My ‘Being Self Employed’ Journal #6 ~ Reflecting on Success, Negativity & Moving Forward…

Good afternoon Saturday people.  It's been a while since I wrote a reflective, personal post, so today I wanted to share with you a little about some of the things that have been occupying my mind of late, helping me drive my business forward and most certainly steering my sanity.  Love My Dress isn't just about beautiful wedding inspiration after all, it has become a place where I can chronicle my journey into self employment and my life as a Mother and Wife.

It has been a crazy, but wonderful year so far for my family, my business and for me. I feel I've accomplished so many things {more on that in a bit} whilst proving to myself that I can still be a good, Mother and Wife – well, most of the time. I have been soaking up knew knowledge and experiences like an eager child at School, relishing new opportunities as they fall my way to network, make new friends, develop my brand and refine my ability to be a successful business woman.  I never stop learning. I never want to.

Many of the opportunities and experiences that have come my way during this time have pushed me right out of my comfort zone {speaking at a national conferences? yikes!}.  Some have caused me anxiety and sleepless nights, whilst others have sent my personal confidence and sense of achievement soaring.

Today I'd like to reflect on some of the business and indeed personal lessons I have learned in my short time of being a full time wedding blogger.  It's kind of cathartic for me to write it all out and read it back to myself – it helps me to understand the mistakes I have made, value the lessons I have learned, and appreciate just how much I have achieved.  I also hope my ramblings will be of help to others starting out in business.

Love My Dress Wedding Blog – Image Source


Accepting I Need Help!

I eagerly threw myself into the role of managing my business all by myself and for a while, it was absolutely brilliant. I loved the sense of satisfaction of getting all my invoices out, writing blog posts up in advance, researching, planning, networking, checking my stats, keeping abreast of my search engine positioning and general ranking, working on my brand design, creating a working environment and office space etc etc. But as my business has grown over the past two years, the personal resources I have available to dedicate to it have become more and more limited. And a few months ago, it began to feel like a real up-hill struggle.

Ever come to the end of your day and felt you've spent the past 12 hours like you've been wading in treacle – achieving absolutely nothing? Yup. That was me.  It was time to consider outsourcing, and delegating some of my work.

I will admit now, the thought of handing over any aspect of my beloved business for someone else to be responsible for has up to now filled me with feeeeeeear.  How could someone who isn't me, who doesn't live, sleep, eat and breath Love My Dress, possibly be as good as me at managing my business?  This has been one huge mental hurdle I have had to overcome in order to secure my business and move forward.



Two months ago, I examined my budget and set funds aside to cover support. I finally dipped my toe into the world of delegation and admin assistance last month, and whilst things are still very new, I can honestly say it has been the very best business decision I have made so far. 

I initially explored the idea of having a Virtual PA – but the fees ranged from £20-£25/hour.  That's not to say they are not worth every single penny, but for now, I'm going to see how things go using a support service that isn't quite as expensive and a lot more flexible {ie, simply charges by the hour with no minumum number of hours}.  Flexibility for me is key right now; I'm not keen to sign up to any fixed amount of hours per month – this would be a bad business decision whilst I'm unsure just yet exactly how much support I do need.

The other thing I have done is advertise for an Intern to assist me in producing content for the blog and promoting the Love My Dress brand. I take this opportunity really very seriously {I have a legal agreement at hand for working with Interns and everything!} and I genuinely want this to be an opportunity for my Intern, not just for me.  Anyone interested in applying for the Internship by the way can do so here.

One of the best things I did, after I realised I needed help, was talk to my Husband about it.  We both sat and talked long and hard about sharing our responsibilities of parenting and how we can best support each other personally {we are both self employed}.  My Husband's work is seasonal and tends to fall off during Winter – so one decision we have made together is that Mr LMD will be joining me in my office for two days a week from here on.  I am really excited about this but nervous too – it's one thing living with someone you love, it's a whole other ball game working with them.  At least I'll feel a little less isolated at times mind 🙂

Do you have experience of working with your spouse or partner? I'd love to hear how it works for you. 


Dealing with the feeling of isolation…

 My job brings me many wonderful opportunities to network and I have an amazing support system in place both on and offline.  But I'm not going to deny it folks, it can be pretty tough at times working for yourself from home.  I miss that water-cooler chit-chat and those office nights out!   At times, I can find myself feeling empty and unsure of what way to turn in a crisis, or if I'm having a sad day.  If you experience a sense of isolation in your business, I'd say, try to stay strong and just work through it.  It won't last – I have come to figure that periods of feeling like I am completely on my own and detached from the real world is rather normal when you are self-employed and work from home!   And you know what? It's OK.   After all, I could be stuck in a job I don't enjoy surrounded by people I really didn't want to be working with.  And I sure know which I'd rather have.

Having said that, making friends, colleagues and forming networking links is as important in my business as it is in any other… 

Networking and Making Friends…

 My biggest business expense is on travel {I live in the North East of England and travel to London at least once a month – often two or three times}.  Getting myself 'out there' to network with those in the wedding industry – particularly in London, has been one of the best things I have done so far for my business.  Apart from introducing me to a whole host of people I have since collaborated with and made life long friends with – it has helped me feel part of a community of small business owners, many of whom have been or are going through all the same experiences and emotions that I do as a new business owner; self doubt, isolation, constant daily pressure to 'do a good job' and earn a good income and up the bar when it comes to your competitors  It's great to exchange your personal experiences with others – I have been inspired by so many amazing people that had it not been for my efforts in networking, I would never have met.

In August this year, I hosted my first ever major UK wedding industry networking event. It was a complete triumph and I am very proud of everyone who was involved.  I still hear great stories either at networking events or through online social networking – of people who are now working together because they met at the Love My Dress Summer Soiree, and that makes me so very happy 🙂 The whole event, after all, was rather an altruistic attempt at saying 'thank you' to an industry that has totally transformed my life! {yes, most days I really do now leap out of bed ready to embrace my working day}.    It was wonderful evening of many opportunities and something I'm so pleased I was able to achieve.


Accepting and dealing with my character flaws…

In handing in my notice earlier this year, I embarked on a new life journey and entered a new working environment that thankfully, for most of the time, is the most amazing, wonderful, creative place to find myself a part of – but that at times can also be hostile and unfriendly.  Learning to deal with this has been one of the toughest challenges for me yet.  I am sure it is the same in any business environment, but learning to navigate your way through hostile waters as a new business owner can at best be daunting – and at worst, downright soul destroying.

I'll be honest with you. I have always wanted to be liked. Haven't you? Doesn't everyone? I always wanted to be a part of the popular girly clique at School, and hang out with the cool kids as a teenager. As I've entered my thirties and become a Mother and Wife, I've felt less of a need to be in with the in-crowd – and feel content to do things my own way, but at my core there is still a desire to be 'accepted'.

Becoming a business owner has, for me, exposed this 'need' as a character flaw and weakness – it has cast light on my personal strengths and weaknesses and forced me to examine the person I am and how these characteristics are going to help me take my business forward.  And that's a good thing.  Accepting my personal limitations and character flaws has helped me understand that I won't ever and don't ever need to be liked by everyone.   I will admit it's taken a little while for me to cotton on to this one and it's been an oftentimes confusing and upsetting journey. 

Image Source

be real image

What's more important to me these days, than being accepted or liked or part of any industry clique, is that I throw myself into my own business, knowing that I am crafting something that is appreciated by, and inspires others.   These days, instead of worrying about who said this or that, I would rather focus on conducting myself and managing my business in a way I can say that I am proud of – by being kind and courteous to everyone I meet, by being professional and reliable, by reciprocating support and love when others show it to me, by learning to face my fears and say sorry when I know I've got it wrong, and by greeting those who may criticise me with nothing but a smile and an olive branch. 

Have you ever experienced hostility in business and if so, how did you deal with it?


Dealing with negativity…

 I have discovered this year that when you achieve success in business, there are forces out there who may take pleasure in attempting to discredit you.  It may be a competitor or it may not, but the only way to deal with these forces is to not let them get in to your head.   Once you let them inside your head, you are giving them power.  And the moment you let that happen, you are entering into a whole lotta tricky waters that will be very difficult to navigate your way out of.  Ignore them and they become powerless.

In order to dis-empower such negative forces, you must stay focused and make a positive, conscious decision to disregard anything being said or done in an atempt to hurt you.  This can be a real challenge {trust me, I've been there}, so if you are finding it difficult, make an effort to surround yourself with positive influences; friends, family and business colleagues who love, understand and want to support you.  Ultimately, you will have to draw on your own strength to get you through any negative situation that is impinged upon you by others, and this can be really hard, but once you realise that it is you that is in control of the situation, you realise that no one can discredit your hard work if you don't let them.  And those that try to, only really ever discredit themselves.

My Husband taught me that I have the power to decide if I want to let these people upset and hurt me.  I choose not to

Don't let negativity in to your business/working life. Don't get drawn into feuds that are nothing to do with you. Don't burn bridges that you might want to cross again in the future.

How do you deal with negativity from others?


Celebrating Success…

In evaluating strengths, weaknesses and in planning {or muddying} your way forward, it is so vital to find time to celebrate your successes.  I have found that reflecting on my personal and business successes is a great way of reinstalling my faith at times I may be doubting myself.  I recently wrote out this list and pinned it to the fridge in the kitchen:-

Reasons to celebrate success:- 

*  180,000+ unique visitors from all around the world (375,000 page hits)
*  Freelance magazine features
*  Pulling off my first major industry networking event
Speaking publicy
*  Accepting an invitation to be a panel member for the 2012 UK Wedding Industry Awards
*  Surviving my first six months as a 100% fully fledged self employed business owner
Seeing my baby girl turn one
*  Returning from my eldest Daughter's parents evening, brimming with pride {and grinning from ear to ear!}
*  Being asked by Oxfam to partner with them on a big new campaign {more on that soon!}
*  Secret projects I'm working on for 2012 and beyond {more on that soon too!}
*  Lovely new friends
*  Getting to grips with very basic photography skills {my eldest Daughter below, taken by me}


It's sure been a busy year!

Do you take time out to regularly reflect on and appreciate your achievements?


Knowing which projects to pull out of and which to invest in…

With so much going on, I have had to sit down and take serious stock of what is happening with my business. I have arrived at where I am today without the aide of any business plan, or financial forecasting or anything like that.  My success has been down to a lot of luck and a whole lot more hard work and many many late nights. 

Once or twice I have had to work all night, literally, to get on top of things.  But this has left me feeling completely exhausted and really ends up affecting my levels of productivity.  I accepted of late that something, or some things had to give, if I was going to be able to run my own business, and have a life at the same time {and energy to actually live and enjoy it}. 

Some projects had to be dropped so that I could focus on investing a serious amount of energy and love into the others.  Regrettably, this means I won't be hosting another 'Summer Soiree' next year – a decision I made only this week infact.  It makes me sad, especially as expectations have been raised,  but I have to consider my own best personal and business interests from here on if I am going to survive this adventure that is being self-employed, and remaining competitive and viable as a brand.

I would strongly advise anyone who is feeling they are spreading themselves a little too thin, to take time out to evaluate the various projects they are involved in and make decisions {which may be tough} about what needs to go and what truly deserves the investment.

Have you ever had to evaluate your business commitments to identify which projects might need to be discarded?


Scheduling is key!

Scheduling – If there is one golden business rule I have come to learn in the past twelve months, it is that scheduling is key!  I am a working mother of two children with my own developing business. I simply cannot just muddy my way through my days hoping I'll get things accomplished. I've been there and done that and it is not a viable option long term.  Neither does it make for a happy home or wedding blogger!

I literally cannot function or manage my time effectively these days without scheduling everything – and I mean everything; you want to ring me? Then I need to know when you're going to make that call!

Sometimes life throws a curve ball at you and the schedule goes a wee bit out of the window – like this week for example – a combination of school strikes, a very sick baby and lack of usual child care has thrown my systems in to disarray, but having a schedule there in the first place means I have been fairly rapidly able to get back on track.  I also have an amazing admin angel who has devised a brand spanking new scheduling spreadsheet for me {that we're going to share access to on Google Docs} and I can't wait to get populating those cells!  hehe 🙂



2011 has been an extraordinary year for me.  I have floundered in parts, excelled in others, but overall, I feel I have positioned myself well to move into 2012 in both a business and personal growth sense.

Here is a brief roundup of things I have learned through my personal reflection:-

  I need to stop trying to fit in with the clique and be myself

  I am proud of myself and what I have achieved

  It's OK to make mistakes in business – this is how you learn

  Scheduling is key!

  Networking in real life is vital to business success

   Evaluating what can be dropped from a busy schedule is vital to ensure the success of key ongoing projects

♥   Aim to behave impeccably in all business dealings.  If you cock-up – say sorry and try to make amends. Be nice to everyone. Accept defeat graciously – but don't waste time feeling bad. Move on and channel your energies into positive business growth.

  You get out what you put in. If you work hard, you will eventually be rewarded

♥   Surround yourself with positive influences – this is an old business trick but one I cannot rave about enough.  When I'm having any moments of self doubt, I'll contact one of my friends who I know cares or go for a hug with my husband or sound off to my Mum – God bless her.


♥   ♥   ♥


It would be good to get some feedback on this post.  I'd love to hear from those of your already in business as well as any budding entrepreneurs.

You can read more personal and business reflections here, and contribute to more discussion posts here.

I hope you all have a lovely Saturday – we're off to get our Christmas tree today. Let the festivities begin!! 😉

Annabel xXx


Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Founder of Love My Dress. Passionate Podcaster and Editor. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters and menagerie of furry hounds. She loves photography, meditation, walking, being outdoors and star gazing. She is fierce when it comes to championing talent within the wedding industry and when she's not working on Love My Dress, she supports her husband Philip in the running of the family's sustainable flower farm and floral design business, Moonwind Flowers. In 2013, she became a published author.