I have not written a blog before; it is something everyone seems to be doing, so I thought…. why not give it a go.
There is no reason I can’t do one apart from lack of confidence, but for goodness sake, I have a lot to talk about. Having spent the last 16 years raising my children and helping run a business, I have come to the conclusion that I can do this; Before kids and self-employment, I was suited and booted, liaising with councils, dept. of employment, housing associations and serving on Boards and committees in London.
Time to stop thinking of myself as not very knowledgeable and give myself some credit; Everyone has something to contribute in life, it is down to self-approval and self-worth.
There are so many ideas in my head, trying to separate them is the problem, what a mish mash.
The one that keeps popping up is “roller coaster”. As an SME everything seems to be like a roller-coaster. For me, the passion, excitement, thrill, fear of the unknown, what is around the next corner or in the next dip, compares to my experience of setting up in business, but with the roller coaster you have the comfort of knowing you are securely strapped in, which is why I wanted the #SMEcommunity to be there. It is good to know that if you ever need that support or guidance there are people willing to listen and know what you are going through.
There is a real thrill to setting up in business; The thrill of seeing your name on a business card, the thrill of identifying your brand, the thrill of creating your logo and seeing it in print, the thrill of achieving your 1st sale, the thrill of continued sales, the thrill when a journalist thinks your business is worthy of a write up and the thrill of customer satisfaction and brand recognition. The thrills just keep on coming through new ideas and continually upgrading your product. Of course, it is not all thrills, but an appreciation of how much you have achieved and how far you have come, whether you are just starting out or picking yourself up again is immense and such a thrill. I realise I have used thrill quiet a lot but I needed too, the thrill is amazing, exciting, and new.
There is always a fear to going it alone, there are always people who will be negative and try to burst the bubble or don’t share your passion or see why you are taking that route. Everyone is different and unique and that’s what makes the world so interesting. We all have to learn to adapt and appreciate everyone for who they are, after all we are all on a journey and are at different stages in the game, how boring would it be if we were all the same. Don’t be afraid to break away from the norm. A quote that comes to mind is “you can always tell a person by the way they treat someone who is of no use to them or different”.
I love the roller coaster, and the thought of becoming hardened to people’s passions and drive, is something that scares me; It is so easy to point and criticise to make people feel inferior or that their product is not good enough, where in fact it is good enough, it’s just that one person can’t see it. My favourite quote for this is “no one has the right to make you feel inferior without your consent”.
A good friend or mentor will share your excitement and help structure it, that will bring you to the realization and decision as to whether your product is good enough; the trick is to find that right person. The path you choose to take will always throw up “what if’s” and “I’m not sure am I doing the right thing”, this is natural and you reassure yourself through communication or community. Being part of an SME support network I find very inspiring and reassuring.
Never doubt yourself; If you have the belief and passion for what you are doing, then DO IT!. At the end of the day I would rather look back and be happy that I tried rather that wondering “what if?”. If you have a passion and a dream, follow it and give it 100%. Let any negativity and obstacles be used to make you a stronger person with even more determination.
I would have to say, my biggest wobble on the roller coaster experience so far has been not knowing how your product will be perceived, will your R&D pay off, will I make a living, and how the hell do I get to the next level, trying to get funding, and dealing with government bodies.
These agencies don’t mean to cause a negative effect, but it is so easy to talk the talk and build up an SME’s expectations of what help they may get, but follow through seems to be lacking, along with a desire to commit enough time to really understand what you are about and what you need.
I am happy to jump through a certain amount of hoops, but I am not training for the circus.
For the time being, my opinion is that if you want something, pull out all the stops and go for it. Hard work and determination is what is needed; like dieting, there is no easy or quick answer other than hard work and commitment, and yes, the funding route works fantastic for some, but my understanding so far is if you have money you can get funding. There are so many great people out there either through Twitter via #SMEcommunity, LinkedIn, Small Business Can to name but a few, and these people are usually more than happy to share their experience and advice, all you need to do is ask.
Asking can be hard, it is not easy to say I need help, but I just think if somebody asked me for help and I could help, then I would. I am sure it is the same the other way round,
This is one of the reasons #SMEcommunity came about on twitter; I wanted to be surrounded with people who knew what it was like to be in Business in Ireland, who were happy to help, advise, and share the community spirit. Moving back to Ireland was not as easy as I thought; I expected to slot right in, but that was not the case, everything was different and I was different. From chatting to Kehlan Kirwin of Focus me magazine (@FocuSMEmagazine) and Olwen Dawe of Irish Business Intelligence (@IrishBizIntel) I could see they were SME focused and positive go getters.
This is where I felt comfortable. Within days, the community was growing and so many positive amazing chatty helpful SME’s were on board, we seem to give each other the kick start and extra drive with strength in numbers. This is what I am talking about; a community set up and coming together out of common interest and the willingness to succeed, not someone stuck in an office thinking what would look good and how many meetings and how much to get this up and going. This is real, we just did it. There are over 70 SME contributors to date and growing, and the great thing is, all you have to do is add #SMEcommunity to a tweet and join in.
Well that was not as difficult as I thought, better out than in, as they say.
Visit Debi Haper’s site at www.tusnuadesigns.net