So, today we celebrate our 2nd Birthday! And to be completely honest, I'm a bit overwhelmed and not quite sure how to write this post. So much has happened. In fact that last sentence is such a ridiculous understatement I think you might need to times "so much has happened" by the power of, I dunno, say a million!
I'm truly struggling to focus, which I must admit is pretty evident by me using anything remotely mathematical as reference! Where to begin? I've learned so, so much in these very, very short years and have had what sometimes seems like just far too much fun! Don't get me wrong, a new business (and my lovely team on maternity leave may not agree with me on this one), is like a new baby. Something which is a totally brilliant idea, but which you completely underestimated in terms of how much it take over your life and would need from you in time, energy, patience, effort, determination and sheer hard work. But with it brings joy. And you love it. Especially when you get voted best Wedding Florist for your region!
Let's not get carried away though, it's hard to start a business. For anyone, especially if you have children. But I must admit I found it really hard. Without getting all political, it's a fact that we live in a pretty ageist society. This is something I've only discovered as I've gotten older. Not many people start their first business in their 50's. Especially not one which requires hard physical work! You have to want it really badly and try to ignore the way in which people's preconceptions or stereotypes can affect their perception of you and just keep going. All those years of being around can add up to quite a few positives which may be missed by those who only see 'a mature woman'!
The benefits of running a business are innumerable. I adore my family, am blessed with the fabbest friends and am a happy soul generally but I have to say that Campbell's has brought me a new quiet confidence and self-respect that I've never really had before. It makes me truly happy. Don't get me wrong, the full weight of responsibility can induce fear and panic like I've never experienced before, but that's just the result of caring so much. Weddings and large-scale events can do that to you - they need to be right. Overall, being a business-owner is a good thing!
So, as I'm in serious danger of over-doing the soliloquising, these are a few things I have learnt
- Choose your friends wisely. When you first start up it's quite hard to know who they are. There are a group of people who were beyond lovely to me when I started up and I am blessed to have some amazingly supportive friends in this industry. These include kind hearts who loyally follow me and send me lovely messages which seriously cheer up a bleak day. They make social media a good place and their words are appreciated and reciprocated.
To a lesser extent there are people I befriended, who I've really helped, who've not played nicely and who noticeably do pretty much the same as I do! Like little carbon-copies. Time and time again. Sad, but true. I've learned the hard way to be pragmatic. Dignity is all!
- Don't fall out with people. It's not professional. I've been seriously provoked on many an occasion and I retaliated once and once only. I regretted it. I ended up apologising, more because I felt I'd let myself down than because I thought I was wrong. When you deal with people, you deal with all kinds of people. You won't like everyone, it's just not possible - not everyone is going to be your cuppa! What I would say is keep it to yourself. My tiff was all conducted in private and it's stayed that way. I intensely dislike people in this business who use social media as a platform to belittle people or generally moan about business situations. Preserve your integrity and if you need to vent (as we all do), do it in private!
- Stay focussed. As the business grows, trying to literally do everything can sometimes shift your perspective or energy into a direction you never meant to go in. Try to keep in mind why you started your business. Mine's always been about creativity teamed with fab customer service. I didn't like the way weddings were just part of the day-to-day commercial running of the traditional florist shops I worked in, which had always done it the same way for years. In specialising I decided I wanted to look after my Brides and make the flowers a really memorable part of their day and not just something to be ticked off a 'to do' list.
- Create a team around you. They're your cushion, your friends, your saviours! Treat them well and appreciate everything they do for you because if things go well and business blooms, you won't be able to do it alone.
That's all folks! This year we promise to look after you the best way we can, work seasonally, champion British and locally grown flowers, create unforgettable designs and generally just keep on doing what we're doing as judging our bookings - you seem to like it!
A HUGE thank you goes out to Amy, Izzy & Sophie for all their continuing hard work, dedication and help with the business you've been amazing and just can't wait for what 2014 brings - it's going to be a busy one! Much love to Mike & Ally for supporting me and being there (especially Mike whose design skills combined with an ability to lift the heaviest of boxes makes him the best of men!) and last, but no means least, a really MASSIVE thank you to all the brides, businesses and friends out there who choose to work with us. You truly mean a lot!