Summer season finally finished for me last weekend, and what a summer it was!
I've driven just about 5000 miles (Torquay to Athens and back, roughly) and sung in eight different counties at festivals, weddings, parties, care homes, hotels, holiday parks, and the stunning Exeter Cathedral, which is where the above picture was taken.
A few months ago, I was thinking about scaling back my singing and focussing on getting a 'proper job', because it didn't seem to matter how hard I worked - I just wasn't getting enough gigs in to make a living and I was really struggling emotionally (that's another story). I have pretty impressive insomnia so I'd rock up to gigs shattered and nervous of what was about to happen. And then I'd catch someone's eye, or make them smile, or meet a great wedding couple and I always thought... just a bit longer.
I've met some truly fantastic people recently that believe in me and what I do, and have supported me through to this point, where I'm happy and focussed and confident about the future. I was collaborating on projects, such as at the cathedral with Frocks In Swing Time and InExeter, and plugging away just hoping that it would pay off. And it has. Phew!
With that in mind, and knowing where I am now compared to the beginning of the summer, I've learned some really valuable lessons and would love to share them with anyone who may be struggling or having a business blip:
BUDGET - I'm a Martin Lewis fangirl and love a good spreadsheet, so this is something I do anyway, but if cashflow is an immediate issue this is really important. I don't always know when money is coming in which can be incredibly stressful, so I'm now figuring out how to pay myself a salary to even everything out.
NETWORK - This is the single biggest boost to my business this year. I go to several networking events a month (normally first thing in the morning, not good for an entertainer!) and have not only booked gigs from fellow networkers, but outside of the groups via word of mouth. The bigger the pool of people who know you and trust you, the better! And networking isn't as scary or dull as it sounds - everyone is friendly and welcoming.
COLLABORATE - In the past few weeks I've collaborated with several fellow creatives and small business owners on fashion shows and shoots. Not only is it a huge amount of fun, it again builds that group of people who will recommend you and it can introduce you to new but relevent potential customers and clients.
REMEMBER WHY YOU'RE DOING IT - Seriously, why are you putting yourself through this?? It'd be so much easier to be an employee with lovely things like holiday pay and Sundays off, so what's the payoff? For me, it's knowing that I bring happiness to people. Plus I'm a massive show off. Plus I'm terrible at pretty much everything else.
KEEP LEARNING AND MOVING FORWARD - It's so easy to get stuck in your ways and any successful CEO will tell you that you have to keep looking at how you can improve yourself and the business. This year, I've completed my Dementia Care qualification and I'm teaching myself ukulele so I can start adding it into my sets next summer. What could you do?
ASK FOR HELP - A new skill for me! There are people out there who will offer you help and support, whether that's practical or emotional. We all struggle and it takes a lot of courage to show vulnerability, but it's so worth it.
I really wasn't expecting this to turn into a weird confessional, 'top tips' post but there we go ha! I'm really looking forward to what's lined up in the lead up to Christmas, including my first 80s festival, a big burlesque event, and dressing up as a witch for my Halloween shows - some would say I don't need to, but we'll leave that there.