was able to live in Florence, Italy, where my husband was teaching with his university program. I did very little work during that time so that I could enjoy our amazing experience. Unfortunately, the big projects that carried me through last year will be winding down in the next few weeks — I have work scheduled for the next couple of months, but it I will need to start lining up others beyond that.

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

The main lessons I learned this year were ones I never wanted to learn about dealing with trauma and stress and how much that can affect my ability to focus, which is an absolute essential in the work that I do. In November, a gunman walked into a nightclub a few miles from my house and murdered twelve people, including a police officer and a young woman who was a student at the university where my husband teaches and our 21-year-old son goes to school. Less than 24 hours later, wildfires ripped through both sides of our community; my husband and I were evacuated from our house at 3 a.m., and our son spent a long day and night helping to run an emergency shelter at the university as fires burned to the edge of campus on every side. The fires and the weather conditions that make them so dangerous and unpredictable lasted for about five days in our area. Although our neighborhood and the university ultimately were spared from major damage, three people died and hundreds in our community lost their homes. At almost the same time, scores of people died and thousands lost homes in a wildfire a few hundred miles north of us.

It’s difficult to describe just how much impact these events had on our lives and our community. My son knew two of the people who died in the shooting and several others who were in the club that night, and everyone we know has been grieving the senseless loss of so many beautiful lives from our community. We also know people who lost homes and see evidence every day of the damage and destruction caused by the fires. Although I and my family were physically safe, I was not able to do any real work for several weeks. I simply could not concentrate enough to edit or write for any length of time. Fortunately, my clients were completely understanding — coincidentally, the two clients I had to delay the longest were authors writing about traumatic events in their lives. One of those writers actually provided me some very practical tips that helped me deal with my own stress.

Eventually, I was able to focus and work again, but it took me much longer than I had expected, and I am still trying to catch up. Ultimately, I learned that I cannot force concentration in times of stress and that berating myself for my lack of productivity only makes things worse. I had to give time and attention to myself, my family, and my immediate community before I could find any attention span for work. I know these kinds of events do not affect everyone the same way, so I can’t compare myself to how someone else reacts–I simply have to respect my own feelings and start from there.

Any more hints and tips for people?

I continue to find that word-of-mouth and repeat business are my best ways to find clients. A lot of people actually find out about me from a friend or colleague. Many of the people who recommend me have never actually worked with me, but they know what I do and are ready to recommend me when they find out someone needs an editor. So my tip is to make sure that everyone you know is aware of what you do and is aware that you need clients.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

I hope I’ll be in about the same spot as I am now: working steadily with a variety of clients and projects. My husband will have a yearlong sabbatical from his university job starting in August, and my goal is to be able to do some traveling with him while continuing to work.

First of all I want to say how honoured I was that Tammy chose to share her story with us. When you’re self-employed, it’s easy to think you live in a little bubble, and it can be so traumatic when events outside our office but close at hand intrude (I’ve been very concerned about Brexit because I’m not sure how it will affect how I work with my EU clients, with very little information available as I write this, for example). The other points Tammy makes are equally pertinent: all of my work pretty well comes from word of mouth and recommendations, as well as regular clients, and it’s worth reminding people of what they do. I wish Tammy an uneventful year of solid work and a lovely sabbatical.

Tammy’s website is at www.editmore.com and you can of course contact her by email. She’s based in California.

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. 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 19, 2019 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

Tags: ,

What happens to your website statistics when you drop the ball with your blogging?

When you have a professional website with a blog attached, what happens to your reader stats if you stop blogging? I did not do this experiment solely for this blog, but I thought it would be interesting to have a look at what happened when I had a blogging hiatus.

I haven’t updated this blog for six months. How did that happen? I’ll explain below. What am I going to do about it? Start blogging again, I hope …

Why did I stop writing blog posts?

Back in the summer, I made the decision to stop working at weekends. Working in this case included both paid editing, proofreading, localisation and transcription work and the additional marketing tasks like blogging, writing articles, responding to blog comments, etc. I did have to make the odd exception when work levels were high or I’d taken time off during the week (or had a holiday) but by and large I’ve stuck to this and am happier, less tired and more balanced as a result. OK, I took up a new hobby as an Endurance (cross-country and road relays) running official and lately a Track and Field official, which has involved weekend training courses and time standing around in muddy fields or boiling hot infields, but that’s a healthy, outdoors hobby.

However, the anticipated drop in paid hours didn’t happen. In fact, in 2018 I have brought in around 12% more revenue than in each of the two previous years, on average, I’ve worked the same number of hours per week, and I’ve in fact had fewer low-paid-hours weeks this year. So what had to give? Blogging.

This was exacerbated by the fact that, while my blog still obviously displays my knowledge of Word, language, business, etc., and channels people to buy my business books (still going just as strong as ever), I have been fortunate enough to have sustained my customer base through a lovely set of regular clients and through their recommendations to others. Added to this, over the nine years I’ve been self-employed, I’ve moved from a model of working with lots and lots of small jobs, editing Master’s thesis for overseas students, etc., to longer-term projects working with regular translator clients and writers / ghost-writers, so work has been more predictable, and I haven’t really needed my blog to funnel customers to me like I once did.

So it slipped. Should I just let it go?

What happens when you stop writing new posts on your blog?

Because December is always a low-traffic month anyway, I’m sharing stats from July 2016 through to the end of October 2018. Although there are peaks and troughs always, with March always being busy with those students and their Master’s dissertations searching how to put bibliographies in alphabetical order, you can see the drop-off in the latter few months of the cycle. That’s when I stopped blogging.

It’s pretty well-known that Google and other search engines like regularly updated content to index. That’s why I and others tell people to keep blogging and/or updating their website regularly. So I knew this, and the stats show it.

What am I going to do with my blog? Should I give up blogging?

Although I don’t feel at the moment that I NEED to write and publish lots of blog posts, I’m going to get back into it. How, I will share below. There are a couple of reasons WHY:

  • Although I have sufficient clients now, especially with lots of them being in Europe and the threat of Brexit looming, I can’t assume that will continue to be the case (small independent sole traders like me have had no advice from the government or HMRC). So it’s good to keep marketing yourself even when you’re busy. I am fortunate enough to have lots of lovely colleagues I can pass work to that I can’t take on at the moment.
  • I enjoy helping people. I get a buzz when I receive a comment saying I sorted out someone’s problem, or one of my Small Business Chats interviewees thanks me for a referral they received from my site. I do my job because I like helping people, and the blog allows me to help more of them while I’m doing other things!
  • I loved finding out what my Small Business Chat interviewees were up to and how they were getting on, and learning from their journeys. I don’t want to lose those connections.

What’s the plan?

I’m going to use my time wisely. Over the festive break, I’m going to add the flesh to the bones of a load of ideas I’ve put in my blog post drafts and get them all ready to schedule through the year (the plan there is to see how many I can get written and then distribute them evenly through the next year, keeping an eye on what’s about to publish as I go through the year in case there’s some awful clash between a light-hearted Troublesome Pair and a horrible news item).

I’m going to get in touch with my January 2018 Small Business Chat people as normal for their updates, but I’m also going to contact all the June-December 2017 ones I never got back to, see if they want to continue to take part and slot them in until I can spread them evenly through the year again. I will point them here and hope they appreciate my honesty and openness and continue to take part.

Over to you …

Have you paused your blog (especially a professional one) and started up again? What did you learn or change? Are you one of my abandoned Small Business Chat folk? Would you like me to continue featuring you again or has that series run its course? Have you enjoyed reading those posts? Have you, well, missed me?

 
21 Comments

Posted by on December 27, 2018 in Blogging, Business, Marketing, Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Small business chat update – Kathy Ennis

Small business chat update – Kathy Ennis

Welcome to an update with Kathy Ennis, who changed her brand name to LittlePiggy last year. Kathy joined this interview series in May 2012 and we updated her story in July 2013, August 2014 and February 2016. and most recently in April 2017. At that point, this was Kathy’s plan for the year: I may be moving home in the next 12-months so, although I am planning, things may be disrupted because of that. However, my plan is to increase the amount of work with Enterprise Agencies, or other organisations that offer training and mentoring support for small and micro businesses.” Let’s see what happened next …

Hello again, Kathy! So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Well, I haven’t moved home (yet!) but it’s still in the pipeline – probably later this year.

I did achieve my goal of working with more Enterprise Agencies and those that offer mentoring support and training to small and micro businesses. I now have contracts with three organisations. Along with the 1-2-1 clients I work with this creates a really great mix and I get to meet some truly inspirational business people.

I am also really fortunate to be part of the Facebook / Enterprise Nation #SheMeansBusiness initiative. I spent 2017, along with 7 others certified by Facebook, delivering training and inspirational activities to more than 12,000 women in the UK (our target was 10,000, so we smashed it!). In 2018 the scheme is getting bigger and better with more trainers being taken on and a higher target number.

I did get my book published – The Big Social Media Marketing Organiser (https://littlepiggy.ltd/books/) – and I am really proud of it. I think it’s not only a terrific resource for all small and micro businesses, I believe it sums me up and demonstrates my approach to things.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Gosh, there have been changes, but they have crept up on me I think. The big change I made was more than a year ago – changing the name of the company – and I think that has had the most effect. My new brand and brand message has had a really significant impact on how I am working with clients and the type of clients I am working with.

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

I’ve learned a helluva lot about Facebook! Being part of the #SheMeansBusiness team meant I had to take on a lot of knowledge about Facebook (and Instagram) really quickly.

I can honestly say that this year has been very steady. Nothing has cropped up that I was unprepared for. So there’s nothing I wish I had known a year ago.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Can I say buy my book? Ha, ha, ha!!

Seriously, if this year has taught me anything it is the need for businesses (especially small and micro businesses) to plan. I have lost count of the number of clients and trainees I have worked with who are having difficulties building their business successfully. When we dive deeper into what’s happening, it’s because things are being done piecemeal. There’s no broad understanding of what is actually happening in the business, let alone what they want to happen in the business. No wonder they are struggling.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

Well, I hope to be living beside the sea by that time.

As far as the business is concerned, I just want things to tick along the way they are at the moment as it’s all so lovely at the moment.

It’s great to see Kathy going from strength to strength and really helping people with their planning, which is something a lot of people lack. I had to really plan my business in the early stages to see where I had to get to go full-time and I’ve always kept an eye on things and kept marketing even when I’ve been busy – it is worth it. Well done Kathy, and on the book, too!

Website: https://littlepiggy.ltd/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LittlePiggyUK/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kathyennis

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathyennis

Email: kathy@littlepiggy.ltd

You can find the website for Kathy’s book here, and order it from Amazon.

Phone: 07815951585

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. 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 21, 2018 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

Tags: ,

Small business chat update – Paul Alborough / Professor Elemental

Small business chat update – Paul Alborough / Professor Elemental

Welcome to an update with chap hop star, writer and one of the most entertaining people I know,  Paul Alborough, or as you will know him better, Professor Elemental. When I met him back in the 1990s, he was rapping like a pro but hadn’t quite achieved worldwide fame. Flash forward and here he is with comics, a tea brand, a novel and more. I was lucky enough to persuade him to join this series in February 2013, catching up in February 2014 and February 2015, March 2016 and March 2017, and here he is again – I definitely recommend popping back through those links and reading his earlier interviews, too! When I asked the Prof where he wanted to be by now back in March last year, he replied ” I have a really big project that I want to complete this year. I want to use a new album as a springboard into making a creative hub where people can share ideas and tips (much as you are doing now I guess). Plus I have a plan to use some of that to fund charities. It’s very ambitious, but achievable with the help of friends and collaborators. We’ll see how I managed it next year.” So, is that what he’s been getting up to? Read on to find out!

Hello again, Prof! So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Nope. Not in the slightest. I mean, in terms of the overall picture, it’s going really well, but the specific and ambitious project I had in mind last year hasn’t really taken off. On the plus side, I’ve got so many smaller projects that there should be more than enough to compensate. At the moment there are four books, three albums, two videos, Patreon, a lengthy tour and some new merch – that should do nicely. Small is beautiful, as they say and lots of smaller manageable projects are a lot easier for me to deal with than one large one I think. Stops me getting bored, too.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I think I’ve grown more at ease with my status, as well as the idea of maintaining and diversifying without the business necessarily growing larger. I’ve got a decent office space of my own now which allows for much more writing and actual creativity (rather than just admin) and I’ve worked out how many shows I need to do to maintain finances. I’ve also spent more time working on individual themes for shows – working on my best stand-up material rather than creating a whole new show for each event. That process has been a lot of fun. I’m still collaborating like crazy, travelling the world and spending a lot of time working my way through emails and chatting rubbish on social media though – it’s all very nice.

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

Hmm. Not much. I mean, I’ve had lots of adventures, but they are quite specific cautionary tales and their mishaps are usually only applicable to me. I have definitely learned to worry less and follow a more stoic approach to business. It might be a dangerous thing for a creative person to say, but I am pretty content.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Here are five tips vital tips for anyone considering making their living rapping as a Victorian steampunk explorer:

  • The people of Cambodia who come out to see large-scale pop concerts do not want to be introduced to chap hop, particularly after the main act has already been on. In fact, if you try it they will run away screaming and crying. Literally. It’s a really bad idea.
  • If you’re going to let your children introduce a band of pirates in front of a thousand people, it helps to learn the band’s name before going out, or you run the risk of scarring the children for life as they stand there staring into the abyss without anything to say.
  • It is possible to wear silver leggings that cross the boundary from ‘fun’ to ‘obscene’.
  • Never, ever go on to the after-party. And particularly a party that goes on after the after party.
  • Corporate gigs are usually a bad idea. But corporate gigs where the business writes your script are the worst idea of all.

I always love your hints and tips! And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

Is it possible to maintain a small business without expanding and ruining what made it good or shrinking so it becomes untenable? Can a creative business remain contented without losing its spark? Why didn’t I spend the previous 5 years taking the train to shows instead of the car? Find out the answers to these questions and probably less in exactly 365 days’ time …

As usual with the Prof, a fab mix of important learning points and laughs – great stuff! I think it is possible to maintain your small business but it’s hard. I was chatting to someone the other day who’d reached the point with her food business where it had taken over her life and she didn’t know where to go to next, so she stopped! It’s hard after those first few years to decide what to do – and although Paul and I have VERY different businesses and business models, they’re both based around ourselves and the services we provide, so it’s hard to know how to move forward sometimes (I’ve done it by diversifying but also specialising, Paul’s done the same and collaborated, and my good editing friend, Laura Ripper, has recently started a collaboration project, so that’s a way you can go in our business, too). I can’t wait to read the next update from Professor Elemental, whatever he gets up to in this coming year!

Here’s Paul’s Professor Elemental Patreon page, and do pop and have a look at his website, www.professorelemental.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter, of course.

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. 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. 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 24, 2018 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

Tags: ,

Small business chat update – Matt Rose

Small business chat update – Matt Rose

Welcome again to Matt Rose of Prestige Quoting Limited. I first interviewed Matt in April 2016, when he’d just set up his business. We then chatted in April 2017 – and you’ll see why I’ve got his interview in a bit early this year when you read on! Matt did really well in his first year, and when I asked him how he intended to progress the company, he replied ” I’d hope that employee number one would be on board and the business will have seen some growth, both in terms of clients and revenue.” Let’s see how he’s getting on!

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

Yes and No. There have been lots of changes in my personal life over the last 12 months. What with marriage, moving house and a baby on the way in April, it’s been a (fun?) challenge managing all of those life events as well as the business. Some people have said I’m crazy that I’ve done arguably the 3 most stressful things in life, all within 12 months. I’d be inclined to agree!

The business has seen steady growth (10-15%), but I haven’t got employee number one as yet.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

It’s still just me in the business and business is continuing to steadily grow.

In particular, my recurring revenue has grown 25% (some of my software follows a subscription model, so having a (95%) guaranteed level of income by just keeping clients happy is useful)

The need for what I provide to small businesses (quotation systems) is still relevant and I’m getting plenty of enquiries.

I’m offering new services to existing clients. I have a ‘QuoteWerks MOT’, where I’ll go onsite for half a day to review a client’s usage of the system and recommend tweaks and efficiency savings. This gets me in front of the client once more, I provide some value and get paid.

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

One good client is better than two bad ones. I’m now in a fortunate position to, a certain extent, be able to pick and choose my clients. When clients are evaluating me and my services, I’m also evaluating them.

Will they be a good fit for me? Are they willing to pay a fair price? Are their expectations realistic? Would working with them be profitable? Will I enjoy working with them?

These are all questions I, subconsciously(?), now ask myself.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Don’t be afraid to ‘sack’ a client. I’ve had to choose to no longer work with a few clients over the past 12 months. This wasn’t an easy decision as they helped me get to where I am today, but either their expectations no longer correlated with what I could offer or they were unwilling to (nearer to) my new rates.

In these cases, I was able to refer them to another company to aid their transition.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

Hopefully maintaining steady state. With my first baby on the way, I’m not quite sure what to expect and how this will impact my business. With my Wife able to take a year in maternity leave and supportive grandparents, I’m hoping the business won’t be affected too much. A lot of my clients have been able to give advice and, due to my good relationship with them, will be very understanding if I can’t reply in the timeframes they’re accustomed to. I think a key is to set expectations from the outset.

It’s such an exciting time for Matt and I’m sure we all wish him the best of luck in this upcoming year! I agree with his comments about picking clients carefully, and it’s great that he has people he can refer them on to – this is something I do, and I’m much more comfortable saying “I can’t look after this project but you might want to try this person, who will be a better fit for you”.

Matt Rose’s website is at www.prestigequoting.com and you can email him or phone him on 07490 096232

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. 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 17, 2018 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

Tags: ,

Small business update – Yvonne Donald

Let’s say a big hello to Yvonne Donald from delicious cake company, Kake and Cupkakery. Yvonne’s first interview was in September 2012, and we had catch-ups in in October 2013 and then November 2014, January 2016 and January 2017. I’m so pleased to see Yvonne still going strong: this is where she wanted to be by now, “After all this time I finally realise my main priority is to see Kake and Cupkakery grow and flourish whether that’s online, through a store front or both. So for the year ahead I want this to be my main focus as I see Kake and Cupkakery as a brand which I would like to become stronger within the local community and Birmingham as a whole. I want to have more of a presence amongst the wedding market as I still have a little concept that I haven’t given my full attention to. And maybe look into having an app, as we all have mobiles and I think an app alongside my website might be a good idea to save customers even more time and have ease of access for ordering.. So if any fellow small techy businesses reading this can help with this, I would love to hear from you: I’m happy to give you cake …” Lots of lovely aims there, so let’s see how she’s getting on!

Hello, Yvonne, it’s lovely to chat with you again. Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
Hello! I think I can safely say it’s been a good year. Am I where I thought I would be? It’s a big yes and a little no. I’m still operating from home in my registered kitchen but a big yes regarding the business overall, as last year I wanted the business to grow and flourish and I feel that it has due to the volume of orders I am receiving.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Well I didn’t look into the app, I basically didn’t have the time to, as I built a new website. I’ve taken a another tiny step into the wedding market as I’m getting commissions for a few more wedding cakes every year, it’s not my primary market like some cake makers but I feel I’m an all-rounder so I’m keeping one foot in the wedding camp.

The beginning of 2017 I bought a biz planner that made me take a good look at my biz from the inside out and one area which I wanted to get right was my branding, I know I have focused on this before with little tweaks here and there but this planner really made me think, as I really wanted a strong look to make me stand out in what is a very competitive market. Rebranding became an even clearer goal as in march 2017 I was chosen as Theo Paphitis (previous dragon on Dragons’ Den) #SBS (small business Sunday) winner on twitter. I had entered this many years ago and basically you tweet Theo your business and his fave 6 he retweets on a Monday. I decided to enter for the first time in years and won (wooo hooo). I got to go to a #SBS event with other winners who come from many other industries, and even got to meet him [see a photo of Yyonne and Theo on her Instagram).

My #SBS win and rebrand I feel has really helped boost my business, The decision to invest and get the job done properly to have a clear brand identity was the best decision ever, I now have a new logo, brand colours, specific fonts, brand patterns and a new website. Both of these (#SBS/rebrand) have helped propel me on to the coveted page 1 on Google for my specific search terms so I’m getting noticed on the web, resulting in increased orders.

I also took the plunge and entered the most intimidating cake competition ever, which is Cake International: people come from all over the world to enter. There are a number of categories and I entered the wedding cake category and pushed myself by using royal icing which is a medium not used that often but is creeping back in vogue. I didn’t place, but I haven’t let that deter me as the competition was fierce and standards extremely high plus it would help if I read the competition schedule properly. (Roll on November).

I also now have help with my admin regarding the everyday recording of figures etc.. I do use an accountant but my sister is kindly helping me and freeing up more of my operating time for baking, planning etc .… so she’s not exactly my first employee but kind of is.

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

This year I have learnt me time and work life balance are so very important. This area has improved a lot for me. I still continue to schedule in down time and actually managed to fit in a holiday and went alone, which was a huge personal goal of mine and I would definitely recommend. But also being much stricter with myself and allocating specific days and times for the business to operate as well as a (no compromise) day off has made me feel much calmer less frantic and more in control and more organised.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Challenge yourself often as that’s how we grow, being judged by your peers can be tough but entering competitions etc.. within your industry or outside of your industry can be very exciting and rewarding.

Don’t underestimate you’re “ME” time. If you’re not functioning 100%, your business will suffer and we are our businesses.

Your business is more than just a name or a logo: going through the design process really helped me clearly identify who my market is, so every now and then take time to do a little audit on who you are selling to, is it a good fit, are your prices right, are your products right?

Studying your social media analytics can be a great way to instantly see who is connecting with you as well who your social media is reaching.

Don’t be scared of change as it can work wonders.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

Bigger and better that hopefully I can seriously make a move to work full-time in the business. This business is self-evolving – I plan but things never go to plan so I set myself small goals.

Within the next year ideally I want or rather need a bigger space to work, so I think for this year I either need to think of extending or looking for a separate kitchen/workshop space, but I will continue to seek out opportunities and increase sales even more.

I’m so pleased Yvonne’s been able to take some me time this year and even a holiday – a big step for a small business owner! Sometimes running your own business does take over a bit, and that’s fine, as long as it’s only sometimes. It’s so important to have space and time for you. As usual, I can’t wait to find out what Yvonne gets up to in the next year!

Twitter @Cupkakery
Phone: 07837 876604
 
 

Tags: ,