Have you ever thought – I’d like to write a book? I’d like to tell my story? Can I write a book? Would anyone actually be interested?
As a person who does a lot of writing as part of my business, it may seem strange to tell you that I’ve often asked myself all of the above. When I was a child I always wanted to be an author but, as I got older I wondered if I truly had anything to say of value. I was also pretty sure I couldn’t sustain a story of fiction for long enough.
After several years of running my own business I realise that I do have a lot to say, and some people will want to hear it.
In fact, I’ve learned that we ALL have something to say and there will always be those who want to hear it. All of us have value.
Once I truly accepted this fact, I found it surprisingly easy to share one of my stories. I’m now in a place where I’m not worried about those who don’t want to listen – those people will always be around – I’m reaching out to those who are life’s do-ers. Those who at least have a go at their ‘thing’ and those who want to live life with few regrets.
This week, my first foray into writing about myself in a book came to fruition. The book – available on Kindle – is Playing & Staying At The Top of Your Game – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00KB2XRYI .
It tells stories from a dozen business women from across the south west who want to encourage and inspire other women to try and to persevere if they want to start or develop their own business. Each story is very different. It’s thanks to my women’s business club – I Am Woman – that I’ve finally taken the plunge. I’m already thinking now about doing an entire book covering many aspects of my professional life.
My story shared in Playing & Staying At The Top of Your Game
My story about starting my own business and what I learned in those early days is not what you think. I’m not the business person who nurtured an idea, let it grow and then went into it with rose-tinted glasses and making a million in a month. My story is very different.
I had my dream job – and I lost it. I never wanted to be self-employed, I didn’t want to run my own business and I was devastated that life had thrown me such a curve ball. However, I couldn’t change the fact that this had happened. All I could control was what I did next – and that’s the story I tell. Looking back, I realise my more negative start actually stood me in good stead. It didn’t mean I didn’t make any mistakes – I made loads. But my view was always realistic and I seemed to be able to spot when something wasn’t working. To find out more, of course, you’re going to have to read the book.
Is this being arrogant? Some might think so – but why do we women often feel embarrassed about blowing our own trumpet? Is it because men think less of us? Not in my case – I actually think it’s more because some women think less of us. Some cannot stand the fact that others are more ‘out there’ than they are. Women can be women’s own worst enemies. Truth is, I don’t actually care what anyone thinks, those who are interested will read the book, those who are not – won’t.
So I’ll end on these two notes – the woman who writes thousands and thousands of words each year about others has now written some words about herself. She also remembers one very important lesson in life which has sustained her. It was a saying which a teacher, Christopher Drew, put into my autograph book on the day I left primary school back in the 1970s. It’s always reminded me that life is always a journey of discovery and, thankfully, there’s so much more left to learn:
‘HE WHO KNOWS NOT AND KNOWS NOT THAT HE KNOWS NOT. SHUN HIM FOR HE IS A FOOL’.
I’ve worked with many small businesses and charities over the years and have found that plenty would like to have a regular presence in the media or online but few have the budget to match.
PR takes time, and while a couple of articles in the press may help with instant publicity, often what is needed is a long-term strategy to develop a brand and continuous plugging away at getting customer recognition. Many small organisations lack the skills internally and can’t afford to hire someone on an on-going basis, so how can they build a media profile?
Fiona and I have been puzzling about how to tackle this issue for a while. We were talking with social media whizz, Jackie Hutchings and fellow blogger and journalist Jo Smyth, it turned out that they’d been pondering the same thoughts too.
So we’ve decided to join forces and run a course on – to put it bluntly – do it yourself PR.
We have more than enough experience between us to teach the basics on how to get started on social networks, to engage an audience, blog and write a press release. We find that many small business businesses have stories to tell but they don’t know how to communicate them effectively on or offline. There is a method in writing a decent press release, and there are strategies to deploy to give that story more chance of being used. This day will help delegates understand how the media works, what makes a good story and what doesn’t.
We are prepared for complete beginners, who find Facebook, Twitter and Google+ a complete modern mystery, and for those who use social media but would like to engage in a more effective way. By the end of the day you should be able to identify and write a good story about your news and know how to maximise the ways of communicating that message. Our aim is that delegates walk away with real, practical skills to build on what they already know.
And the final thing is, this course is aimed just at women.
We want a relaxed vibe to the day, where questions (however basic) can be asked with no judgement.
My DIY PR takes place at the Mechanics Institute in Milton Rd, Swindon on Tuesday, October 23rd.
Anyone interested can book here
This week, rather than a rant, I thought I’d share some good news with you. We have already added two new clients to our bourgeoning business this year. It’s all very exciting and it’s still only the end of January.
It’s a strange thing building a business. You would think that it would happen in a steady stream with one customer coming along to follow another but the reality is that sometimes there’s a drought and then all of a sudden there’s the promise of a glut. Obviously a lot of work goes on behind the scenes to get those clients and, as Fiona wrote in her last blog, there’s been plenty of networking going on with us.
That’s been our attitude this year. We’ve been very proactive, getting ourselves out there, meeting potential clients, interacting with new people and simply talking about the business. There’s been plenty of self-promotion and it’s begun to pay off.
We’ve learnt that when business is quiet the worse thing to do is go underground, blaming anyone or extenuating circumstances for the lack of work. We are in a very challenging working climate at the moment, where people tend to be cautious about spending money, but I think that if you show that you can help a client with an aspect of their business by providing a skillset that they don’t have in house, then there is a market for experienced freelancers and small companies to fill that gap.
Despite the economic climate there are lots of small businesses out there – we know because we meet the owners – and they all need different skills to expand. It can be graphics, accountancy, personnel expertise or if we are lucky to be in the right place, PR, writing and film making. I keep meeting more and more specialist skilled freelancers, perhaps because of the amount of redundancies going on, but these are people who are keen to take the leap to work for themselves.
This year is going to be very interesting, seeing clients increase their business through the skills we provide and seeing our business expand in equal measure. It could be a very good year all round.