As we hit December it has been a good time to reflect on my business journey as a lockdown start-up and think about what 2021 may hold.
Starting a business at the beginning of a global pandemic may seem a bit bonkers to many but it has been an incredible year for me and Dot & Stripe in so many ways.
None of us could have imagined what 2021 would have in store for us and at the start of the year I was happily doing some freelance marketing work and juggling a 3 and a half year-old and a new baby. For a long time, the idea of setting up a ‘proper’ marketing business was on the cards, but it never felt like the timing was right.
Sadly, as lockdown loomed my freelance work went on hold and it was the metaphorical butt kick, I needed to get my business started. I met with a fantastic business coach (Lisa Sheppard Coaching) who helped me get started and come March I had my business set up.
Lockdown turned out to be a boost for my business rather than a hinderance. My husband was working at home so we were both juggling the children, I was able to attend LOADS of networking sessions which had moved online , meeting people from across the country and many businesses were looking for advice on how they could adapt and grow, so I was able to jump in and support them.
By May 2020, my website was officially launched, and I was counting down to hosting my first workshop helping small businesses build up their ideal customer personas and build better content plans. I managed to get some speaking opportunities in networking groups and even a podcast, and I threw myself into get my business out there.
In July 2021 I attended the first ONline Showcase hosted by Polka Dot Events exhibiting what I had to offer and another opportunity to network.
By August, the opportunity to take on running my own networking group landed in my inbox and so I signed up as leader of MIB International Networking Northampton, aimed at mums and women in business in the local area. That has been hugely rewarding, and as we approach the end of the year, we have hosted 4 networking sessions and the group is almost at 300 members.
Throughout the year I supported many businesses with content planning workshops, social media management, content creation, marketing clinics and lots of other marketing support. I have even been lucky enough to work alongside PR agencies and digital agencies helping with their clients too.
I am excited to see what 2021 brings for Dot & Stripe. It will officially be my first year in business by April 2021 which is just incredible. I have achieved so much in such a short space of time, all whilst managing childcare and a global pandemic (which has not always been easy) but I have BIG plans for levelling up in 2021. So, watch this space!
Here are a few groups and people that have really supported me, and I want to say thank you:
Keep your eyes peeled on what is to come from Dot & Stripe in 2021- I cannot wait to see what happens next!
Networking has played a huge part in my business since I got started. It has been my chance to get out there and showcase what I can do, as well as meet other businesses. I thought I would share my experience of networking and why It has been invaluable for my business.
I started Dot & Stripe at the beginning of lockdown due to COVID-19. I had been running my children’s franchise business in 2019 and decided to sell up just before I had my son in September 2019. I had found myself leading the marketing for the main franchise HQ and it was a great flexible situation which I could balance around childcare and still use my experience. Have a read about my blog on how I got started.
But as the rumours of lockdown circulated, the franchise children’s events stopped, and unfortunately so did the marketing work I did for them. But, for a long time I knew I had to get myself out there to support more businesses, so it was just the butt kick I needed to get started.
Like everyone I panicked about how I was going to be able to grow my business and get clients when I could not actually leave the house. But very quickly many of the usual face to face networking sessions began appearing online to join.
It was great for me, as I could join a quick networking session for one hour, rather than having to travel to a venue and it take up more of my day. Of course, many of us experienced technical hiccups, children running in, microphones left on and many more obscure distractions. But it was great to feel connected to people, even when we could not meet in person.
I found regular sessions to join like the Kettering Business Network, which I joined each Monday morning to kick start my week, and Busy Women Networking, which supported women in business to promote themselves and made loads of new connections and was referred to many new businesses too. I also balanced free networking sessions with paid ones which I felt I was getting the most value.
Going regularly really boosted the times I was being referred or mentioned. Jumping in and disappearing just makes you look like you are only in it to talk about yourself.
As lockdown begins to ease, I am looking forward to seeing what the future of my networking looks like. Whether it remains online or heads face to face, I will definitely be continuing to invest in networking for my business and for myself.
If you know any local networking groups which I am missing out on do let me know, I would love to join.
I decided to take over leading the MIB Intl Networking Northampton group in August 2020, where it’s an opportunity for mums and women in business to connect and networking around their families. We have a Facebook group and run monthly networking events which we would love to welcome you to.
Join our Facebook Group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/958832387916648/
It has been a challenging (and interesting) time for us all these last few months. To say it has been difficult for many is an understatement.
I feel so lucky that we have been able to stay safe at home and my husband has remained working and able to locate in the home office. And with all the chaos going on in the outside world, I decided to set up my business….yep, that’s right.
In September 2019, I had our second child and was balancing running the marketing for a leading children’s franchise business around the kids. It worked well around my situation.
For a long time I had been wanting to take the plunge and start sourcing more business with a ‘proper’ brand and website. As more news appeared around coronavirus it became clear that we were going to be stuck at home for some time.
Being at home has allowed me the time to focus on getting my business set up and online networking has been perfect to connect but also fit around the kids and my husbands work.
When I reflect what I have achieved in the last few months, its bonkers. Me and my husband have made a great team when it comes to juggling the children around work meetings and he has been a huge support with getting me kick started.
It has shown me that, now more than ever, small businesses need to filter what marketing will bring them the most value, and most of the time they just need to understand the basic (but essential) aspects to help grow their business and that’s where I can help.