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9 August 2015

Working for myself: 1 Year On

In July it was a year since I reduced my day job hours to focus on my business and boy what a year it's been!

So much has happened that I don't actually know where to start in writing this post and I have actually been putting it off. But, I want to write it in order to see what it is that I've achieved, what is still on the to-do list and mainly, what I've learnt.  So, here's a little look at the year.


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Achievements

 -- Increased my sales. Woohoo!

-- Become an official blogger for Simple Stylish Knitting. I'm so chuffed to be a part of this great blogging team! It's expanded my blogging experience and connected me with some great people!

-- Reduced the amount of work I do for free. This was hard to do but I have bills to pay, so I had to be realistic!

-- Introduced new designs: Stripey jewellery rangeTartan and autumn accessoriesAutumnal Gift SetClassic HandkerchiefLove Birds Handkerchief;  Love Heart NecklaceMessage in a bottle necklaceNew range of hanky colours; Silk handkerchiefs and matching cufflinks; Bow Ties;
A custom design and Floral Cufflinks.



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Never ending to-do list

I have a load more things that I want to achieve from new designs and products to more external blogging work to improving my product photos and packaging to attending more creative and blogging events and on and on....

With the self-enforced pressure of these objectives, it has made me really stressed out. So, I decided to change that head on by schedulilng these objectives into my diary.  So now, each month, I take one objective and work towards achieving it. By approaching it that way, I've actually got a lot more ticked off the list. Whereas before I was running around trying to achieve too many objectives in a short amount of time. The result of that was poorly achieved objectives. By organising my time I'm working much more efficiently.


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Lessons learnt


Objectives Set realistic objectives but stick to them and don't get distracted. "Oh as I have access to the internet, I'll just check this"...don't do it! One hour can easily go by and that could have been spent ticking a another goal off the list. Save that browsing for later, when you stop at 5pm! See below.

Working hours / Working from home can be very stressful, pressurising and distracting. I've learnt, almost, to stick to a 9-5 day as much as possible and have a lunch break. It's oh so easy to work through lunch and into the evening but that results in exhaustion and even illness. It's much more productive to stop, have the evening doing something not work related, getting a good sleep and waking up fresh and energetic the next day.

Flexibility / On that point, I realised your working hours at home can be set how you want them. In other words, if you're more of an early bird, get up early to work or start later if you're more productive in the evening. I work better in the morning, so I get up early and start work about 7.30am. It works for me and well, working for yourself should have some benefits!

Stand firm and don't take any nonsense / Not everyone quiet understands when you say you work from home and run your own craft/blogging business. I've had people diminish what I do by implying it's a little hobby. People have actually said how nice it must be to sit around, knit and drink tea! Ha, if only! I'm running a business single handed! That means I'm every one of those teams: design, finance, HR, IT, marketing, production, communications...and it's hard work!


I've also found some people who seem to think that because you're at home working, you're constantly available to stop what you're doing and help them out because they're at work (in an office and not at home), they haven't got time to pick stuff up, water plants, organise social events, stay in for a parcel etc etc and because you're at home, you do! I've actually experienced this so much, it has really surprised me. So, I've had to stand firm on the "could you just..." requests and very politely explain that my work day at home is like any work day in an office. If I were to treat it like a holiday there would be no business as growth would immediately halt.

Network / Get involved on social media. There are so many wonderful networks of bloggers, designers, makers and more out there. Connecting with people really helps become part of a community, which is so supportive, friendly and inspiring. I've met some wonderful people in the online world of blogs, Twitter and Instagram. I don't know where I'd be without them all! Also, it definitely leads to further opportunities, which is great when you're running your own business!

Praise / Be kind on yourself. I'm terrible for thinking I've not done enough. So, I'm trying hard to set realistic objectives and tick them off, so that I can see what I've achieved and give myself a pat on the back.




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Writing this post has really helped clarify where I'm up to with my business and where I would like it to be next year. I've probably missed a few points and lessons learnt out but then I could probably write a book on it and well, there are plenty of small business books out there already! 


I encourage anyone to write down what you've achieved in the last year, 6 months, or month. Not just small business owners, anyone and everyone! You'll surprise yourself at how much positive stuff you've done and it'll give you a wonderful boost!

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