By Hannah Waddington

Wow. Well, here we are at the dawn of a new year and a chance to reflect on the past 12 months.

This time of year brings with it a big milestone for my business. Maru recently celebrated its first anniversary of trading and, while this would usually be considered a notable moment with everything that’s happened in 2021, it feels charged with extra significance.

It has also given me a chance to consider my own personal experience and learnings from launching in the middle of a pandemic.

It would be simple to say that the road has been paved with challenge and that any resulting success is all the sweeter.

But coming to the end of these first/last 12 months I’ve realised exactly how much I’ve grown, and I thought I’d list some insight I’ve gained in the hope that it helps others.

Just doing this made me realise how much has happened and how grateful I am to be here, still standing at the end of this year – I hope 2022 is a kinder and more prosperous one for us all.

So, here goes!

  • Will it make the boat go faster?: This is a quote a quote from Olympic rower Ben Hunt Davis and is something I’ve repeatedly used in the last 12 months. When you set up a business, you have a million different priorities. Marketing, sales, delivery, operations, teamwork, strategy, customer service, networking – this list goes on! You have to be strict and selfish with your time and if it’s not taking you forward in some way it has to go.
  • It’s is about how smart you work: Yes, I’ve worked early mornings and some late nights but the best work I’ve done is when I have spent less time ‘working’. You are never going to be your best in a sales meeting, or working out a new strategy, when you are exhausted. Everyone’s body clock is different, so I have had to work out when I am best on the phone, best at writing, or best doing admin. I know, for example, that I have a dip in concentration at about 2.30pm, so I tend to work through my lunch and then go for a walk mid-afternoon. It boosts my productivity and ultimately means better quality and quantity.
  • People need people: We all have felt this in the past nearly 24 months but I didn’t realise how much until I had some business meetings in London. I ended these days so energised and full of ideas that I’d recommend anyone making time to travel and get out and about (while being safe of course). Don’t question the financial ROI. Even if you don’t make any money from it, it will inject you with adrenaline, energy, and ideas.
  • You do you: I wish I could take my younger self to one side and say this over and over again. There are so many people out there with opinions – everyone is an influencer these days but only you know what works for you. Whether it’s working from home versus working in the office, working 9-5 versus working weekends, exercise versus Netflix, cutting out coffee versus ‘I cannot function without caffeine’. You do you.
  • The ‘Do Not Disturb’ function can save your sanity: Teams, WhatsApp, calls, Facebook, Instagram, Slack, the list goes on. None of it is going to help you get the job done. It is great to be connected, just not all the time.I have found that any deep work I need to do can only be achieved by switching off and zoning in.
  • Not everything is my fault: It is so easy to blame yourself for everything that goes wrong when it is your business. But it isn’t! This is something I am particularly bad at doing. My investor and mentor, Mike Beesley, is very good at helping me realise that sometimes it was nothing to do with me. And, as every good football manager will tell you – you can only control the controllables.
  • Give your liver a rest and it will pay you back dividends: A bit of a personal one. I have always loved a drink, but, on the 22nd July 2021, I made the decision to completely stop. I didn’t give up purely for work, but I have found it to be a huge benefit in order to enjoy a more balanced life. The best bit about it is that my liver is really happy – and a happy liver means a happier life.
  • Pivot like a prima ballerina: It is OK to adapt quickly in response to changes in the business environment. Some of the most successful periods of the last year have been after difficult conversations where we have asked ourselves “have we lost our way?”. If the answer is “yes”, brilliant, change direction if you think it’s going to get you back on track. A change really is as good as a rest!
  • You are nothing without your support network: I saw Brene Brown launched her most recent book Atlas of the Heart and she said on her Instagram that the book had her team’s “fingerprints and heart-prints all over it”. I thought this was a lovely dedication – not least because when people support you, they truly do it from the heart. It is so important to thank them and remember the support they gave you at the start.
  • Life really is for living: I am only going to set up my first business once so, I need to enjoy it! I will be taking this much more into the next calendar year and making sure I savour the good times more, stop to look around me and have fun.

Happy New Year to all my network! Hope you have a great start to 2022 and hope to see you along the way.

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This post was written by maruhrstaging

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