Firstly I must confess to having committed the cardinal sin of blogging - inconsistency! I have let my posts slip in the last couple of weeks for which there is no excuse, so I apologise to my readers for not having followed my own advice and prepared some posts in advance (blushes).
This week (16-22 May) is Learning at Work week which aims to highlight the benefits and importance of learning and development. A year ago this week, I would have been intensely involved in delivering Learning at Work week activities in the corporate environment I called my professional home. How times change…
I’m now five months into running my own business which has accelerated my own learning and development tenfold. I’ve learnt more since the turn of the year than I did in the last 12 months in my previous role.
The theme of this year’s Learning at Work week is Connect and that’s something I’ve been doing a great deal of as a small business owner. Here are a few ways I’ve been connecting and some unusual things I’ve learnt over the last five months:
1. The first tool I discovered for connecting with others was LinkedIn. I’d had no need to use the business to business networking platform up to now, but was conscious it was a step I needed to take to connect with former colleagues and agencies I’ve collaborated with, as well as people I might do business with in the future. I am quite strategic with my connections and yes, I have received leads and generated work through LinkedIn.
2. In February I began attending local and regional Networking events and boy have I experienced a few different ones! I was so surprised at just how many different events there are out there - from BNI and 4N to BforB, Women in Business lunches and a whole host of independents. When I lost count of how many I’d attended I decided it was time to select a handful to commit to on a regular basis.
3. The Networking events have opened my eyes to just how much talent is accessible in small businesses - there’s an entire new world out there! I was privileged to attend a Women in Digital event back in March organised by the Manchester Growth Hub. The keynote speaker, Hazel Carter-Showell, Director of business psychology firm CarterCorson offered some insight into the role that small businesses play in the economy, “We’re not small businesses, we’re normal businesses”. A fact which is becoming more and more apparent to me every day.
I’ve met some incredibly talented people with amazing ideas - from a lady passionate about starting her own online dating agency, to nutritionists, hypnotherapists, business coaches and a whole host of recruitment consultants. I’ve made some great friends and developed a support network that I can call upon for advice at any time.
The one question I always ask people when I meet them is ‘What one piece of advice would you offer a start-up?’. Their responses have been invaluable to me in developing my business and help keep me motivated during the quieter times. Maybe I’ll share some of them with you in a later blog.
4. Having never really been a ‘numbers’ person, I’ve entered the world of book-keeping and actually quite enjoy learning how cashflow works. I’ve appointed my very first accountant and the geek in me quite likes to scan her expense receipts and file them accordingly!
5. Although fundamental to running a business, I’ve learnt that quoting for jobs is really difficult (and I know I’m not alone in thinking that). I love my job and I love supporting other business owners and helping them to grow their businesses. But if I could afford to do my job for free then I probably would!
I’m sure this is not the end of my learning curve and there will be many more experiences to come for me. But if you are looking for a Learning at Work activity to try this week, I can vouch for the fact that there’s no better way to learn at work than by setting up your own business.