Last year I was lucky enough to win a table at the Country Living Pop up Market, a one-day event that side lines their spectacular Spring Fair. They had a room full of new businesses, each given a table to showcase their creations for free. I arrived nervous and new having set up my online shop just weeks before. It was the first time I was physically standing next to my products trying to sell them so it was kind of a big deal.
The difference one year can make is incredible, this year I was delighted and honored to be invited back to the pop up market with my latest knitted goodies and even more amazing than that, I was asked to speak on a panel along with other small business owners to discuss how we all managed to launch our businesses. I sat alongside Catherine Piddington, founder of Piddington Jam (the most delicious jam in the world) and Claire Howeson, the designer and founder of Penmayne of London (the most fabulous hats in the world!) and we talked for an hour about our experiences, giving as many tips and as much advice as we could think of to help the entrepreneurs starting out.
Once the talk was over (and my nerves calmed to a normal level) the rest of the day when by in a flurry of chatter and smiles until 5pm when me and my lovely helper (& other half) made our way home in a happy little bubble. It wasn't until afterwards that it occurred to me what a huge difference it was to the year before. I feel like everything has changed. My work, my attitude, my confidence and my life. Last year I was a scared little thing, with wide eyes and a clueless feeling. The clueless feeling may not have gone completely, I don't know if it ever really goes, but this year I was far less scared, far more confident and although I'm still making it all up as I go along, I'm completely immersed in this small business life and I feel like I vaguely know what I'm doing.
It's funny how a year can go by in a flash and yet in that flash, so much can change, inside and out. You can learn, grow and almost become a different person, hopefully a happier, more confident person! How exciting to stop and look back at what you've achieved and how you've grown as a person and/or business. I now look back at my table from last year's Pop Up Market and feel it looks tragically anemic but that's OK, because it's all part of the process. At the time I was so bloody proud of that table and ultimately that's what matters isn't it?!
It really is amazing what can happen when you step outside your comfort zone and give yourself a year.