Words from Marilyn

Well, today, 3rd April 2014, I celebrate my first year of being self employed or could it even be described as my first year as a female entrepreneur!  I would like to share this journey with you and I hope you gain some tips from this blog to help you on yours.

What a journey it has been!

Little did I realise the challenges I was going to face when I started my JOURNEY, not least learning and getting the hang of social media, sales, marketing and branding.

I came up with my business ideas from my own working experiences and made the decision to retire from my company after 40 years. These experiences were quite extensive. However, the one thing I knew I wanted to do was to help other professionals to balance their home and work life, giving them quality time at home and with their families.

So, my JOURNEY starts. Six months before I retired, I discussed my business ideas with Patrick Hathaway from Jammy Custard Studios, who took away all my ideas, discussed them fully with his colleague Sarah, and then began the development of my Brand and Website.

Such a wise move on my part, starting early and choosing such a creative company to realise my dream! Hello Marilyn was born and ready to go, the day following my retirement.

I cannot thank Patrick and his team enough for the time, care and advice that they have given to me since our initial meeting.  Their description of how they worked on my business, coming up with the name and logos, really gave me the confidence to become part of the personal branding they had created for me. Whereas, I previously believed I was “warm, friendly and lighthearted”, I had never considered my self as “full of vibrance with a certain elegance” as described on the website of Jammy Custard Studios.

I feel that I have grown into the person they were describing as if it was second nature to me (I must have been hiding all these years) and have further enhanced my branding, with my love of hats and all things vintage.

Marilyn collage    Marilyn at I am Woman March 2014

Personal Concierge services are very popular in the States and also quite vibrant in the London area. Introducing this service to South Wales has been quite challenging, however during this year I have been successful in gaining many regular clients and increasing my client base via referrals.  The one big hurdle I had to overcome, was to gain the trust of people, which is one of the most important qualities for a personal assistant/concierge.

ICLMA logo

Here is a link to a recent newsletter I produced which gives a little insight to the services I offer.

http://eepurl.com/N9SCX

Networking has been a huge platform for advertising my business and gaining trust and support from the many SME’s I’ve met, and become friends with.  Each group has their own brand of support for SME’s including offering many courses to assist with, financing small business’s, social media tools, marketing, sales, the list goes on. My advice is to find a Networking group that suits you personally, but don’t be afraid to review it regularly to ensure that it fits with your growing business needs.

I’ve have received much support from Cheryl Bass of Cardiff’s I Am Woman, Neil Lloyd of Zokit and Tracey Smolinski of Introbiz.

One to one mentoring with Cheryl Bass as part of the IAW membership certainly gains results if you are really looking to grow your business.  One session with her and I had the perfect marketing tool for my business.  This proved a very popular and memorable marketing tool, and I’m looking to “planting more seeds to grow my business” this Spring.

The growing of my gift Plant almost complete plant & box the end product

Having a stand at the Introbiz Business Show last September as part of my membership enabled me to test my marketing experience, and it was well received by visitors to my stand. I wanted something a little different to cakes and Champagne, so I created a prize draw utilising my plants and Babycham as prizes whilst complimenting my vintage brand.

Introbiz Business show stand

I am currently working on a few business events in conjunction with Neil Lloyd of Zokit. One being a trip to London’s Excel Centre for the Great British Business Show, with executive coach travel arrangements.

http://zokit.co.uk/product/london-road-trip-thursday-15th-may-from-cardiff/

Here are a small selection of marketing materials that I am currently using.

Postcard - Party  Postcard home Hello Marilyn branded flowers

Concierge ServicesKeep Calm

Now to social media! I didn’t have a twitter or LinkedIn account when I first started in business and learning to make best use of these tools to the advantage of my business was very important to me, as was utilising business Facebook pages and making the most of Google+.  Any new business person reading this, please do not underestimate the importance of these platforms for advertising and gaining new business opportunities.

Last week I found myself saying to a few people that “I have a go but I’m not very good at it” and here was their response a few hours later!

Tweet_fun

I then realised, that it wasn’t my skills in question, but time! As an SME we don’t have employees to look after certain parts of the business.

A few things of note happened to me last year, one being invited to take part on a Radio Wales panel to discuss things that can wrong at Christmas, which was a fabulous experience, and the other was having my business showcased on the Guardian Small Business Network site.

http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2013/aug/15/showcase-home-business-innovation-hello-marilyn

I particularly enjoy the pet sitting side to my business.  Walking dogs and having some smaller pets to visit me for a few days.

The Party Planning side to my business fits in perfectly with my personal assistant services, giving a service to clients, to take away the pressure of important celebrations, personal and corporate.

A pilot scheme I ran earlier this year was to bring people together to enjoy social occasions, especially those that are looking for friendships.  You can see the results and information on how to book onto the scheme from my blog by following this link.  http://hellomarilyn.co.uk/eventplanning/?p=645

One of my favourite events was to organise a pre-wedding celebration for a couple who were getting married in the States, but wanted the celebration before they left.  It was a great occasion for family and friends to celebrate the love the couple share and to wish the bride-in-waiting all the best for her new life in the States.

Enchanting Daffodils all the way Creating mood lighting for the evening

I have some exciting projects to look forward to, going into my second year as an SME and am really looking forward to lending my help to lots of new clients.

There are a few people I would like to thank for their support over the last year, but most of all I must thank my clients, who are already reaping the benefits that Hello Marilyn provides.

HELLO MARILYN’s ROLL OF HONOUR 2014

Patrick Hathaway of Jammy Custard.

Cheryl Bass, for her continued support via I Am Woman.

Katharine C. Giovanni, original founder of ICLMA. She is always ready and happy to give her most valued expertise and advice.

Andy Bird, my Business Support Manager. For all his advice and encouragement.

Not forgetting all my friends old and new, who have supported me.

I could not have achieved this first year success without your support. THANK YOU.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog and I would really appreciate any comments you’d like to make, especially if my writing has helped to inspire you to start your own adventure into self employment.