Reflections on 2011; a year of change and progress.

December 30th, 2011

Major changes during 2011

Now that 2012 is very nearly upon us, I can not help reflecting on what has been a momentous year. I can not remember a year where there have been quite so many significant political or world events; from the Arab spring uprising, UK riots, phone hacking revelations, strikes and the ongoing Euro crisis to name but a few. 

For me personally the year has also been one of significant events, fortunately of a far more positive nature.  It has been a year of change which is overwhelmingly exciting and I am  loving the adventure.  I have celebrated a first wonderful year of marriage, I had the privilege of spending a wonderful six weeks of travelling with my family over the summer holidays (for full details of our adventures see my earlier blogs),  my eldest son has turned 16 and I have left the security of my 12 years as a Partner at Hugh James to start-up my own business. 

I am really pleased with how well the new business is going, particularly at this early stage. I love my new life of freedom and flexibility and the fact that I am doing something new and different. Reflecting on the process of starting a new business, the following are things that have  been important to me or which I  learnt along the way. For anyone contemplating a change of lifestyle and career I hope that these might be of some help.

  • Get some good career coaching.  Test out your ideas, make sure that what you are planning to do really utilises your skills and fits with your life goals.  I am indebted to a good friend who clarified my thinking in this regard.
  • Have a support network in place. I am very fortunate to have fantastic support from colleagues, friends and family, and importantly one or two people ( you know who you are) who will give me the necessary encouragement or straight talking when necessary.
  • Don’t underestimate the planning. I totally underestimated how much time I would need to spend on such things as sorting out my website and branding. I did at stages wonder whether it was worth all the time and effort but now realise that it clearly was. My thanks to Joel  Hughes (Jojet Ltd) and Russell Britton who worked together brilliantly and gave great advise. Getting my administration and paperwork in place right from the start has also proved to be a good investment of time.
  • Build on and utilise your networks.  My already strong network of contacts has been invaluable in getting me off to a good start. With a lot of help and guidance I am also learning how to use both the relationship building skills I am most comfortable with ( the face to face meetings or contact) with those that I was less familiar with; namely social networks. I am learning new skills, am coming to understand how it all works together and also beginning to see the results. My thanks in this respect again go to Joel of Jojet.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask. I have been amazed  by and am very grateful for the willingness of others to give their time to help, offer advice or put me in contact with others. It is also amazing what comes out of such conversations and the opportunities that can arise. For me this has already resulted in me working in association with others to provide accredited mediation training and many other “irons in fires”. As John Handy puts it ” you have to be in the orchard to catch the apples”.
  • Be courageous, willing to learn and have a can do attitude. When running your own business you have to provide your own IT, admin, accounts, marketing, business development etc support without the luxury of teams of people to assist or delegate to. Whilst I am looking forward to outsourcing some of this at some stage, I think they are all important skills that all business leaders should understand fully. I feel that I have gained considerable knowledge and skills by doing so and that this will be important as the business develops. It is sometimes a bit scary but with the support network and help from friends and family I am proud at what I have achieved so far.
  • Have fun. Life is all too short to be doing something that you do not enjoy and get real satisfaction from. I have been working hard but loving learning new skills and developing something new with total control over what, when and how. I have also ensured that I have time to explore interests outside of work for the first time in many years. Finally and most importantly, I get a real buzz out of helping people to resolve workplace conflict and improving their own lives and health and wellbeing; there is nothing quite like it. I love that I am doing something both fascinating and extremely worthwhile.

Despite the uncertainties around us all, I look forward to the next part of the adventure in 2012. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a prosperous and happy 2012; enjoy the challenges, seize all opportunities and embrace and lead change (I think that will be my New Year resolution!).

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