Four years ago today, I sat at my makeshift desk (a garden table in the back room of our work-in-progress canal boat) and started work. It was my first day of self-employment and the day my (now) husband and I set ‘sail’ from London to the West Midlands to start a new phase in our lives.
For two weeks, I worked as my husband drove Portobello up the Thames, along the Kennett and Avon canal and into Bristol. I tried to continue as we set off up the Severn Estuary in choppy waters, but when our makeshift wardrobe fell onto the bed where I was sat, I decided it was time to take a break. It wasn’t until we got to Gloucester that I got a proper desk and a chair. And it wasn’t until a few months ago that those temporary pieces of furniture were upgraded, as we finally finished building our beautiful watery home.
One thing I have learnt over the years as a business owner is that I don’t feel like a proper business owner at all. I hear others talking about their long-term business goals – I’ve got a vision and some things I want to do, but no beautifully thought out business plan. I see business social media feeds that neatly follow the latest algorithm-beating advice – I’m much more interested in promoting behaviour change campaigns than myself. I read articles about the secrets to success – things like prioritising yourself and not taking life too seriously are rarely on there. But how are they defining success anyway? They’re usually focused on wealth and influence. But another thing I’ve learnt on this journey is that success is personal, which means it can be whatever you want it to be.
For me, success is earning enough money and having enough time to do the things that make me happy – horseriding, eating out, camping. It’s about being excited to return to work after a weekend or a holiday. It’s about getting to work with people that inspire and challenge me. It’s about working on projects that push me to my professional limits and make a difference to people and planet.
It’s impossible to predict what will happen over the coming months and how the world will recover from the coronavirus pandemic. I’m a big fan of the Latin proverb, “Fortune favours the brave.” So, whatever happens, I’ll still be bravely working towards the life I want to live. If I’ve done only that by this time next year, I’ll be toasting my success once more.
Director, Colvine Communications