One Year On; What a Difference a Year Makes

September 19th, 2012

It is hard to believe that this time last year, I was returning from my six-week trip around Europe to start trading as Alison Love Limited. I did not doubt my decision but I was anxious about the prospect of no paid work or employment on my return. My husband’s support was invaluable and once I was back and starting to do things, all my anxieties disappeared very quickly.

So where am I one year on; what has worked well and what would I do differently?

On return from this year’s summer holiday I have come back to a pretty full diary. In addition, with the wonders of modern technology, I was fielding emails whilst away and dealt with a number of potential enquiries from sunny Greece. The difference one year on is amazing and I am really pleased with the progress and how business is building.

I am particularly pleased with how I am building business from business. For example a number of mediations have led to coaching instructions or training, or indeed both.

The workplace mediation side of the business has developed more quickly than I had anticipated.  Almost from day one, I have had fairly consistent mediation instructions. I had thought that this would take a little longer to build and that there would be a greater need to do some awareness raising before instructions started to come in. The local market was clearly ready for an expert practitioner and my timing absolutely right.

Training on the other hand has been a slower start.  There has been interest from the start but the time between enquiry and commission is sometimes quite lengthy. This is now building well with a number of training commissions in the diary for the remainder of the year. The decision to hold a number of open delegate courses and taster sessions has worked well and helped to build momentum.

Coaching is something that I am passionate about and really enjoy. Coaching skills are very closely aligned to the skills used in a mediation context so the two work together very well. Much of my coaching work to date has been supporting individuals in conflict situations either pre or post mediations and I would like to build up a more general coaching practice in the future. I am part way through my ILM Level 7 coaching qualification which I am enjoying and which will no doubt be of huge benefit.

Whilst the different service offerings have not developed precisely as envisaged the overall progress has exceeded expectations. I think that this is due, in part, to being quick to react to things, having a go and remaining positive.

I did underestimate the set up (and running) costs. I did not fully take into account the little things (which add up) and which you take for granted when operating in a larger business, such as printing and stationary costs. There are one or two items of expenditure which in hindsight were unnecessary but these are minor in nature and I will learn from that in year two. In addition I underestimated the time necessary to do all the business administration, finance and development; all of which do not directly earn fees. However , I can see that the vast majority of this time and money has been well spent, is worth the investment and is beginning to pay off.

Most importantly I am loving what I am doing, it is incredibly satisfying to directly see the benefits of resolving disputes positively on individuals and businesses or helping others to do so more effectively. I am also throughly enjoying learning from everything I am doing and from everyone that I come into contact with; it really is continuous learning in the true sense.

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