I have moments of feeling like a bit of a try hard stalker. I'm working hard to navigate my way through social media land and find people to connect with, finding my tribes. I'm finding people to learn from, people that can sign post me in the right direction. Instagram has been my main source of research - it's chock full of the designers, makers, photographers, bloggers, vloggers, floggers, networkers etc that I want to chat with, and learn from. It can be easy though to end up going down an 'Instagram worm hole'. Starting out liking some typography declaring words of encouragement and ending up 20 minutes later commenting on and purchasing a unicorn badge!
The thing (and there are many things as I'm discovering) with running your own business, is that no-one's telling you what to do, or how to do it. That is unless of course you decide to pay someone to manage your business affairs, and do all the bits you have no clue what to do. I'm doing my best to watch, learn, be inspired, and to get my butt out there to as many events, workshops and talks as I can squeeze in before I escape across the Atlantic.
And, you know what, I am LOVING it. My little grey cells are bouncing around my head with input, and ideas. For the first time in a very long time I feel excited and creative about work. I realise I had become stuck in a rut at work. Even moving brands it could often end up feeling like ground hog day, in a fashion-ey kinda way. Different T-Shirt, same pointless 20 meetings to discuss the stupid T-shirt before it can go get made and be sold. Thinking back I also can't remember the last time a job paid for me to go and do any training or development. There was always talk in performance reviews (what a waste of time they were!) of how I might want to progress, but rarely was any support given to actually help make that happen. I always for example wanted to learn how to knit. I can design Knitwear, but I've never actually used a knitting machine. Only a few months ago did I pick up knitting needles for the first time, and learn how to cast on and clock up a few pearl stitches!
I think you're never to old to learn, I think it's good for your brain to keep it active and challenged. I'm of course having to find clever ways of learning this Entrepreneurial craft. I'm now e-mail subscribed to a few business coaches, social media trainers, advertisers, networking coordinators, marketing gurus, PR gurus, magazine advertorials, webzine opportunities and Blogging networkers (and breath!). If I was to sign up to everything currently in my Inbox I would probably drop the best part of £3000. Add on to that the cost of daycare and babysitters for the evening events, and there's no way thats gonna happen.
So, I've focused what I'm willing to pay for, and I'm finding ways to teach myself things. There are quite a few advisory and training type services that let you sign up to their newsletter or Facebook page. They will often send you or give access to some easy tips in their field of expertise. This is obviously a lead in to then eventually using their services, but I've had some really helpful guidance from these forums, and it's also connected me with people that in turn have helped advise or sign post me to things.
Here's some of my favourites:
Monkfeet Affordable workshops run by professionals for small businesses. Check out the sort of people they have running the courses. These are real people that are running real businesses. I recently attended Turning Passion into Pounds. Hosted by Vicki Psarias of Honest Mum, one of the UK's most successful bloggers, and Jessica Huie MBE founder of JH Public Relations and Color blind Cards. They presented along with an impressive line up of inspiring women each telling their story of how they turned their passion into a successful business.
Eventbrite Get on it, and start searching for what you want to learn about
Enterprise Nation Lists affordable training workshops. You can join up for a very low fee to get access to advise, support, and lots of other useful business related stuff
Mothers Meetings Affordable and inclusive (not exclusive) events for networking, learning, and meeting like minded Mommas run by the energetic and highly motivational Jenny Scott
Just Got Made Connecting Makers with services, workspaces, materials & equipment they need. Sign up to their newsletter to hear about workshops, fairs, trade shows etc
Fashion Capital They are a garment manufacturer with so much more! Workshops, workspaces, internships, affordable materials... check them out and sign up to the newsletter
Soulful PR Facebook Community set up by the lovely, and funny Janet Murray. She regularly posts tips, and prompts to get you started thinking all things PR
Make Light from Photographer Emily Quinton. She runs online and in person photography workshops. Sign up to her newsletter to get some tips to get you going
I also find people on social media who have a point of view or aesthetic that resonates with me. I then see who they're into, and who follows them, because it's likely I'll probably like what they're up to too! I've found out about some of the events I've been to through doing this. People can often post about where they're going, and what they've signed up for. Slightly stalker-ey, but ye know if you post on Social Media you're sharing it with the world aren't you?! I guess it's like finding the right people you connect with, and perhaps viewing their feeds as a curation of information and inspiration.
You're probably following these guys already, but these are kinda my style & humour gurus. I love what they're doing, and how they're going about it. I dig their ethic, the vibe, all the feels (as Mother Pukka would say!)
Scummy Mummies just listen to their podcast to brighten your day. They interview some top birds as well, and if you like them, you'll love who they interview!
Mother Pukka nuff said, she's awesome, if you don't follow her already, why not? #getonit
Dress Like a Mum Like her attitude, love her style, aspire to the wall pose portfolio
Midwifey Hooper Funny, stylish, have fringe envy. Has just had twins, and still looks amazing
Cherry Healey Letters to my Fanny is next on our book club read!
Steph Don't Buy Her Flowers Honest tales of Parenthood, and maker of lovely bundles of lovlieness gift packages (if you are a friend reading this I would like one for my leaving present thank you)
Selfish Mother Molly Gunn curator of blogs from a sisterhood of Mummy Bloggers (am still summoning courage to post on there!). Also subscribe to their You Tube channel. Love their 5 top tips posts.
I'm also part of some small business groups, and they have their own Facebook pages. It's another great way to connect with my 'flogging it' tribe, and share ideas, advise and motivation:
All By Mama - one of the other websites I sell through. They go above and beyond just selling your wares. Hilary and Gemma the Mother & Daughter team are there to encourage, support and advise you. The Mommas that sell on there are a lovely bunch too who totally get what's it's like juggling running a business around family life
Bubele - Have you downloaded the App yet? No? Well #getonthat too! It lists activities and services for Kids under 8 in your local area. They also have a Facebook group for Mummy run small businesses - again lots of support, tips etc
You can also make your own little tribe. My local buddies who run Kids businesses are part of:
Curated by Crafted We're a small group of South West London small Kids businesses collaborating, supporting and helping each other one coffee break and Facebook post at a time! If you want to come join us drop me a line!
Right, best sign off. Letters to sew, workshops to attend, and coffee to consume to keep these grey cells working.