My new business is starting to grow!! Help!!
When I started my own business two and a half years ago I distinctly remember saying to everyone who would listen that I had no aspirations to become the next Richard Branson.
I simply wanted to work for myself, by myself - and have enough work just to keep me in the manner to which I had become accustomed when I was working for a large corporation. I went to all the free seminars I could find to teach me how to set up my business and get it off the ground.
On that very steep learning curve I learnt about so many things – how important it was to have a business plan, a five year plan, a marketing plan and plans for how to make the plans (or so it felt) and so on and so forth. I have to admit to feeling a little out of my depth as I seemed not to fit in with everyone else. I didn’t want to grow my business year on year – I wanted to just ensure that I had enough work each month to get me by. I felt very guilty for feeling that way as everyone around me seemed to have these long term growth goals for their business. I really didn’t feel like a ‘proper’ businesswoman because I didn’t have the same ambitions as everyone else.
However, proper businesswoman or not, I knew that I had to do something to get to the point where I had a comfortable number of clients who gave me just enough work to keep me going - and, given the work that I do, I knew that not all forms of marketing would be suitable for such a sensitive subject. That’s when I began networking in earnest.
I tried all sorts of different groups and would advise everyone to do the same. Not all networking groups are going to suit you and because the point of networking is to build relationships with other people, then you have to make sure you are comfortable with the groups you go to. I eventually whittled it down to a few groups where I enjoyed the company of the other members, where I felt both me and my business would get support.
Now, half way through my third year, all the networking is definitely paying off and my business is growing – at an alarming pace. What about the ‘not wanting to be the next Richard Branson’ I hear you say. Well, that is a very good point – I am now torn between the two aspirations. Part of me can see a future where the business grows beyond just me in my wee home office now – having said that the other part still hankers after just being me. To put it bluntly, I am at a cross roads and I have absolutely no idea which road to take and that’s where networking again, is coming in very handy.
I have now been going to my regular groups for some time and I have built up some very good relationships – I might even go so far as to say friends – over the last wee while. Being able to talk about what is going on at the moment with these people always helps. Whether it be a new idea about how to manage my workload or simply an acknowledgement that ‘you look tired hen’ – I feel supported by the group and a little less overwhelmed every time I attend a meeting.
So if you are thinking of starting up your own business or have started but are wondering how to get clients in – give networking a try. It is very daunting at the start but remember – each one of the members of the group was you once i.e. a newbie who was extremely uncomfortable in a room full of strangers.
But I for one can vouch that those ‘strangers’ that you first met can turn out to be the very people that support you, encourage you and help your business to grow. I can’t recommend being a member of a networking group highly enough.