It’s been just over 8 years since I started my business (with a brief spell of PAYE employment in year 5).

There are lots of things I’ve learned over 8 years and they are:

1. Relocating and starting a business with two young kids is bloody hard work

You read all these promising ‘mumpreneur’ articles about how working for yourself you can be flexible and ‘work around the kids’ for a better work-life balance. Absolute b*!$?*ks! I had to go to every single networking event around, sick on my shoulder and all on a shoe string to get known and win some clients.  Then when they start nursery and pre-school you think you’ll have loads of time, but how on earth can you get to a 7am meeting in Sunderland when you need to do the school run? And working from home meant every time I had an important conference call, the only place I was safe was in the laundry room, with my foot up against the door, until the tumble drier started.

2. Always listen to your gut feeling, no matter what 

I’ve always followed what my gut tells me and if it doesn’t feel right, don’t go for it. Running a business should be learning from your mistakes and we’re all going to make mistakes. I took on a shiny new office when I first went into business, thinking lots of my clients would visit, when in fact I was barely there myself!

3. Only work with nice people

This is one of my mantras I follow at all times. When I worked in big agencies, you were often lumped with a client whether you liked each other or not. All our clients at Vicki Stone Marketing are nice people who we choose to work with. Likewise all our suppliers and the designers, copywriters, PR’s a marketers in our collective are lovely people, who are not only brilliant at their job, but we only work with nice people. No egos (I had enough of them and so did the clients when we worked in big ad agencies).

4. Book your holidays and take your time off when you need to

At the end of the year I always book my holiday time in for the following year for time with my sons and hubby. When I first started in business I used to think work all the hours, but now I’ve realised that to be the best at what you do you need to look after yourself too. So regular hols and exercise and making time with friends and family is crucial. And try not to talk about work, and more importantly tell your friends not to ask you about work. Not all my friends work for themselves so they don’t always appreciate a rant about work and they are probably equally as knackered as me when we get to the pub for a natter.

5. Pat yourself on the back from time to time

Remember to celebrate your successes every week, whether it’s a night out or dinging a bell in the office every time you close a sale. Forget focusing on the failures, just learn from your failures and move on quickly.

6. Don’t take on work you can’t deliver

Don’t take on projects you can’t deliver and don’t try to blag the client to win the work, then worry about getting it done. At Vicki Stone Marketing we only take projects on we know we can deliver on and make a difference. If it’s something we can’t do, we’ll refer to one of our associates.

7. Always go back to someone when you said you would

Maybe it’s because I have 20 years of account management experience. Giving good customer service to our clients and keeping them informed on a project (even if it’s just a – we’re just waiting on the printer to confirm this, when we said we would come back to them), means our clients trust us implicitly to deliver. If a project does go wrong (and there might be the odd spanner in the works from time to time), it’s how you fix it that’s important to retaining our strong relationships with clients.

8. Wear your jeans when you can

I’m all for dressing smartly for pitches and I don’t believe in dress down days for the sake of them, but our team are always dressed comfortably. You work creatively when you have your comfy jeans on, or you pitch well when you’re dressed smartly but not buttoned up in a starched suit and killer heels. One client met with me the other day and said “I’m wearing my jeans today because it’s you”.  When prompted further he said “I can be myself a bit more around your lot, rather than wearing a suit.” A lovely compliment from a lovely client.

If you have any tips or advice on what you’ve learned about being in business we’d love to hear from you.