Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Startup group

1st year – Happy Birthday “I Assist Your Biz”

Happy Birthday06th April 2012. Good Friday.

Begin of the new tax year. In 2012 these two things fell onto the same date.
And this day also saw the start of “I Assist Your Biz” – the official start I have to add. I was preparing the launch for 8 months prior to that date, but then the preparation overtook itself and suddenly there were no more time to prepare, because I had a client.
What better date to choose, I wonder?
Beginning of the tax year made sense to me, as it means that I don’t have to do crazy calculations when it comes to my accounting. A field I didn’t have any experience at the time.
Good Friday – the highest holiday of the Protestant Church – gave me this heightened feeling of anything is possible.
I remember that the day before, the day I’ve finally signed off the blasted job centre, was a beautiful sunny one. After I signed off I was so excited, happy, exhilarated, that I sang loudly in the streets, in mid day, not caring for whoever passed me. 🙂 A wonderful feeling.
And although the next 12 months were often tough and full of learning and hardships and many routines have been implemented in my life, I still have kept this general feeling of happiness.
I absolutely love what I am doing, I love all the learning opportunities, I love the way how things develop and how I have developed, on a career level as well as on a personal one.

So, what did I learn over the last 12 months?

Days are not 9-5 anymore.

I used to have hard times to get up in the mornings, I was still tired most of the days when entering the office of my job and I don’t know how many times I’ve overslept or missed the bus or whatever else.
Whenever I had time off I’ve slept til 11am in the morning and still felt tired.
I was very concerned how this will work out when I have the “freedom” of laying in whenever I like.
It turns out: I often wake up around 6-7am and before anything else I already have a look on mails and messages. By 8am I am sitting at my computer and I always find something to do, even if there is no current project.
Most of the days I am still at my computer around 11pm.
I work longer (and harder) than I’ve ever been working in a corporate environment, although I always thought I was working hard then as well.

Granted, I take more “tea breaks” but because there are no co-workers, no-one to chat too, I am much quicker back at work.
Occasionally I take a nap in the afternoon. Or a quick walk around the block. But I do think this rather enhances my energy levels and is good for my clients and my business.

Money is king

Long gone are the days of a regular paycheck and I have to admit, I do miss them.
But then again: Whenever I send out an invoice and receive the payments, I feel very satisfied and happy about it. I feel very grateful too, as it does mean that I was the chosen one to be trusted with the task and the client was satisfied enough to not complain about the prices and actually PAY me.
I love this little confidence boost.
It also means, nothing is for granted anymore and I do have to work extra-hard and efficient, to give my clients the best service possible as well as to make a living from it.
More than once cash was extra-ordinarily tight. I still have to learn a lot, most importantly how to create a steady client-stream. But I am learning. And I am getting better at it.
Another aspect of money is obviously this blasted bookkeeping/accounting thing.
I am very glad, that there are tools out there, but sooner or later I will add someone to my team who is capable of doing all that complicated stuff of analysing the spreadsheets etc. But I find it crucial to know what I have incoming and outgoing, so again it was a good year of getting to know the basics and to learn how these things work.

Talking & Listening

Yes yes, I am certainly one who knows to chat away. Even in a 2nd language. But I’ve found it quite difficult to really relay what my business is doing. Possibly in less than 60 seconds. Thankfully I had help with this. I am still amazed that for some reasons I’ve won the Evolve Award as part of the Amplify Award by Antenna Nottingham.
This award entailed a start-up course and it was a great place to learn this initial sales / elevator pitch.
Also, I’ve attended numerous networking events, which gave me ample opportunity to try different angles of my pitch.
The other thing I have learned in this year (and I still keep learning this) is to actively listen!
Chatting away might be my natural state but if I want (more) business or provide my clients with the best service possible I have to listen to what they are doing, what their concerns are, what they wish for. I had quite a learning curve on this matter and I sincerely hope that I will improve this new skill even further.

Networking & Help

I am amazed and truly grateful for all the advice I’ve received over the last year. Most of my social life currently consists of networking events nowadays and I am happy to say, that on the way I made valuable friends too.
I found that many more senior business people are quite generous with giving tips, advice, sharing their experience and so on. I absolutely appreciate their input into my budding business.
But not only the more senior business owners were helpful. I also want to especially thank for the input I’ve received from other start-ups, for the questions and answers, which made me think about my own routines, for the opportunities to rant as well as to share my excitement over certain things. I want to mention here the members of the Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire Start-Up Group (DANgroup), a group where we are able to share our anxieties and visions. Thank you peeps.

Skills & Learning

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh geez! What a year it was. And I have a feeling that the next year will not be much easier when it comes to learning.
First of all I have to thank the Nottingham Business Venture (NBV) for all their help around my start-up period. They’ve provided the facilities for the Business Link workshops I’ve attended prior to my launch as well as the mentoring whilst I’ve taken part on the New Enterprise Allowance scheme and also helped me with a grant and still provide me with a mentor for further developing my business.
I’ve already mentioned the course I’ve gained from wining the Evolve Award at Antenna Nottingham.
It was also a good idea to do my NVQ2 in Business and Administration last summer, when I still had enough time.
Right now I am doing a course especially for VAs, and this course is in the accreditation process to become recognised as NVQ3-course.
But aside from the courses I have learned so much “little” things right within my business. I didn’t know I have so many skills but also that I might have overestimated a few of them. I have learned that I cannot talk about “outsourcing is great” when I don’t outsource/delegate myself – which led to adding a proofreader, a translator and another VA to my business. In doing so I’ve diversified my services and opened up new opportunities.

Final thoughts / Visions

Even though the first year was tough I wouldn’t want to miss any moment of it.
A few months back I was contemplating on “leap of faiths” and I must say, although I did many brave things in my life, this must have been the bravest so far. And the most exciting, satisfying one as well.

When I look into the future then I hope for a more smoothly running business with a higher cash flow (of course), I hope to add more other VAs and language specialists to my business.

And there is already a big new opportunity, project, challenge on the horizon:
I am currently working on a Social Media workshop for engineering/manufacturing corporations.

If you have any questions about this, please contact me.
For now I am looking out of the window, enjoying the blue sky and I hope for a grand new year in business.

Maybe soon “I Assist Your Biz”?

Your’s sincerely,
Andrea Busch



2 responses to 1st year – Happy Birthday “I Assist Your Biz”

  1. Congratulations ! on reaching your one year milestone. Many new businesses never make it this far so… I think a congratulatory drink is in order :-). Being self-employed has so many challenges but it makes being successful that much sweeter. Here’s to a successful year 2 🙂

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