An Unexpected Journey – Or Why My Website Took Me So Long
I’ve just released my new website (whitestarsystems.co.uk) and I’m very proud of it. But it’s taken me 18 months to create. It’s been a journey. A personal journey for my business and I. I’d like to share that journey with you here, in my first blog in over two years. I intend for it to be the first of many.
I went full time with my business in January 2014, having spent a year contracting part-time. You need to realise that I’d spent more than 30 years in corporate IT, until I got fed up with travelling and office politics. Being an IT geek (and proud of it!) meant that I hadn’t really spent much time in the real world of business. Sure, they let me out to meet clients occasionally, so I knew how to talk to people, but I was still a geek and very green in business terms.
One of the first things I learned was a thing called “networking”. Apparently small businesses get together, often over a fry-up or a pile of pasta, to talk about stuff. And in so doing, generate business. Eating and doing business at the same time appealed to me, so I set off to attend my first networking lunch, in Northampton. Like a rabbit in the headlights, I sat there, nibbling away at my lunch, while people who knew each other well chatted around me. I was made welcome, and actually started enjoying myself. Hey – I could do this!
Then I started a conversation which, looking back, changed my life forever. I met Jen, who invited me to a networking group called 4Networking (4N). I joined on my first visit and have been a member ever since. The people I met as a result have been instrumental in the development of my business.
I started working with Peter, a business coach for a few (valuable) sessions. At a session in August 2104, he basically told me how dreadful my existing website was! I really hadn’t thought about it until then, but he was right. It was dull, and didn't show off my skills – so why would people buy from me? And so, like Bilbo Baggins, my unexpected journey began, from a surprising conversation with a wise, grey-bearded Gentleman!
Shortly after, I sought Jen’s Input, as she had a graphic design background. She came up with the idea of a space theme, to fit in with WhiteStar and its origins (see my About page for more hints about this). I wasn’t very busy at the time, so I started designing my new website. I created a few prototypes and threw them away - I wanted to get it right this time.
Then the networking kicked in. Jobs started coming in and I got busy – very busy! I continued working on prototypes in my spare time. I didn’t have much of that though, between working and fencing (my hobby), so the website didn’t progress. I kept telling myself that the work would come to a natural lull soon and I’d use that time to build the site.
The lull never came.
By now, I’d grown to really dislike my existing site. So much so that I started telling people to “not look my website. It’s a bit out of date and I’m working on a new one”. Somehow, I got away with it! I was now regularly attending several 4N groups, so I was meeting lots of people and they got to know and like me. I was honest that my own site wasn’t amazing, and they gave me work anyway.
My business continued to evolve as I did. I met Phil, a copywriter, and he inspired me to hone my own copywriting skills. I practised by writing e-mails to advertise my 4N groups, and these got glowing reviews. The networking scene was exposing me to lots of like-minded people and I learned a lot from them. I started to become all of those things that I needed to be – Finance Director, Sales Director and Marketing Director.
During this time, I met a couple of ladies who completed my skill set. Jo, another business coach, taught me positivity, how to relax and how to believe in my own worth. Julie, a sales trainer, taught me how to sell, without selling, how to charge what I’m worth and not be embarrassed about it. Most of all she taught me how to plan.
About 6 months ago, I met a graphic designer called Rob. Looking back, it was one of those encounters that only came about because a number of factors fell into place. Some call that fate. We talked about the state of my site and he convinced me I needed to get on and do it. He offered to sort out the visual aspect and over Christmas he came up with the design for what you can see today. The final piece of the jigsaw had dropped into place.
About the same time, my work with Julie had resulted in a new pricing structure and the support packages, which I needed to advertise and roll out.
And so all of these strands came together, almost at the same time, early this year. The journey had led me to this place. I now knew what I needed to say, and why. I knew how to write to get the message across and had the imagery to back it up.
In the end, it took me less than a week to build the site. Was this the first week I could’ve spared in the last 18 months? No, of course not. I guess deep down I knew I wasn't ready to build it – I was still on the journey. Now the journey has ended. It was quite a ride. I've met some amazing people on the way, made lots of friends and grown in ways I wouldn't have thought possible.
I’m looking forward to the next journey. Who knows where it’ll take me or what new galaxies I’ll get to explore this time!