It's been just over a year since I left my secure, well paid, respectable Buying Manager job at Burberry to start my own business, which is now what you know to be BYRCOLLECTIVE.
I was on a maternity cover contract at Burberry, covering a Buying Manager role for a £380million channel in their business. It was only meant to be a 9 month gig, but it had already been extended once for a further 6, and following this I had been presented with the opportunity to stay and do another year, but in my gut I knew staying there was just not the right thing to do.
As a matter of fact I'd known about 3, maybe even 4 years before then that Buying was no longer what I wanted to pursue as a career, but I had no idea what else I could do, didn't know how to transfer my skills, and had no idea how to start a business, so I just stuck it out.
It paid well, I was working for amazing brands, I was very good at it and I actually did really enjoy it, but I was absolutely not fulfilled by it. I hated the structure of large organizations, I hated the office politics, I hated the inflexibility of a 9-5 office job and I hated commuting.
So I let the nagging urge I'd been having takeover and left to do my own thing!
In an ideal world I had wanted to go travelling and then come back and start a business, but you know this little thing called a pandemic happened and the universe decided to force me straight in to business, which in hindsight was the best thing for me.
The first lockdown gave me time to reflect on what I wanted to do, build up the connections I needed and put things in place to start freelancing. I very quickly got my first paying clients, all through the powers of LinkedIn and I was loving my new found self employed life.
As the year went on I was working with more and more small business owners and noticed a pattern in the questions that I was asked, the problems they were having and the needs they had that led me to a realization that actually there was so much more opportunity to support these small businesses outside of me just freelancing for them, I could also educate people and mentor them to help them set up, develop and grow their businesses.
So this is exactly what I did, I took my learns, identified the opportunities and pivoted my business model, probably 3 or 4 times in the past year to get it to where it is today, which is a small, but growing business where I offer mentoring & consultancy services, plus run a membership all catered towards supporting small retail business owners and entrepreneurs set up and level up their businesses.
And I LOVE IT!
But it has't come without it's challenges...
So what have I learnt about running my own business in the past year?
Consistency is marketing is SO IMPORTANT - I learnt this the hard way! In the middle of last year I got so busy with my freelance stuff, that I just didn't have time to market my services. I didn't really realize this until some of my jobs were ending and I was left with very little work and basically having to start building up a client database again from scratch. Not only did this impact me financially, but also mentally leading me to question if I should go back to full time employment. Luckily things picked back up pretty quickly and I have savings in the bank to see me through any financial dips, but it was still a bit of a daunting position to be in.
I have to capitalize on opportunities as and when they come up - I saw an opportunity based on learning and patterns in my business to add in a mentoring service & membership platform, I chose to capitalize on this and this has completely changed my business plan and goals for the better and allowed me to focus on growing a much more scale-able business model.
I can't do everything by myself - Building a business is hard, and you can only do so much by yourself before it all gets pretty overwhelming. I've made a conscious decision to seek help, which to me is a bit of a foreign concept in itself as I've always been super independent and tbh I'm a bit of a control freak, but I know that the only way my business is going to grow to where I want it to be is by bringing in people that can help me get it there, so I am currently in the process of building myself a team of people who can support me on various areas within my business.
Working ON my business is just as important that working IN it! - Having a long term strategy and goals to work towards is so crucial for growth. And working on how I will get there is just as important as doing my every day work in mine and other peoples business.
I undervalued myself - Pricing my services is something I've struggled with since day one. And I don't think it's until pretty recently that I started to realize how much I undervalued what I was doing. I am working through some financial blockers that I have to make sure I price my services fairly going forward. I still want my services to be affordable and accessible to start ups & entrepreneurs as I know budget are tight when first starting out, but I also know how much value I can bring to a business and with the nature of a service based business there does have to be a fair cost associated with that.
Having boundaries is necessary! - I am very much someone who wants to do as much as they possibly can to help as many people as I can whilst doing the best possible job, but in doing all of this I was finding myself overworking, burning out and actually not really enjoying some of what I was doing. So I had to start setting myself and my clients boundaries and this has been a game changer.
These are just a few of my learns over the past year and I am sure I still have a lot more to learn, but I am really happy with where my business is currently at and the direction it is going.
The biggest bit of advice I would give to anyone that wants to start their own thing is GO FOR IT, you will not regret it.