When I wrote my business plan I certainly didn’t expect to be off work with a broken wrist for 2 months in my first year! I did it in style, two breaks and a fracture. My right wrist and one very heavy cast. A designers worst nightmare!!!
My clients have been incredibly understanding. I’d been able to a few things and others I’d been able to delay. I was limited to what I could do and for how long. Just the sheer weight of my first cast had my back and shoulders in knots. I had swap to using a mouse in my left and clicking short cuts with my right. I was hard to spend 2 hours painfully doing something with lots of breaks and then only be able to invoice for 30 mins, the time it would normally take me. It did mean I kept those clients that needed things urgently.
To my delight I received a thank you card and these fabulous notebooks in the post from a client I’d designed a flyer for.
Time to reflect
On the whole I took this as a time to reflect on my first year in business.
What direction did I want the business to go in? What worked? What didn’t? What did I enjoy the most or the least? What is my niche?
I also used it as time catch up on all those things I hadn’t had time to do. Things that would feed into my business but that didn’t pay the bills directly. I did my tax return too!
Here's a snap shot of my first year in businesses.
Time to experiment and learn
I was challenged to think of new ways to be creative. I couldn’t linocut, draw very well or make things. I really needed an outlet for my creativity. Hawthorns Printmaking Supplies kindly lent me a printing press, so that I could play with new techniques. I created a sketch book full of ideas that I could look back at an incorporate into my designs in the future.
I also got to grips with iMovie, which I used to create the above video.
Time to slow down
I didn’t value this at first. Friends kept saying "It’ll be good for you to slow down". I was puzzled. I’m happy as I am. I live a very full life with lots of hobbies and interests, I rarely sit still unless it’s for mediation or yoga.
At first walking rather than cycling was frustrating. Then I started to enjoy it, finding new routes and jotting ideas down as I went. I also met some very interesting people along the way.
Time to network
I had time to develop and build on relationships with people I’d met on networking events, as well as meet new contacts. I’ve focused on the types of companies I’d like to work with and gone to events they’ve been at. Approaching new people is a challenge but I had a great response to my graphic design work and have some really positive leads.
As one example, I met Gayle from Red Tree Writing for coffee. We had mutual friends and very similar values and ethics. I’m delighted to say that we have been able to work together on the copy for the new Beetle Bank Open Farm leaflet I’ve just finished. It’s just gone to print, so I’ll be sharing this soon.
I also had lots of ideas buzzing around in my head, so this was the perfect time to brainstorm ideas with a business I collaborate with. Watch this space!
Asking for help
I’m very independent and currently live on my own. This was my biggest challenge. I could only lift things with one hand. I wanted to finish my studio and things in my garden. Friends and family where incredibly supportive, inviting me round for tea or bringing delicious food parcels. I didn’t want to be a pain. I like to think I’m a very giving person and so asking for help was a really hard.
In many ways it’s the same in business. I’d agonise over writing the copy for my website, then my friend Helen from Helen King Writes offered to trade services. What a relief! You really can’t be good at everything. She has a logo she loves and I have copy that says what I was trying to say but in a more effective way.
Back on track
The cast came off 10 days ago. My specialist handed me a sheet of exercise to do. I asked if I need to come to physio. "No", she said, "as long as you do these, and you seem someone that is very determined, you’ll be on the mend quickly".
I must thank everyone at Inverness and York hospital for their care and professionalism. The scaphoid bone is a tricky one to heal and the long term effects of it not healing properly would have effected the rest of my design career. Adding to that, the kindness of everyone that helped me in Scotland really put my faith back in human nature.
I’m slowly getting movement back. Certainly enough to be back working fully, which is quite a relief. So I have to admit I’m back at full speed, both with my graphic design clients and preparing for my up an coming printmaking exhibitions.
So if you know of a new start up business, one that is looking to rebrand or someone that needs design support with their marketing materials please pass on my details.