The three best things I’ve done to develop my business

I started my business in 2020, along with thousands of others who took the leap into working for themselves. In a year of lockdown and restrictions, today I'm reflecting on three things I've done so far to develop my business.

Listening to and learning from others

I've been devouring so many resources, to learn from the experience of others who have running businesses for years, as well as learning the technical how-to's and tips from Facebook groups I'm part of. The stand-out people I've found really helpful in the last few months to develop my personal and professional development are:

  • Fiona Thomas – her book 'Out of Office' has been hugely helpful and practical to me as a new business owner (Fiona also has a series of podcasts which are one of my favourite small business listens).
  • Liz Mosley – Building your brand podcasts (the email marketing episode really convinced me to invest my time in building an email subscriber list).
  • The Two Lauras – I invested in the Social Media Managers toolkit and their Facebook group is a very supportive and helpful community for social media professionals.
  • Lottie Stevenson - After attending a workshop about how to use video to represent your business, I made two videos; one for newsletter subscribers (join the community here!), and a client testimonial video. Lottie was such an influence on me taking the plunge into investing more heavily into video marketing.

You might notice that most of these resources aren't social media-based (although all of the above have excellent social media content too!) and my investment has been in a small group of business owners that I trust and have seen value from engaging with. For me, a smaller number of trusted voices has built value into my business, more so than if I had engaged with every self-confessed Instagram or Facebook ‘expert' going. I've also learnt to trust my own instincts and make sure that I'm learning from my own reflections and experience, rather than importing lessons that others have learned directly into my own context if it's not appropriate. We have more wisdom than we give ourselves credit for!

Setting realistic goals

Of course, a business has to have goals. These could be to hit your income goal each month, a goal to focus your time which enables you to have more family time, or to ensure that your business develops your creativity and skills.

My goals for my first year in business have been:

  • To position myself as a supportive expert in digital marketing for local businesses
  • To attract local clients for my business services, and to offer my marketing webshop products to small businesses who can't yet afford my 1:1 pricing
  • To enjoy managing a small business alongside my other work and life commitments, and keeping good mental health

You might notice that there are no numerical targets in my list – this is partly down to the fact that I'm still in part-time employment and this first year has been a year of learning about my own capacity, but also partly because primarily I'm not numbers-driven. I prefer to measure the success of my business in practical beneficial ways, but in the coming years, I probably will start to develop some SMART targets.

Being brave and putting myself ‘out there' (while enjoying the creative process!)

One of the big personal mind blocks I've faced in the past year is the concept of selling myself. There are some things that I still feel nervous to do - you're unlikely to see me doing face-to-camera Instagram stories very often! - but I do want to develop my use of social media features in a way that I'm comfortable with. My current favourite is to record voiceovers for Instagram reels!

I'd love to know the best things you've done, or are doing, to develop your business!