I had been a full-time mum for 669 days when I made the decision that I needed more mental stimulation than reciting nursery rhymes and singing the alphabet song on demand (plus/minus 30 times a day). The probability of finding a job that was fulfilling and conveniently interspersed around my role as a mother was slim to none, so I started to consider how I might create a means of income from my passions and skills that was both rewarding and flexible.
How naive was I! It wasn’t long before I realized that starting your own business involves an incredible amount of commitment, hard work, perseverance, dedication and literally all the blood, sweat & tears you can muster, not to mention the sleep deprivation!
Still I have managed to stick to my own rules
(or at the very least been aware when I am breaking them!)
- My kids come first and so what I do has to fit around them – I have dropped this ball a number of times as I am indeed human, but the intention is clear and remains in place and I have learned a big lesson about what is important in my life.
- I will always follow my heart and my passions, I will only do what I love doing. This becomes a little easier to apply when your business gets to a certain size and you can indeed start outsourcing all the bits you find totally “blah” and focus on the fun bits and your areas of strength!
1. My daughter comes first so it has to fit around her (sorry to spoil the sorry but I failed on this lots of times! But it’s okay she still loves me and I learnt a big lesson about what’s important in my life).
2. I must have passion for it & love doing it. Luckily this is easy if you choose the most obvious path, and the bits you don’t love (because there will be some) – outsource!
My love of events
After 5 years of writing plans in my “Business Ideas” book (which I still treasure today) I came up with the concept of The Beauty Event. This was one of those “little” ideas that exploded into something really quite big all in a relatively short space of time. Before I knew it I was hosting events all over Bristol, including The Pamper Area at “Women Outside The Box Festival” in the autumn of 2012 & 2013.
It was absolutely amazing – but I was frequently breaking rule #1 and seemed to be constantly justifying it to myself. Anyone who has worked in event management will understand the singular responsibility. It is a tough, demanding job - a complete rollercoaster ride – one you cannot stay on forever!
May 2014 marked the last event for The Beauty Event, ironically it was The Merrymaking Festival! After some real soul searching it was clear I needed to put my family first, so it was back to the book of “Business Ideas” – what could I possibly do next?
Retrospectively it was obvious, but at the time I had not even recognised the interest that was being shown in my social media skills – thankfully whilst running events with efficiency and intensity, my next business was sowing its first seeds all over the place!
With my mind made up it was time for me to focus my notorious 100% into making it happen. Only 7 days after The Beauty Event was put into retirement, SHC Social Media was born. Three clients were signed up in the first week, apparently both event exhibitors and therapists had been watching my successful marketing efforts on Facebook and wanted the same for their businesses – reach more people, get more bookings!
In its three year existence SHC Social Media supported over 200 business owners identify and navigate of their social media needs. New clients were constantly being drawn to the authenticity of my social media presence and by my genuine, personal service approach. I was making the difference that was so important to me, helping others build business success through providing effective and practical solutions, developing their online confidence and providing consistent, unwavering support.
What’s more I was building my network online and realised that doing so put me in the perfect position to offer more than “just social media” – I could help people make the connections and find the collaborations they needed to propel their business to the next level considerably quicker than they could alone – online and offline. No need for the book of “Business Ideas” this time.
OOOPS HERE WE GO AGAIN!
The Christmas of 2016, unprompted by Prosecco, I started to reflect on the notion of face-to-face networking in Bristol. I had done my fair share and had a lingering suspicion that there was more to it than long table lunches, sixty-second pitches and a diary full of follow-up ‘coffee chats’. It was time to branch out and in usual style, I just did it. I booked a table for ten people at Goldbrick House and set about finding nine other people to join me! And so, Come Network With Me was born!
Since then, CNWM has evolved into offering networking experiences which are as diverse as the female business owners who choose to attend them. Its success is a result of constant innovation and a succession of different event types that provide value, supported by both an online Facebook Community and a Membership Tribe.
THAT BRINGS US TO NOW!
With two businesses up, running and growing exponentially things started to get a little tricky from a logistical standpoint. It was time to consolidate. It was time for me to step into the spotlight and put my business, which fills me with such pride, to my name, of which I am equally proud!
The next chapter begins – sarahcook.co.uk – inspiring passion, creating engagement - watch this space!
As far as my rules are concerned, I do admit that rule #1 is still being broken occasionally, but only because of rule #2! I love what I do and I am incredibly grateful for my business success past, present and future. It just goes to show that if you love what you do, are driven by passion and constantly move forward with decisive, strategic action – anything is possible!