10 things I have learned in my first year

Today is my first birthday.

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A little over a year ago I left the constraints of a corporate job with very little flexibility for growth and a work ethic more aligned to an outdated school system as opposed to an innovative company.

With trepidation and a lot of blank spaces in my new business plan, I started my own nutrition consultancy.

On the 6th August 2014 FoodBytes was born.

As I blow out my candles on my digital birthday cake, I look back on the 10 key things I have learned since starting my own business.

1) Be passionate about the value you offer

When I hear other people countdown the days till the working week is over, it makes me realise how fortunate I am that I love what I do. When I meet with potential clients, I don’t feel I have to try conjure up the information they want to hear, but rather I aim to have a conversation about nutrition and digital topics that I am passionate about. I never want to be seen to be asking for the deal, but rather to demonstrate the true value I can add.

2) The Melbourne SkyBus is a great mode of transport to the airport

For those that are thinking of leaving the comfort of a well-paid corporate job, remember that the benefits and hidden components of your regular salary get left behind too. Without the easy access of a corporate AMEX to pay for taxis and many other expenses, I have discovered many ways of running my business more cost effectively.

3) A cup of coffee is a great investment

Time is the most valuable resource for everyone. I have lost count of the number of coffee meetings I have had in the last year, some more valuable than others. But almost all of them have resulted in expanding my networks of colleagues, collaborators and clients. If you give someone your time, I believe it will ultimately pay you back in more ways than the $3,50 worth of coffee.

4) Forget the food , it’s all about good wi-fi

I am a walking dictionary of the best local Melbourne cafes and restaurants with a good wi-fi connection. My office is wherever my laptop and a wifi connection happens to be located together and this is an essential requirement to efficiently and effectively getting the job done in today’s busy world.

5) The school day is actually very very short

By the time I do school drop off and pick up, there are very few hours left in the day. Whilst work breaks are good, distractions are not. Over the past year I have become better at managing distractions and making sure I get as much done in the shortest time possible.

6) You never know when you will need to cross a bridge

That old cliche “never burn your bridges” can apply in any work situation, but especially when one is a sole trader relying on word of mouth referrals. My business (and personal) relationships are without a doubt the most valuable asset to my business. I believe that trust, sincerity and respect are key elements of building strong  relationships and all my work to date has resulted from relationships that have developed over long periods of time.

7) I love the global economy!

My website was developed in the Philippines, my business logo designed in Bulgaria and my podcast voice overs recorded in the US. Anyone can get anything designed or developed (usually for a a fraction of the local cost) and the best part, it doesn’t need to take months and months to get to market, which is what often happens in large national conglomerates.

8) A little fish can still be recognised in a big pond

Let’s face it, the world is a competitive place. I knew this when starting FoodBytes and I wanted to make sure I could create a unique offering for myself in a world where there is information overload and everyone is trying to get their piece of the pie. Reputation is everything and I continue to work at defining my unique benefit that I bring to the world of online nutrition marketing.

9) It’s ok to say no

This is something that continues to be a challenge for me. I have invested in areas of my business over the past year that have not returned a positive investment and I am learning what types of requests for my time and service to turn down. Just because someone asks me to do something, doesn’t mean I have to say yes.

10) There is no greater reward in life than spending a big chunk of my working week with my kids

Every day of the week I get to spend much more time with my children than was ever possible in my previous job. I never get tired of watching the smile appear on their face (and mine) as they spot me amongst the crowd of parents at school pick up time and they run into my arms. I have become a podcast addict as I do the groundhog school car run every single day (another way I learned to maximise my time by learning something new while I drive).

Whilst there are times when I need to use the babysitter TV more than I would like in order to get some work completed, or I sit with my laptop on my lap (literally) at the school gate pushing out some work during a free 20 minute gap, the privilege and opportunity of being present in their every day lives as I watch them grow is priceless.

The years are disappearing way too quickly and before I know it they won’t run into my arms just as much.

When that time happens, I will dig deep into my memory bank and remember the Tuesday afternoons I spent swimming with them, the puzzles completed in the classroom before school and the reading practise I could help with before they became too tired at night.

For all the money in the world or the highest rungs of the corporate career ladder, this is without a doubt the best birthday present I could ever wish for as a one year old.

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