A year ago, I said goodbye to my solid job in the City and set out on a journey to find my passion and start my own business. I remember writing a post about quitting my job and feeling filled with fear. What would people think? Would people send it around and snigger at my stupidity? What if I failed? I’d put myself out there, I’d put my cards on the table and it was terrifying.
And yet here I am a year later.
I have cried- tears of joy, tears of utter despair and most often, tears of sheer exhaustion. So has it been worth it? And what, if anything, have I learnt over the past year?
Determination comes in all forms
The past year has come with so many incredible highs, but also crushing lows – such as losing a manufacturer and running out of money. I heard so much about the ‘entrepreneurial mindset’ that I thought I had to be positive constantly. I saw it as weakness when I felt crushed and saw it as a sign I wasn’t determined enough.
What I’ve come to realise is that determination isn’t just pasting a smile on your face and endless positivity. It’s being human, having doubts, having moments of crying on the floor… but carrying on despite this. It’s continuing to take steps forward, no matter how small, when you feel like all the odds are stacked against you. It’s walking into the unknown, feeling scared, but following the path regardless. Determination comes in all forms and when I look back I’m so proud of all those moments I showed my own unique form of it.
Celebrate the wins!
Sounds simple enough right? In fact, it sounds like the natural reaction- to celebrate good news? The problem is that when you’re caught up in running a start-up, trying to push forward constantly, those wins get lost in the next goal. I remember thinking I would be over the moon when I got our first retailer. Instead, I was too focused on what came next and on getting our next retailer. I was so caught up in this that when people congratulated me, I was baffled as to what they were celebrating! It’s too easy to get lost in everything that’s happening and forget to poke your head out to celebrate those achievements, but it’s really important to do so.
Take a break
In addition to starting CHAM, I’ve been working on a freelance basis to support myself financially this year. This means that when I’m not working, I’m not earning and as those earnings aren’t that huge to begin with, there have been weeks I have found myself bouncing from job to job, without a moments rest or any proper sleep. This, unsurprisingly, lead to me burning out and getting ill. Again.. and again… and again. It’s so easy when you’re starting a business, or working freelance to never leave any time for a break but it’s so important. When I take a break, I look after myself, so my body can handle the pressure I then put it under. When I take a break, I come back to my work with a fresh mind, and it makes me better equipped to create solutions. It’s admittedly something I’m still working on, but I’m actively trying to get there with it.
Uncover your fears
Discovering that fear lies behind so many of people’s decisions in life (including my own) has been one of the biggest revelations. I’ve found myself saying no to projects, or not chasing after things out of fear- that I won’t have time, that I’m not capable enough… the list goes on. Have I conquered all these fears? No. But by knowing what lies behind the decisions I’m making, it makes it much easier to move beyond the fear. I consciously hold myself accountable to undertake tasks I’m scared of, knowing that once I conquer those fears I will move to the next level. A small way to bring this into your life instantly is to do one thing every day that scares you- send that email, write that blog post or have that conversation you’ve been avoiding.
Everything happens when it happens
A month after I quit my job, a prominent chain of health stores told me they wanted to put CHAM in all their shops. WOW. Do you know how long it took for this to actually happen? A year. A year of hard work, of pushing, of putting energy out, not knowing if anything would come back. Yes, there was other small wins in this time, but there was also plenty of occasions when I lay there, exhausted, wondering why the hell I was making so much effort, when I had no guarantee it would lead to anything.
It did- it just took time.
Now when I’m scared that all this energy and hard work is going into nothing, I remember that all actions have a reaction. All that energy you put into your project, your work, or whatever it is, comes back to you with a reaction. It may be this year, it may be next year, or in twenty years. But just knowing it will come back eventually calms me in those moments of doubts.
Freedom is my goal
I’ve had a week where my anxiety has been bad. I find the change into winter always tricky and this year is no exception- I’m feeling emotional and out of sorts. So I’ve come with Jake on a work trip, and I’m writing this from the cafe in a gorgeous hotel set within beautiful grounds (Penny Hill Park).
I can’t put into words how grateful I am for the freedom that came with changing my job- I can work from anywhere the majority of the time and I’m incredibly lucky to be able to say that. It also means that when I’m not feeling great, I can adapt my work around this. Plus I get to take my dog to the office!
It has also opened my eyes to what I treasure most in life- freedom is definitely something I crave and what’s important to me. I would love to be able to live in different cities across the world whilst working.
Support is everything
I couldn’t have made these changes in my life without support. I’m grateful for those incredible people in my life, who didn’t laugh or try and push fear onto me, who have made sure I celebrate the wins, who have bought jars of CHAM and believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. The world is full of love when you open your eyes to it. I would love to be able to support others on their journey and I always go out of my way to try and help people in the early stages of a food start up.
Take it one day at a time
There have been many days when I thought I couldn’t continue, where I thought that I needed to give up and look for a full time role. In those times I just take it one day at a time- I just look to survive the week or the month and go from there. Every time I’ve come close to quitting something has shown up to stop me, to help me continue. So here’s to the next year. Here’s to hoping I can write another update, another year later.
And here’s to always being on an adventure…