So what’s been going on Mands? AKA The journey to my current business.
I felt embarrassed.
Because it’s a bit weird isn’t it. To start a new business. Sell the old one.
Start another new one, then stop both to work on something different.
And I felt embarrassed about it.
I felt embarrassed for not getting clearer on what I wanted.
I felt annoyed at myself for spending time on something which went to waste.
I felt frustrated that the answers had been staring me in the face.
I felt sad for seemingly failing.
And I felt like I had let myself and other people down.
There I said it.
You might know a bit about me.
Or you might not know much at all, so I’ll share just a bit.
Over 7 years I have run a business in some form. It started with wedding stationery, and that branched out into cards, stationery & gifts, which I sold through Notonthehighstreet. I then started a blog alongside my products and talked about being a mum and running a business at the same time, the highs and the lows and everything in between.
After the birth of my second child, I really struggled with post-natal depression. Something I had never experienced before. I had seen others going through it, but I didn’t really get it till I was dealing with it myself. I felt miserable and angry, and frustrated.
I just wanted to get better. Whatever better was. I was completely unmotivated.
Last year, I sold the stationery business, which I felt surprisingly OK with. I was ready to let someone else love it. I found a lovely fellow Notonthehighstreet seller to sell it to, and I moved on to a different idea.
I’d had an idea for a community of creatives, coming together, sharing talents and ideas, friendship and support. I ploughed ahead with a membership idea despite not ‘properly’ researching the idea. I had some sign-ups, but not as many as I wanted, and as I was working on it, I was coming up against this barrier, I just wasn’t sure what it was.
I started researching a different part of the idea I’d thought of, a marketplace selling business services. I did over 35 one-to-one video calls, surveys and got all my ideas into a lean business plan. There was a need. I could see there was a need, and I had people telling me that they didn’t realise they needed it, but now they wish it was around now!
Still, something didn’t feel quite right. I took a few weeks off social media to really think about it. Essentially the idea was a tech startup, an idea which would need me to invest a huge amount of time, and possibly look at outside investment. I looked at my kids, still young at 2 and 4, and knew that I couldn’t make a commitment to go ahead with the idea.
But this time, I didn’t feel like I had failed.
I had changed. The experience changed me. I had done things the ‘right’ way and properly researched an idea, and looked at my life and business and decided, ‘no, this isn’t what I want for my life right now.’
And that’s never failing.
Besides what is failing anyway? Deciding something isn’t the right move for you, or deciding you don’t want to run the business you’ve started isn’t failing but accepting honestly what you want and what you don’t.
And surely, that can only lead to a happier life.
Taking care of my mental health
I took a little while off after that, time away from social media, testing a few ideas, doing some casual graphic design work.
I actively started to work on improving my mental health, I started talking to others about it and trying to break down some of the stigma. I started up an Instagram account with the idea of creating a marketplace to sell cards & gifts for those struggling with their mental health. It did wonders for my own mental health, and I met some amazing people and started having open and honest conversations with them. Some who I had known for years but didn’t know that they were also struggling.
I’m not sure when the marketplace will go ahead, but I know that I want to make sure that I continue to be part of the community speaking out for better education and services for mental health. I know how important it’s been for me.
If you are struggling, or have struggled, I am so sorry. I know how crippling it can be.
If you are a business owner or a freelancer, and your mental health has taken a turn for the worst, I get it. Some days you can’t imagine getting out of bed, let alone responding to a client. Some days you feel like all you can do is make it through the day.
And when you work at home, that feeling of isolation can make it even worse.
I still struggle with the idea of how much I should share for fear that someone might not trust me with work, but I have decided that it doesn’t matter, (besides, I’d never take a job unless I knew I could do it) in order to break down these barriers and encourage people to talk we need to be brave to share what we are going through in order to help others. You don’t have to get on social media and talk about it to thousands of people, but just talk to one person.
And if you need help, please find someone you can talk to, go to your GP or mental health services. You can find more information on the Mind website here.
Working out what you really want
So, why am I here? Doing this?
One day I was chatting to my husband about how I was feeling in a good place again, and asking him what I should do now. He simply said…
‘Don’t do anything new. You have so much knowledge, and you love doing it. Share what you know.’
Could it really be that easy?
What had I always loved? What was I good at? I knew pretty much instantly. It involved branding, web design and helping small business owners to un-muddle their owns thoughts and get clear on what they wanted. I just had to work out how to put it all together.
I’m very lucky as my husband Michael has been working in sales & marketing for the past ten years, working for some brilliant brands such as the Guardian, Sky and Playstation. He knows his stuff.
And as much as I hate to admit it, he was right.
I just needed to do what I loved and what I was good at.
I was going to find a way to do that and earn a good living providing for my family while I did it. Already I have grown my services to take on branding & web design clients and now I am working on the strategy sessions.
The husband is on board too, and will be helping with the marketing side of things, teaching small businesses what they can learn from big brands, and how to implement a marketing strategy to maintain consistency across the board.
So here I am. And I don’t feel embarrassed anymore. Because everything has led me to this point.
I’m so happy to be here. I’m happy I’ve made it here to this place.
And I hope I can help you somehow too.