Sharp Thinking turns 1
Updated: Nov 3
It has been a whole year since Sharp Thinking was launched. What a year it has been. Here is a look back across defining moments across the year.
My website is launched. The dream is real. No turning back now. After months of planning my business and creating my brand, I'm now open for business. My website was developed quickly thanks to my talented hubby. I looked at a few different platforms but decided to use Wix for ease of use.
I go live with my first Instagram post as I roll out my social media strategy. Oh, how I cringe when I look back at those early posts! The world of social media had changed so much since I last worked, and I absorb everything I can to re-educate myself. The best way to learn is to immerse yourself in it. I think learning on the job is critical for social media but you need to choose your platforms carefully, understand which platforms your customers use and tailor the message accordingly.
I soon realise the power of Linked In and realise this needs to be a core platform I focus on. I start creating longer thought led pieces on key marketing topics and repurpose other content. I know this will be a long term strategy for me to raise my profile on a dedicated business platform.
I launch my first competition offering marketing consultancy to local businesses as a means to generate content and case studies in those early days of my business. I get to meet some lovely new people and exchange stories about their experiences in business whilst building my local partner network.
My business cards finally arrive after a 6-month wait. Business card design should be such a simple project, but not when working with your hubby! It was, however, worth the wait. I also have new headshots taken for my business courtesy of Georgina Edwards Photography. It is important to have some professional headshots taken for your business. They really make a difference. People want to know the face behind the business. Your headshots are part of your personal brand and you need to get this right. I also start to evolve my brand positioning and introduce a new strapline 'thoughtful ways to get your business noticed'.
My first marketing campaign for the school PTA goes live and I secure press coverage in our local newspaper and introduce the school audience to Instagram. I also start to attend local networking groups. It feels nerve-racking being a newbie on the scene when everyone else appears so confident, well established and successful. I realise that most people go through a similar learning curve and it is this which moulds you and shapes you so you have a more robust business.
I win my first major contract and learn to quickly build my partner network to resource projects. My first piece of press coverage also gets published on smallbusiness.co.uk courtesy of Carnsight Communications.
My work starts to pick up as I win more contracts and I make the decision to trade as a limited company. It is typical that my work has now taken off when it is the school holidays so I have to find emergency childcare for my children!
I'm back and recharged from my holiday and our Indian summer continues. I continue living the dream of working outside every day. This is what having your own business and working flexibly is all about. I also start to win new local business.
What a month. I had the WowBooks video and photoshoot which took place in 2 locations. I rolled out my first guest collaboration on the Sharp End with the talented Nina Mace Photography which received over 200 views. Another highlight was meeting the magnificent Carly from Keystone Virtual for my social media training!
This was my toughest month where I was pushed to my limits. I knew I just had to get through it and find strategies to cope. I was working across multiple clients developing complex strategy requiring large chunks of my time, whilst I also had campaigns with live dates all clashing. I managed a network of 10 freelancers and suppliers whilst being a full-time mum and doing the school and nursery run. I hadn't had a day off in over 3 months and was finding it hard to switch off in the evenings. This is one of the hardest things about working for yourself and working from home, there is no clear divide between home and work. I make the decision to get extra help from additional freelancers to be able to resource the projects adequately. I also got help with finance and admin to ensure my time was freed up and spent in the right areas.
November and much of December were a bit of a blur. I went into a robotic mode and would get up at the crack of dawn to put a few hours of work in before the school run every day. I knew this wasn't sustainable. However, I survived and finally got to see all my client work live – 2 websites, a brand campaign, a video, PR and social media, as well as a marketing strategy and product marketing plans. It is honestly all worth it when you see your work come together. I know that I need to get better at saying no and managing workload in the future.
A rollercoaster journey
It has truly been a rollercoaster, extreme highs and extreme lows. I had contracted before, but setting up your own business where you are responsible for cashflow and all your own sales, marketing, IT and legal affairs is very different.
The last year has been much tougher than I thought but I don't regret it for a minute. I knew it was never going to be an easy option and you have to put the work in and go through the tough times, to appreciate the good times and reap the rewards.
It was the right decision for me and for my family allowing me to work flexibly around my children whilst pursuing my passion. I have learnt so much and feel in a much stronger place to take Sharp Thinking to the next level. I've yet to get the work-life balance right, and it is something I need to focus on. But, I'm really excited for the year ahead and seeing where Sharp Thinking takes me...
For more marketing tips, then please visit my blog the Sharp end.
And to celebrate it is competition time - win a free marketing plan for your business
To celebrate Sharp Thinking's birthday and my passion, I want to give back to a small business that recognises the value in marketing but is not too sure how to get there. I'm offering a free marketing plan for one lucky small business. Marketing planning is absolutely key to any business. Yet so often it is overlooked and perceived to be not necessary. A marketing strategy and plan can help on so many levels from giving you focus, help you plan your resources, motivate your staff and set some benchmarks.
I'm not going to say it is an easy task and you do need to put the time in to develop a marketing plan. So, I'm offering one business, the opportunity of working with me to develop your marketing plan for your business. I will take the lead on this, but I will need your help in answering some questions, discussing the strengths and challenges that your business faces, as well as the more nitty-gritty parts to your business to get a deeper understanding of what it is all about. I can then devise a bespoke plan for your business.
To take part, simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org from 28/01/19 to 01/02/19 listing your full name, address, business, website URL and job title. Please read the small print below!
Terms and Conditions
Promotion open to UK business owners that have a live website and no marketing department or marketing personnel in place. 2. Promotion open from 28/01/19 – 01/02/19. 3. To enter the promotion email your name, business, address, job title and website URL to email@example.com 4. The winner will be drawn at random and notified by email on 05/02/19 and announced on social media that week. 5. The prize consists of a 2-hour initial consultation that will take place as a teleconference. The winner will need to complete a new client questionnaire prior to the call. Sharp Thinking will then work on the marketing plan for up to 2 weeks after the call takes place. Sharp Thinking will require information and data on your business in order to develop the marketing plan. 6. Your data will only be stored for the purposes of this promotion and will be destroyed thereafter. 7. The promotion is not open to existing customers, partners or suppliers.