When Sandra Dartnell first approached me about speaking at last nights Creative Bedfordshire networking event a fear of dread filled my stomach. The last time I spoke to an audience was for my dissertation at university, I remember stumbling over my words and my face and neck slowly growing redder and redder until my course mates thought I might pass out! It was not a good experience!
However, a decade on and last night I overcame my fear of public speaking and do you know what? It wasn’t that bad!
Sandra asked myself and Claire from the PlatePeople to speak about our experiences of ‘connecting with your audience.’ My perspective from being a sole trader for 1+ years and Claire’s from only 3 months in.
It was really great to get the opportunity to talk about my life running my own business and it really hit home just how busy i’ve been and how much i’ve learnt about myself and business in the last year.
Some of the top tips that were given by myself and claire:
- Listen to your audience, if they ask you for a product or design; do it! Be as flexible and engaging as possible.
- Be transparent. To be self employed is something to be proud of. Shout about it! Don’t try and hide behind the pretence of being bigger than you are. People like to support small businesses so it often goes in your favour – small but mighty!
- Social Media is a mind field of variations and can be really time consuming. Pick a few channels you are comfortable with and do those well. Better to do a couple well then to do all of them half heartedly.
- Don’t be afraid to ask – that old saying “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” is SO true.
- My business plan has always been “Say YES” In the past year i’ve not turned down a single opportunity, you never know where something might lead you. Even if at first it scares you or doesn’t seem to be your thing – give it a go! If its wrong, you don’t have to do it again. But you tried.
- Be smart on connecting your social media – for example on Etsy you can now update your store and link customer photos to your actual products and then share on twitter for people to directly link back to your shop! GENIUS! (I stole this tip from Claire!)
- Network and make the most of all the fantastic organisations around Bedfordshire: Bedfordshire Business Women, Creative Beds, BCA, Velocity, Wenta… etc etc etc
- No your facts. Approaching year 2 i’ve had to face reality and hire an accountant. You need to know where you stand to know what you’re doing is working.
Any questions do ask. Lots of people asked me about packaging last night! Why struggle when I’ve tried and tested every possible way and courier, so save time and ask!