Last year, as Christmas approached, I was putting the final preparations in place for my new venture ready for its launch in January.
I had already undertaken a start-up programme through St Helens Chamber and the New Enterprise Allowance. I started networking at the Chamber Business Breakfast and M62 Connections, and I had been working on my own website. I also set up and publicised my business on social media.
I was ready with a vengeance to get going as 2018 started.
With the new year came more networking groups. I was invited to Leigh Business Focus Group and from there to 4Networking. Others, like Konsortia, followed later.
But my first lead - my first piece of work - came from someone finding my business on Google. A Bolton startup wanted a consultant to review their policies and procedures ready for submitting a CHAS (Contractor Heath and Safety Scheme) application and someone to act as their competent person. KSH Safety Services was up and running.
It was, like many start ups, a slow beginning. Small pieces of work, gained mainly through the networking came in. But it was the regular posts on my blog, the social media twitter hours, and the meeting people face to face while honing my network short pitch that began to sow the seeds for what was to come.
I was building the brand. The tick and K logo, that I actually designed as a child, was beginning to get recognised. A former colleague from many years ago found me on Linked In, offering me twelve weeks two days a week while they recruited a new safety manager. Perfect work to help get me established.
I did my first business exhibition - and had over fifty businesses showing an interest, some of which became clients. I added a suite of e-learning courses through Videotile Learning, to broaden my appeal and services.
Then came the hard bit. The hot summer arrived, schools broke up and the work dried up. As August came to an end I thought that was it. I was beginning to think my dream of running my own business was over. The panic and the emotion was horrible.
Then suddenly no sooner were the kids back in school, the phones rang. People I had been conversing with at networking meetings were giving me work. Small construction companies, a church, a solicitor, and even a miniature railway. Some gave me long term work that guarantee each month over a year. Some bulk bought e-learning courses.
I gave back to the local community too - sponsoring a Church charity event in Haydock and sponsoring St Helens Town FC with a pitch side board. I also did an interview for a community television station.
As my first year of trading draws to a close, work is lined up well into 2019. The first year has been a rollercoaster ride of emotion, but one thing is certain - its the best decision I ever made to run my own business.
With many clients in different industries, 2019 and beyond is looking good for KSH Safety Services.
I wish to thank all the many many people and businesses who have supported me with advice, support, work and opportunities over the last year, and I look forward to working with you all this next year.
I hope that 2019 is a happy, prosperous, successful, healthy and above all safe year for you all.
KSH Safety Services supports the Safer St Helens "One Punch Can Kill" campaign.
Please take care this New Year. Remember - Alcohol can change the way you act. Stop the drunken violence. Think about the consequences. Walk Away!
Full details on this campaign can be found at http://safer.sthelens.gov.uk/pages/one-punch-can-kill/