‘Enterprisingly Me’ is a monthly feature where you can follow my entrepreneurial adventures. Names have been changed to protect the innocent but everything you read really happened.
I hope my story inspires you to take your first steps, or if you already have, then it lets you know you’re not on your own. Starting and running a successful business isn’t about being perfect. It’s about loving what you’re doing, learning from your mistakes and keeping the faith!
There’s something about enterprise
Oh no, the dreaded pre redundancy letter! Every year at this time we all receive our letters notifying us of possible redundancies linked to the fact that the training business I am employed in depends on external funding contracted annually. Every year I make the decision to either look for another job or start my own business. Is it ever the right time? My mother often asks me why I am so good at my job but so useless at running my private life – thanks mum… Maybe this is one of the reasons that I doubt my ability to start my own business. Or maybe its because I have:
- Recently separated from my husband
- Two children to support
- Just taken on a mortgage
- No spare cash
- Got used to having a guaranteed pay check at the end of each month
- A great appetite ( more of that later ) for Prosecco, clothes and especially shoes…
On the other hand I am told that I’m good at my job as a Training Manager, which I love. I’ve also recently been asked to go to work for someone else in the same role with a slightly higher salary, which is tempting but with the same annual funding challenges.
I’m doing some work for a local hotel and the owner, who I have got to know really well, asked me why I wasn’t working for myself – well isn’t it obvious given the list above? I shared some of this with him – obviously not the Prosecco and clothing challenges, and as I am on a constant unsuccessful diet I’m thinking the other appetite I have is obvious! His response? This was one of the best times to do it as I had so many things driving me to do well. He shared his experiences of starting his business and it started to make me think seriously about whether it was something I could actually do.
Maybe it was fate but the same day I visited one of our suppliers who owns and runs a very small printing company and I asked how she had started her business. She shared her experiences of raising money and said that she treats her bank just like any other supplier and never had any problems raising the finance she needed to start and grow her small business. I have realised that many people running small businesses love to talk about what made them do it and I’m always fascinated by the different things that make people step out on their own. So, maybe I’m worrying about nothing. I know I’ll need some help in the early days from my bank or some other funder but I had been thinking that no one would want to lend me what I would need to get started.
Things going for me:
- I’m healthy – well, physically but not so much financially! However I don’t have any credit problems and no debt apart from my mortgage (Oh, and the essential House of Fraser account which I must treat with much more care).
- I am educated – I left school with 5 GCE’s (OK one of them was a resit and they were in subjects that you may say showed my ‘creative’ side) but since leaving school and after 10 years in the pub and restaurant trade I’ve been back to college and now have the right qualifications for my job. I can deliver and manage training, pull a mean pint and make a great spag bol (always handy if times get hard).
- I’m a smiler – you know one of those people who smiles through the very best and worst life can throw at you? It’s a blessing and a curse. Sometimes my sense of humour makes me think and say inappropriate things at inappropriate times. Some people call this a wicked sense of humour but I have realised it doesn’t work for everyone. I have through time recognised this and have used my positivity to gain friends and influence people. You won’t believe the things people have told me in shops, bars, on the train and in queues. I could write a book (or another blog). The good news is that in all the books I’m now reading on starting a business this seems like a good approach to finding and keeping customers.
- I’m nosey – I’m a people watcher (I have actually been accused of being a starer so obviously as with previous trait I have to be careful with this one) I love finding out about people and things and I think I’m very intuitive in terms of picking up on the things people aren’t saying. I think this comes with job in both the pub and also in my work as a trainer. As a 24-year old running a pub for the first time you quickly learn that how to deal with people is key to the success of a business.
- I’m actually quite good with money – although sometimes a bit frivolous I think I understand how to manage my money. I realise it will be very different if I don’t have a regular amount coming in every month, though so this is probably an area I will need help with if I decide to take the plunge.
So what do you think – should I do it?