In April, DO celebrated four years of business.
Admittedly it passed us by without any real celebration, which has prompted me to reflect on the last 4 years and the achievements we have made.
A blog I did about the first 12 months in business was well received and I think anyone who has taken the plunge of quitting a well paid, secure and reliable full time position to go it on your own could relate. This blog covers a few key topics based on my experience building a business.
Work-life Balance and Being a Mum
I am not one to focus on gender in the workplace, as it has not been relevant to how I have approached my career most of the time but since becoming a mother this has certainly impacted my approach to work and my time management.
I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, sister in law, aunty, and friend to wonderful people. This is the most important part of my life and my priority. Our daughters are 11 months and 4 years old. My eldest was 4 months old when I started the business with Martin, and I had to return to the office when my youngest was only 11 weeks old. Luckily my husband was able to take time off to look after the girls, but leaving Violet to return to work when she was so young, was one of the hardest things I have had to do. However I take pride in the fact our daughters have a front seat view of me working and building a business that I am incredibly passionate about.
Although demanding in many ways, owning my own business has been one of the greatest things I have done for my family life. It does give flexibility in a lot of respects, and although I have no magic bullet solution on how to ‘balance’ everything, there are a few simple rules I follow:
- I do not prescribe to a traditional 9-5 work day. I concentrate my time, and when working ensure it is always spent effectively and efficiently. Even if it an intense hour of power.
- I keep a detailed to do list and calendar and I follow it.
- When I am in the office, I am completely present to staff and clients.
- When I am at home with my children and family, they have my attention.
- I am generous with my time to everyone in my life - personally and professionally. A lot of people have supported me along the way and giving time back, be it for a chat, idea discussion is one of the best way to maintain strong relationships.
- I have an exceptional support network - personally and professionally.
Running your own business can be hard. I have been lucky to have done it with Australia’s best business partner - Martin Cox (not exaggerating). Facing challenges, making decisions, setting plans and achieving goals as an individual owner would have been incredibly difficult, so having a partner you can trust who is genuinely on the same page as you makes an enormous difference. Business partnerships are not for everyone, and for good reason - they can be messy, and hard to sustain over a long period but if they work can make running a business more productive and at times more fun. Mandatories of a good partnership are:
- Honesty and integrity - no further explanation required.
- Complimentary skill sets - don’t partner with someone who is like you and has the same skills, find someone who can do things you cannot.
- Common goals - if you are not on the same page with what you are trying to achieve, you won’t achieve much and pull in different directions.
- Friendship - Many people say you don’t have to like who you work with. I disagree, liking who you spend hours around is essential, and it helps professional performance.
I am not sure what we anticipated when we started the business at our respective kitchen tables 4 years ago. But with a team of 6, a great office, excellent equipment and a suite of over 50 clients we have worked with - the growth and achievement has been positive.
We still have further to go, but some points on managing and continuing growth you might find helpful:
- Reinvest into the business whenever you can.
- Improve your resource capability.
- Grow your staff - their skills and morale.
- Equip yourself with the best you can afford.
- Look for continual improvement - how can I make that even better for the client?
The last 4 years have been fun, rewarding and hard work. I love owning my own business, from the second it begun, I knew it was what I was meant to do. I and DO look forward to continuing to grow and work with all the wonderful people and businesses we are lucky enough to call our clients.