Celebrating 20 years of being in business

Introduction

🧳 In July 2003 I left my safe, corporate job.
💒 I applied the finishing touches to my wedding arrangements.
👩🏻‍💻 I set up ‘Atom Digital Design’ a freelance web design business.
👰🏻 A month later I got married and went on honeymoon to the Caribbean.
🥳 6 months later I turned 30.

Talk about big, life-changing moments packed into a short space of time.

Atom digital design

2003 original branding 🤣

THAT’S LIFE

But that’s life, right? A series of decisions and actions that change the trajectory of your life.

And so this year to realise that I have been in business (different iterations) for 20 years seems momentous and worth celebrating. Because running a business isn’t always easy. At the end of the day, the buck stops with you.

For some reason, I have always been OK with change. I always knew it was coming, even from an early age. That said, some change isn’t easy…

REFLECTING ON MY BUSINESS JOURNEY

What has been particularly interesting to reflect on over this time is the journey of my business over 20 years:

#1 I was doing the doing – in those days I was very much deep in project work, helping my clients, working very long hours and delivering huge, technical website projects.

#2 I started to outsource – to get a bit more time back and be able to grow the business I brought in some outside expertise by outsourcing some things. I was still very much project managing and steering.

#2 I grew a team – in order to scale further I took on fancy offices and grew a team. In those days having an office was seen as reputable. But you swap one set of problems for another. I had responsibility and overhead. Project management and managing people continued and burnout happened. The 2009 recession hit and everything changed and simplified.

There have been times during the last decade when I thought I should just grow up and get a proper job.

But the thought of helping someone else build their business and dream and being at their beck and call didn’t seem so appealing. And in those days the online tools were not as sophisticated and accessible as they are now.

networking

Networking events and juggling working from home

SO, I PRESSED ON

This was particularly hard when in 2015 I got divorced and had to sell the family home, move house, continue to run the business and bring up my four-year-old daughter.

Life got in the way. Shit hit the fan. It was tough.

Again the idea of getting a secure job seemed appealing. But I had come so far and didn’t want to give up the relative freedom I had created.

I had always wanted to be able to help more businesses. I thought I knew what a “successful business” looked like. But then when I factored in my strengths and weaknesses I realised I needed a rethink.

After the pandemic, I made a complete u-turn and changed direction. I started to share my knowledge of web design, web development, automation, content marketing, content creation, blogging and SEO. 

AND I LOVE IT!

Now I have an online education business and I get to help multiple businesses at once. I am able to maximise on the tech, automation and online tools readily available to keep my business small and lean. 

Eleanor and I

Celebrating the change of direction to build an online business.

vast knowledge

It took me a while to realise that what I knew was vast.

Not least because I am good at both the creative and technical side of digital marketing. 

And I have both the knowledge and implementation know-how to help small service businesses learn and execute digital marketing into their businesses.

Over the past 20 years, I have learned so much about myself. My abilities, capabilities and resilience. And now I am able to share my knowledge in a way that helps multiple businesses at once but also to avoid burn out!

knowledge

my friend took me to task

Recently I celebrated with a friend at an awards ceremony. 

I’d been to an awards ceremony 15 years before with a dental client. They won the best dental website created by me! I enjoyed celebrating with them.

It dawned on me that I had never gone up for an award for my business. In all those years it just never occurred to me. Plus I never seemed to have the time to entertain the idea.

So when I was sharing all of this with my friend and berating myself for not feeling like I should be further forward in my business, she took me to task:

 

  • She reminded me of my journey.
  • The blood, sweat and tears.
  • The highs and the lows.
  • Being a single mum.
  • Being a one-income household and paying my mortgage solo.
  • The sheer perseverance.
  • The not burning out again so I could be a good mum.
  • And multiple other family changes that have impacted my support network.
awards

You’ve got to be in it to win it!

Oh, the irony

Sharing vulnerability is important in business.

I encourage my members to share their stories, their journey, how they got here and their purpose and passion. Yet it’s hard to write this and share mine. But I knew that in order to celebrate my 20 years, I needed to share the journey.

HELPING MORE BUSINESSES AT ONCE

Now I am in a position where I am able to scale my offers so that I help more businesses at once.

I have a signature programme that allows me to help businesses learn the tech and strategy. I am making a difference.

So when she put it like that I started to realise how proud I should be.

Website Traffic + Lead Generator logo

My signature programme

MY PURPOSE

Something profound occurred to me.

My business has provided a purpose beyond just being a mum, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. My business has got me through some tough times. Has kept me focussed and strong and given me fulfilment. So here’s to 20 years of being in business.

And yes, next year I turn 50 and I am exactly where I should be right now.

love my members

Fulfilling my purpose and helping other small businesses to thrive.

Conclusion

With your business remember the reason you set it up, your why and reflect on your accomplishments. They need to be celebrated and shared. Especially when times become tough. I would love to know how long you have been in business and what your learnings are.

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Natalie Alsop is a Content Marketing Strategist and founder of Engaging Content. She teaches, enables and consults small businesses on how to harness search strategies into their daily marketing. A self-confessed lazy marketer, Natalie aims to educate how your website, when set up correctly, can bring the right traffic to your website and convert this into quality clients.

Natalie Alsop