Turning Ideas into Reality
If someone had told me a year ago I'd be working full-time on two businesses I'd created during lockdown, I'd never have believed them...
But the reality is… this is where I am at now. At the end of my first week ‘officially’ working full-time for the businesses, I pause to take everything in, and although sometimes I feel like I don't make enough progress daily, I need to look back over the last 9 months to see just how far I've come.
I'm a person who always has ideas. “I've got an idea” are the words my partner Ceurwyn is afraid to hear me speak! But I've learnt now, before I run away with an idea, I keep the idea myself for a few hours, days, or weeks; because in the past, I’ve had a tendency to want to start every idea straight away (be it something at home, a business idea, a new hobby idea) but to get bored with it quite quickly - and maybe in the meantime either told everyone about it, or spent money on getting it started. It has embarrassed me many times before today. So when I came up with the original idea for gofod.space - which is a website to provide information, support and inspiration for small businesses, I think I was in the shower (I get a lot of our ideas in the shower - the one place where I get to switch off completely!), but because of my past experience I kept it to myself for a few days. Only then, after developing the idea in my head and finding that I was still extremely excited about it, and more importantly thinking that it would work as a business, did I mention it to my partner. Although he rolled his eyes when I told him that I had a good idea, by the end of the conversation he was just as ecstatic as I was. I've learnt that he is a pretty good sounding board and can give me a different perspective on things. So, 'fast forward' about 3 weeks from that talk, on October 9th 2020 I launched gofod.space. With our design skills, website design and technological skills, we were fortunate to be able to build the website ourselves, something I was very proud to have been able to do.
I’d known for a few years that I wanted to work supporting small businesses... at one point a few years ago, I was running a small business myself and I remember feeling very lonely doing that. I thought of training as a coach, but I also didn't want to offer a service to a small number of business owners who were lucky enough to be able to afford it. So when the idea came for gofod.space - a website that any small business owner can go to for the information and support they need, then it was very appealing. The vision was to have one reliable place for small business owners to get all the information they need to know about running a business, or know where to go to get the information. They would be able to access support that is going to make their life easier - either through mindfulness, the drive to move things forward, better organisation, self-care etc. There is also some inspiration in reading about other small business owners and their stories, and then just a bit of fun from colouring sheets, word searches and much more.
One thing I have to mention here is that, I'm not an expert. Yes, I've run a business in the past, and I have experience and knowledge of doing that, but the whole idea is that I get the experts to contribute and share their expertise with our audience. Some sort of coordinator or facilitator in the middle if you like. I also learn more as I go along, and the fact that I get to learn more while growing the business is something that greatly appeals to me. I can't stress enough how important it is for everyone to continue to learn and continue to develop in running their business. You can't expect to be able to grow the business otherwise.
I am incredibly proud of what gofod.space has achieved so far, and it is important that we do that sometimes. The Welsh have a tendency to underplay our successes, but in not celebrating our success, we risk not being able to build on those successes.
Within nine months, gofod.space has published a large number of articles for start-ups, and those already in business. We created an Advent Calendar before Christmas on Instagram where small businesses presented a short video to say what Christmas means to them and their business. For International Women's Day, we created the MMB (Women in Business) Project, where I collated photos of a large number of women running a business in Wales and shared them with our audience. I also present a ‘space to discuss’ podcast (sponsored by the Wrexham Glyndŵr University Enterprise Team) - something I've really had to push myself out of my comfort zone to do. And on top of all this, I'm in the process of creating a second website under the umbrella of gofod.space which is smallbusinesses.wales. After successfully raising over £2000 through crowdfunding, smallbusinesses.wales is set to become a directory of small Welsh businesses. No matter which sector, if the business is based in Wales and is a small business, a listing can be found on the website. The vision is to get as many small businesses in Wales all in one place for everyone to find easily. Think about going to Aberystwyth for a weekend, and just wanting to be able to use small businesses while you're there. The site is going to enable you to do that - find somewhere to stay, places to eat, even somewhere to fix your car if you break down there!
Since launching the business, I have learnt so much about myself, and realised that I had a tendency to underestimate what I could do. The biggest challenge is having that belief in myself. Everyone has heard of the 'imposter syndrome', and I've worked hard to get rid of it. It's not quite gone – it’s work in progress, but at times I've really had to dig deep and find something in me that I didn't realize I had. One example of this was when listening back to my own voice after recording the podcasts. It took me weeks to have the confidence to listen to them after recording them. By now, I'm much more comfortable listening to my own voice. I recently completed a short course with Wrexham Glyndŵr University called 'Introduction to Public Speaking' - a free online short course, which has really given me the skills and confidence to think about standing up and delivering in front of an audience. Before pursuing the course, the idea would have given me chills - I'm not good at talking to people at all, but like everything, it is something to be able to acquire the right skills and practice in order to survive the problem. Wrexham Glyndŵr University are running the course again currently with future dates in discussion, and I would highly recommend it to anyone!
I love working with different small businesses every day and the companies that can support them. I am very fortunate to have built a business that I really enjoy running, and the future and plans for gofod.space and smallbusinesses.wales really are exciting. I'm also excited that so many small businesses exist, and have recently started. The demand to buy from and support a small business has exploded, and I really hope that’s here to stay-with the help of resources like smallbusinesses.wales of course!.
If you are ever thinking about starting a business, or taking the next step, all you have to do is go for it. It's far better to take risks than to regret not.
Written by Caryl Owen. Caryl is the founder of both gofod.space and smallbusinesses.wales and supports the Wrexham Glyndŵr University Enterprise Team's new series of Welsh-medium networking events for businesses and individuals.