Today, 11th January, marks a year to the date since I set up my communications business. I can’t believe how the time has flown since Comma Sense began supporting businesses with copywriting, blogging, website content and social media activity. I’m so proud of everything I’ve achieved over the last 12 months, so thought I’d review the year and share some of my achievements with a numerical blog post.
For fellow entrepreneurs just setting out on your venture, you’ll find some lessons learned and tips to make a success of your own first year in business.
215 - Number of LinkedIn connections gained
Considering I had never needed to use LinkedIn before January 2016, and I tend to connect only with people I’ve met in person, this is a pretty significant figure. I’ve met the majority of my contacts through regular networking and the rest are former colleagues. In fact, this is the channel that brought me my first paid piece of work.
22 - Number of blogs published
I started in February with a mission to write two posts a month for my website - tick! The aim is to share my communications and content marketing knowledge and expertise with a broader audience, to help other businesses grow.
66 - Number of business networking events attended
This averages out at 1 or 2 a week. August was a slow month for networking as most groups take a break for the holidays, but my workload definitely did not take a break! I show my face at four groups on a regular basis, which has helped to build strong and trusting relationships.
54 - Number of presentations listened to
12 - Number of referrals and introductions made
Whilst I’ve been growing my business, introductions really haven’t been top priority for me. I believe you should only refer to a business if you know and trust them yourself. Saying that, I’ve managed to connect a dozen people to others who could help them develop their skills or their business.
140 - Number of business cards stashed in the cupboard (which I really must do something with)
On the plus side, this figure represents the amount of interesting people I’ve met over the course of the year. One the flip side, I hate to be disorganised, so a stash of business cards waiting to be scanned and catalogued is essentially eating away at me. I think this is a job for a rainy weekend.
15 - Number of learning opportunities taken
The last 12 months have been a constant learning curve. I would encourage any new business owner to seek out as many learning opportunities as you can. Many of them are free and easily accessible on the web. I’ve attended conferences, seminars and webinars to further my knowledge and skills on certain subjects.
Number of hours spent agonising over quotes - too many to mention
I’m not ashamed to admit, this was definitely one of my weaknesses at first. A combination of experience (sometimes trial and error), and becoming more confident about my rates and what I’m worth, means I’m now much better at this. My advice for anyone struggling like I did is to decide on a rate and stick to it. Don’t vary your rate because you think the company doesn’t have the budget. If they really need your services, they will find the money to pay for them.
3 - Number of jobs declined
Don’t be afraid to pass up work that you don’t have the skills or knowledge to do. Clients will respect you more for it, and, if you refer them to someone who can help, they’re more likely to come back to you again in the future. Some of the work I’ve passed on includes website development, PR and paid social media advertising.
3 - Number of presentations I’ve given
In 2016 I focused my content on one of my passions - blogging. I’ve loved spreading the word about how to structure, style, and start writing a business blog to spread your message far and wide. I actually find it easier to present now than ever before - because the only pressure I feel is from myself.
2 - Number of unpaid jobs I’ve done
One was for a non-profit organisation just setting up that needed some help with copywriting. I was more than happy to help these two lovely ladies who did give me some free PR in return for my endeavours. The other was a client who decided to ignore my invoice. We’ve all been there - and learnt from it.
50 - Number of paid jobs I’ve completed
From mid-summer, I had this in mind as a target I’d like to achieve by the end of the year. I was so pleased when I hit it just before Christmas! 50% of these have been repeat customers too. It’s always a thrill when clients like what you do and come back for more.
2 - Best pieces of advice I’ve been given
When I meet more experienced business owners and business coaches, I always make a point of asking them for their advice - and most are very willing to offer it!
Question everything anyone tells you is fact. In other words, decide for yourself what's right for you and your business.
If something’s not working, change it.
So here’s to the end of an awesome year! Are there any numbers or lessons that stand out from your first year in business?