December 2019 I was finishing the year on a high, my client base had grown, my business was gaining momentum and I was feeling hopeful for 2020. I had great ambitions for 2020, as many of my fellow entrepreneurs also had. I remember having many conversations with my clients and colleagues about their optimism and ambitions for 2020. There was a special ring to 2020, wasn’t there?
I had just discovered Forest Bathing, a mindfulness in nature experience that has so many therapeutic and health benefits. I trained with 10 others to become a forest Bathing Guide and we were going to bring this to West Cork with a launch in March 2020.
I had developed a collaboration with 5 gorgeous businesswomen to build the Powerhouse Collective, whose mission is to help women strive and thrive in their personal and professional life. We launched this collaboration on International Women’s Day in March 2020.
I was a member of the committee of Network Ireland West Cork and super excited to be part of a thriving branch.
I had a radio slot with our local West cork FM celebrating women in business and was developing a podcast.
Work was busy for me in January and February 2020; I was working from 2 locations, Clonakilty and Cork City. I was renting space in these locations and driving to and from these locations daily. At times, it was so busy that I was dropping my children to school, racing up to Cork City for clients, back to collect my children at 3pm and there were some evenings when I would race up to Cork or any other location to meet clients.
But my back was tired from all the driving, the fuel costs were high and I was spending a lot on rental. My children were being affected by a distracted mommy and I was wondering how all this would pay off.
On the 12th March 2020, the schools were closed due to Covid and I scrabbled to keep myself and my clients calm in the chaos. And then came the lockdown. My business came to a screeching halt.
I Had No Idea What I Was Going To Do…
I was in complete shock for the first month if I am, to be honest. I had no idea what I was going to do. I knew that I wanted to keep going but I wasn’t sure in which direction. So I decided to take one step at a time and do what I could to keep myself sane. I started working on jobs that I never had time to do. I edited more podcasts, I wrote blogs. I kept in contact with my clients and colleagues and I started to embrace zoom! Pre-Covid, I was unsure of zoom, I didn’t enjoy the time lags and the frozen picture and I really didn’t like looking at myself! But as they say “necessity is the mother of invention” so I sucked it up and started getting used to reaching out to people online.
I organised an online coffee catch-up on the 24th of March which was open to anybody who wanted to hop on. 7 women showed up and provided support to each other through the chaos of Covid-19. We all agreed that we have another the following week. Almost 1 year later, the group is strong with over 20 members of the Lighthearted Women, named by the members of this online group. It has organically evolved into women in the business success group.
I received support from the Local Enterprise Office and developed my website. Through this I really dug deep and identified who is the client that I best serve, how can I help them and how can I reach them. I learned so much about myself and my business during those 4 months of developing my website. I came to understand what I wanted for me, for my life, and my business. My business is about balance and having the confidence to strive for what you want. And this is what I knew I wanted to – balance for my family and work.
I work completely online now, I no longer need an office space to meet my clients and I can reach more people through the internet now. I chose my hours, I no longer need to account for driving time, I can support my clients from the safety and comfort of my home. I know that going forward that this is the business model that I want to adopt.
My 3 Key Learnings From This Past Year Have Been.
- Build-in time for reflection in your business. This was essential for me to develop a business model that is balanced and sustainable for me. This can mean getting support from a coach or mentor, it could mean doing a relevant course for your business, it can also mean giving yourself time to reflect on your current business plan, reviewing your progress over the past month, year, the life of your business.
- Be open to embracing change. There is always something new to learn, if we don’t open our minds to new ideas we can become stagnant. If this year has taught us anything, it has taught us to be flexible and adapt.
- Ask for help. I can honestly say that the first month of Lockdown was the most difficult for me and my business. I am so lucky to have an amazing network of supportive friends and colleagues who kept me moving in the right direction. They were my accountability buddies all the way through, motivating me, pulling, and sometimes dragging me through my goals! Without them and the help of the Local Enterprise Office in the form of Mentoring and the Trading Online Voucher, I would be nowhere near my goal.
Business is messy, there is no such thing as a straight line and there are always many ways to achieve your goals. I can honestly say that I am grateful for the about-turn that I had to take, it has freed me up to live the life that I had always planned when I embarked on this business. I now can choose balance for my family and my clients.