I cannot believe Clever Pins is one year old! What a roller coaster of a year it has been, I don’t even know where to begin to describe it. It has been incredible and it has been difficult; it has been a learning curve and an absolute delight all at the same time. In this blog I will share 9 lessons I have learned in my first year in business!

Did I ever think I was going to set up my own business? NO! 😆Did I ever think I was going to go into online marketing? NO!!😆 Did I ever think it was actually going to work? Well yes and no! Depending on which day you would ask me😂 Change is hard I knew that from the start!

I have a very diverse background. After graduating from uni I became a diplomat in the Dutch Foreign Office. I was posted to New Delhi, India, at the age of 24! I absolutely loved it. The experience of my first ever job and living in a completely different country than I was used to! I had a marvellous 2 years!

I met my husband in Delhi, who worked for the British High Commission, and together we moved onto El Salvador. I obtained a job as the Office manager in the British Embassy. After this I worked in the marketing department for an IT recruitment agency back in the UK and eventually moved on to retrain as a primary school teacher, which was my job for over 12 years before starting Clever Pins and where I came into contact with Pinterest!!

What am I trying to tell you with this? That you don’t need to have years and years of experience to start something new and to make something work. Of course you need to know what you are doing but you don’t need formal education to start your own small business. More an open mind and willingness to learn!

So which 9 lessons have I learned this year? 

# You need to enjoy what you do

I consider myself very lucky doing something that I really enjoy and being able to do it from home on my terms! How many people can say that? I always enjoyed browsing Pinterest for interesting teaching materials when I was a primary school teacher. And when family circumstances meant I needed to change career, the choice to go into Pinterest marketing was easy. I thoroughly enjoy setting up accounts for clients, growing their accounts but I also enjoy working on my own account, writing blogs, creating pin templates and tracking to see how they are performing!  

# You don’t need lots of money to start a small business

You really don’t need to spend lots of money to start a small business. Of course you can if you want to and you have the means to do it. But other than my website and crucial tools I need for the trade I have not invested an awful lot of money. And my business is taking off!

# Make sure you have a proper workspace

Ok, this one sounds silly but so important! I started off working from the sofa, the kitchen table, the coffee table and other than the fact that it caused me severe backache, it also prevented me from moving my business forward. So I bought myself a desk and chair, new stationary, cleared out a room….and I now have a proper office! I still work from the sofa every now and then, but the bulk of my work is done in my office (CP HQ!) and I have to say I am more productive!

# Set goals and plan!

So this one is super important! You need to set yourself goals and then plan! You know what they say ‘A goal without a plan is just a wish’. You need to have yearly, monthly and weekly plans after which you plan how you are going to achieve these! I have a proper business plan with a 10 year goals. Each year I adjust my plan for the coming year, break it down into months and then further into weeks. I then make weekly to-do lists. I use Trello for longer term goals and good old pen and paper for my weekly lists. I am not saying that is the way to do it, but it works for me! You will find a way that works best for you.

# Know your audience

Another big one and it might  take a while before you settle on your ideal client, or ICA as we call it. You will have read about this before and I am not going to bore you with the details but the further you can narrow it down the better it is. I am still working on it but slowly getting there 😊

# Know when to change things around in your business

Life can throw you curve balls so it is important to know when to pivot. The year 2020 has been extreme with Covid-19 and has meant lots of companies had to change parts of their business. This can be anything from changing something small to changing direction completely. Whatever it is, it is important to be able to recognise these moments and to take action. Not easy!

# It is okay to fail

In your new business venture there will be times when you fail at something. Instead of dwelling on it, you need to take these moments as learning moments (this is the teacher coming out in me!). Failing at something is not the end of the road, it is an opportunity to learn and to better yourself. Viewing it like this will make you more resilient and ultimately will give you the tools to create a better business.

# Keep going

Have there been times I wanted to give up? YES! 

Did I? NO!

It is important to realise from the start that success does not come overnight (ok for some it does, but they are the lucky few!). Creating a successful business takes a LOT of bl… hard work! You will have set backs and times you want to give up (this is why it is important to love what you are doing, see point 1, as this will reduce the amount of times you feel like this). But keep persevering and you will succeed. It took me a good year to get clients but here we are, the ball has started rolling and I am doing it! To get to this point I have worked solid 8+ hour days from the moment I started Clever Pins. 

# Get on top of imposter syndrome

Quite a few women suffer from imposter syndrome, I am one of them. Imogen Imposter has shown her ugly head quite a few times this past year! It is important to get on top of it and not to let it guide you. There are lots of books out there which you can read but my all time favourite is Tara Mohr’s ‘Playing Big’! It emphasises the importance of visualising yourself in the future, which I believe is very powerful. This person then becomes your inner mentor which you use every time your inner critic pops its ugly head up. 

So there you have it, 9 lessons I have learned this past year. I hope this has been a useful to you! Whatever you do, follow that dream you have, work hard and do NOT give up!

Good luck and let me know about your journey!