It’s a new year, and it’s happy anniversary to me. As I write this I am sitting in a café in Wimborne, Dorset at something called a Business Jelly. This is where my business started really.
In January 2016, while just embarking on self-employment, I knew that I would have to get out and network – to find out more about running a business, and to make new contacts. I had read something in a local magazine about the new Jelly being started up by Christchurch and East Dorset Council’s Enterprise team. So, not only is today my own 1st anniversary, but it is also the Wimborne Jelly’s 1st anniversary.
At that first meeting I not only found out about possible grants and routes to potential business courses, but I also met some lovely people; there were a core of us who attended that first gathering, who are still turning up each week when time allows. It was through this that I found two clients and a potential one; acquired my computer supplier and fixer; discovered a baker who can make gluten-free bread; and met up with someone else in the same industry who understands the joys and frustrations of writing and editing. We’re a small group, but we support each other with advice, laughter and commiserations when things don’t go according to plan. It is not networking as such but, we are on this self-employment journey together. Since then, others have joined us and brought new skills; bookkeeping, voiceovers, design, videos, telephone engineering, wedding planning – we’ve even had a singer.
The Jelly is a concept thought up by two Americans who were eating jelly beans at the time – hence the rather bizarre name. There are now lots of Jellys or Jellies around the globe. The premise is for the self-employed or homeworkers to get together, bring their work with them and have a chance to interact with others. It could be quite lonely working from home on your own all the time, so this offers the chance to have a chat and swap notes about running your business over a coffee.
As well as the Jelly, I have been attending other networking opportunities that seem to be a good way to attract business. You do have to get up early, though, as many are 7am breakfast meetings.
I started 2016 with zero clients. I now have 12; a good half of them give me regular work, bless them. I have also collaborated with others on projects where someone else does the design work, social media and marketing and I have supplied the words. It’s a perfect arrangement and I hope more will come out of this in the future.
So what’s in store for 2017? In this new year, my aims are to double the turnover of my business, attend more social media training and, to finally publish my children’s book that has been 15 years in the writing.
My grateful thanks to those who have been sharing this journey with me. If you are reading this and have bothered to stay to the end of this diatribe, thank you, and I wish you a happy and successful 2017!