Well, we’ve made it to the end of our first year- excited, delighted and busier than perhaps we’ve ever been and looking forward with anticipation to another great year ahead, so today we’re looking back on the journey so far…
So, how did we come to this? Well we’ve spent in excess of fifty years (!!) in the workforce in a number of roles which encompassed Marketing, Sales, Management, Customer Service, Training, PR and more. And as is the case with so many people in the past few years, redundancy came knocking on both of our doors albeit it a few years apart.
Without boring you with the details, neither of us found a new calling – often the case when you leave a job or company you’ve enjoyed. And at the end of 2010 we decided that even with the dreaded R word spouting doom and gloom wherever we looked, we’d go about setting up on our own.
We did the Start Your Own Business Courses and we still have access to a fantastic Mentor from the Dublin City Enterprise Board – all assistance that is available to everybody starting out, it’s just a case that you need to ask for help. During this time we worked on our website, created some blogs for when we went live and started talking to potential customers – after all, who wants to sit there on day one waiting for the phone to ring?
We started with a soft launch in April and a couple of customers to work with to get us started and within two weeks we had an email which to be honest we thought was a wind up given the brand in question, but no it was from an international company looking to speak to us about what seemed a fantastic opportunity. We were excited and yet at the same time not quite as excited as we’d expected, this was bigger than we’d hoped for but we realised we’d quite likely end up as little more than employees. Then, two weeks after we launched we made the decision that it wasn’t for us – half fearing that we’d regret it, we didn’t and we don’t, it would have taken us off plan immediately and our journey would have been dramatically different.
The clients we’ve worked with throughout our first year have been fantastic and hail from a wide range of industries, each with their own strengths which we’ve been lucky enough to work with them on. The projects we’ve taken on vary as we made a conscious decision that when it comes to clients we wouldn’t offer a one size fits all marketing programme, all of our clients are unique and each have their own requirements. As we offer a range of options, they can avail of services that suit them at a particular time, some of these evolving over the months to suit.
Outside of clients we’ve made some wonderful friends – yes, friends! Social Media is one of the tools of our trade and in this past year despite managing accounts for high profile names and local businesses before we launched, this year Social Media enabled us to meet up with some fantastic people – in particular through twitter.
For those who are regulars to our blog, our facebook page or who perhaps follow us on twitter, you’ll no doubt have seen quite a number of references to #SMEcommunity – a wonderful group of people who we chat to on a daily basis, have enjoyed meet-ups offline with and actually help each other with challenges in the day to day. For an online community we’ve all made real friends many of whom we now know offline, can pick up the phone for a chat to and on occasion some of us can even work together. And it’s great to see that even in challenging times we frequently have virtual celebrations albeit with virtual cake (or macarons!) for the latest success story from within this brilliant community of people.
During the year we’ve both adapted to the world of the self-employed where nothing is a given, you need to step out of your comfort zone, ask for assistance, work on raising your profile and get used to having a business card with you at all times. You don’t switch off at 5pm and you’re frequently online over the weekends but you don’t resent your work life eating into your home life as it’s yours, you’re in control and although client deadlines exist you have flexibility that enables you take in the Christmas play at school without a days holiday leave – you simply make up the hours that night.
We didn’t get everything right, nobody does – particularly at start-up stage. But we don’t dwell on these, a positive mindset is essential when you’re creating your future. And isn’t it good to learn from experience as if you’ve got it 100% right first time you’re not going to learn are you?
As we move into year two our diaries are packed, we’ve got projects for new and existing clients coming up and we’re expanding our services yet again. It’s been both the best and busiest year of our working lives, we work longer hours than we ever used to and booking a holiday is a little more challenging that simply getting there first on the office calendar, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.