2019 has been…weird. Some bad, plenty of good, and definitely full of changes and decisions I’m glad I made.
I started the year by deciding that working for one company wasn't the right thing to support my future. I wanted to put family first, and that meant changing things up, a LOT. Fast forward a little while, I packed up our little family nest and said goodbye to London to head back to Yorkshire, where my heart feels at home, and ultimately, where I want to raise my family.
From then on, I found myself really inspired. I was surrounded by like-minded female business owners and motivation was everywhere. So much so, that I got a little side-tracked and fell into the habit of making Ella St Comms as big and as best as it could be - but those are two separate things.
I had a crazy first quarter, working around the clock to fulfil the contracts I'd won, and felt so lucky for a strong return to client work. I smashed through a lot of goals and felt really proud, but something wasn't quite right. I loved what I'd achieved, but it still wasn't the family life I was after, so I took stock of what was important, reduced my days and started being more selective over who I worked with.
Now, my clients are people I love supporting, and their businesses are incredibly important to me. I've accepted (for now 😉) that making my fortune and buying a yacht (jokes, but there is a marina in the city centre, so who knows!), can take a back seat. I'm working the days I want to work, making work fit around family, and seeing both aspects of my life balance in a lovely way for the first time.
I haven't got everything sussed just yet, there's still a lot of ambition I need to address for 2020 and how everything will fit in, but overall, I love where Ella St Comms has taken me.
It’s easy to make 2020 a year for big aims and ambitions, but taking stock of what’s important needs to be prioritised. I’ve got a lot of ideas for my business, all of which I’d love to explore at some point, including community-focused projects and more work promoting women in business, but before we get there I want to highlight my favourite parts of 2019. Here’s that:
- Learning to freelance again. Freelancing in 2019 is very different to when I started back in 2014. Tech has changed so much that it’s completely reinvented how I work and what I do. Building up the confidence to arrange my first client consultations via video link was a massive learning curve – I actually enjoy them now! Watching my first one back and being able to give myself feedback was so useful. I’d be really interested to hear how tech has improved the way others work too.
- Letting things go. Whether or not to stay in London was such a tough decision, but one that felt right as soon as I’d made it. Given that the point above made it clear location isn’t important when it comes to work anymore, and the number of clients I’ve had since that champion remote working, it seems like a no brainer now. Saying that, there’s a certain energy to the city that definitely helped get Ella St Comms off the ground, and I’ll always appreciate having that.
- Working on my own comms. I’ve always taken the approach of considering yourself to be one of your own clients, and put time aside to do the same work for myself that I do for others. As a result, I’ve been featured in a number of publications I’m really happy to put my name to this year, including the Sunday Times, and a guest on BBC Radio 4, where I talked about my real life experience and expertise in the marketing industry. I’d had about two hours’ sleep the night before and felt like a zombie, but sitting there watching the red ‘live’ light flick on while willing my brain to work pinpointed everything freelance parents put their energy into to make the balance work.
- My clients! I said earlier that I went from saying yes to everything to really focusing on the types of businesses I wanted to work with, and what I have as a result is a collection of brands I’m supporting that I feel really invested in and feel incredibly lucky to be trusted to help them.
- Denying the everyday. I’ve worked some very long weeks this year, and caught myself on too many occasions thinking, ‘this isn’t the balance that I’m supposed to be achieving’, but there’s a flip side. In August I took the plunge and booked a trip I never would have been able to say yes to in an employed role. I’m taking full advantage of being in charge and am taking four weeks off in January to travel with my family. I still sort of cringe, it sounds such a prestigious thing to do, but I’m trying to remember that I’ve earned it. Plenty of people won’t get opportunities like this, but plenty of people also switch off from work at 5pm. I don’t, and I’m simply taking my time in lieu! Why? Because when I chose to run a business, I did so partly because the thought of a 9-5 existence, or career life bored the hell out of me. I’m in control of how I work now, and I’m shaking it up to suit me.
Look out soon for my next post on what I’m looking ahead to in 2020, and get in touch to tell me how you’re looking back on the year.