Enterprisingly Me x

‘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!

I just wish I didn’t see everything as an opportunity!

Following a meeting with my mentor at the economic development department of our local council I became aware of a larger suite of offices that are being vacated just around the corner from where we have recently moved to. They are very swish and would give us our own reception area along with a lovely office space for the staff, my own office (how important???) and a small meeting room. My justification, not that I need an excuse, is that there’s not enough room where we are now for our new member of staff, Arlette. It seems a perfect opportunity to expand without incurring too much additional expense and we’ve been offered a very attractive rate as its owned by our existing landlord. What can we lose?

You’d think I would learn from taking on too much at once but visualising our name above the door, the new décor and fancy furniture, the need to buy is just too big of a temptation to pass up.

I returned from my mentor meeting with so much enthusiasm that it was difficult for Marie and Clare to voice any concerns. I realise that my ability to ‘sell’ an idea with so much optimism is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that this enthusiasm allows people to be carried along with me and cancels out any negative feelings they might have about the said idea. However it also throws caution to the wind and takes risks that no self-respecting sensible individual would take. It’s so easy for this to happen to me – I can be out with friends or on holiday when the wildest ideas present themselves to me and I can see nothing that can go wrong. Like the time I forgot my glasses when travelling on the train to a meeting and decided that it would be a good idea to have a reading glasses vending machine in stations – after a couple of drinks with family this turned into a vending machine that dispensed all manner of things – some not for public viewing nor consumption. Saying that, I hear the Japanese are vending mad!!

Anyway I forgot to tell you about my meeting with my mentor – she is lovely and full of apologies about being incommunicado for so long. It seems that she has had a lot of personal problems that she has shared with me – sorry I can’t share as I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone. I was a bit surprised at the level of detail she went into – so much so that my hours appointment seemed to fly by but I’ve made another appointment to see her next week. She gave me a booklet as to what to expect from our meetings which I promised to read before we meet up again next week.

Things are moving quickly and what with delivering training, promoting our new project, securing even more business and taking bookings for our training room,  business is really looking good. It’s quite time consuming making sure that Arlette, our new member of staff, is getting to grips with what we want her to do but it’s early days. I realise that the difference between working for a large corporate organisation and working for a tiny company like ours must be quite daunting for her – its daunting for us too!! But early signs are good and Arlette shares our values which is the important thing. She brings a wealth of experience from her national role which I’m sure will help us to grow the business. Saying that we seem to be doing that ourselves and the more business comes through the door the more our confidence grows.

Moving round the corner into the bigger premises is the next step for us all and I’m sure it won’t surprise you to know that I’ve now spoken to the landlord and he has agreed to let us view the offices once they are vacated at the end of the month. How exciting to know we will be in our new suite of offices very shortly – I’ve already started looking at furniture for our new reception area and given Marie and Claire all of the carpet and paint swatches for them to choose colours. I’m hoping they don’t go too ‘off piste’ but think it’s really important that they feel a valuable part of the team moving forward and choosing colours for our new office allows them to feel involved. After all, it’s them that will have to look at it every day as they welcome our visitors and continue to give Arlette and I the support we need to bring in even more business.

I’ve had another meeting with my mentor and was a little disappointed that she has continued to talk about herself and didn’t allow a lot of time for me to talk to her about my moving plans. I would have really appreciated talking things through with her but ended up sharing stories of our personal lives. Lovely as it is to try and work out why I’m so obsessed with growing my business and the effect this is having on my personal life, it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I agreed to speak to a business mentor. I have read the booklet that she gave me on my first meeting with her. It says I should expect my business mentor to:

  • Provide an outside perspective on both me and my business
  • Listen, confidentially, to the issues that are worrying me about my business
  • Help by sharing experiences of both failures and successes
  • Give friendly, unbiased support and guidance
  • Provide honest and constructive feedback
  • Be a sounding board for ideas
  • Facilitate decision making by suggesting alternatives based on personal experience
  • Supply contacts and networks to further personal and business development
  • Inspire me to realise my potential
  • Give ongoing support and development.

I’m just not sure that this is how our relationship is working and not sure how to broach it with her. Any ideas?

Me x