Reflections for Growth
Do you reflect on the days, weeks or months gone by to better yourself? As 2017 draws to a close, I’ve spent some considerable time recalling all the personal and professional decisions I’ve made and sought to understand where I am now, before we kickstart a brand new year.
Rather than setting New Year’s resolutions as such, I’m using this form of reflection, an incredible tool to help me practice mindfulness and gratitude at the same time, to appreciate the year that was, and provide a benchmark for 2018.
The early days of 2017 were so different to where I am now. In the months leading in to this year, I had seriously questioned myself and my business. I was stressed about operational pressures, competition and cash flow. But I decided I had come too far to give up on my dream. I committed to giving myself a year to see what I could do with She’s Empowered.
12 months later and I am proud to be in a position of reflection and goal setting for the new year. I may have started She’s Empowered, but it turns out She’s Empowered has empowered me! Through prioritising acceptance, family, hard work and honesty, I have grown in my relationships and with my business.
I used to always worry I wasn’t as good as the other players in the workwear industry. I had no formal training in design; I learned as I went. I would sit in meetings listening to terminology that I had no idea about, and would Google the words later just to make sense of the meeting! I put so much energy into self-doubt and questioning being a small town girl trying to make it in one of Australia’s largest industries. I would take every criticism to heart and would worry I wouldn’t be taken seriously with every new business meeting.
But this has been a profound year, realising I need to accept the fact that yes, I’m from a small country town and that’s made me who I am. Instead of seeing that as a negative thing, I learnt to embrace it. I love family; growing up with parents in small business and living on a farm has instilled me with a hard working ethic. For me that meant picking mangos, moving pipes, delivering industrial bins with mum, and cleaning up building sites for dad. I know I’m a hard worker, but I also know I can’t be good at everything. I’ve accepted my shortcomings and I now choose to engage experts in their fields if it’s out of my depth. I also accept and put to use all the great qualities I possess – I realised this year I am motivated, brave and trusting, and am a great friend, daughter, sister and girlfriend.
When you own and run a small business, you tend to get pretty absorbed in every facet of the business. You’re burning the candle at both ends managing design, stock control, orders, packing and distributing, sales and marketing, social media and so much more. I’ve gotten to that point more than once, where She’s Empowered consumed my whole life.
But family comes first. What’s the point of being your own boss if your boss doesn’t give you a day off?! My work life balance has shifted this year to spend more time with my beautiful family. Being around them reminds me of who I am and how loved I am. Instead of thinking it’s taking precious time out of my business, I am appreciating it’s driving and motivating me to be better in She’s Empowered. Family invigorates me and in turn, I am enriching my family with passion and positive energy.
When I stood back in late 2016 thinking my business was failing, I realised I had lost energy and was feeding the very thing that was stressing me out! I had started She’s Empowered with a bang with some great media coverage, award wins and secured some large procurement contracts, but then business slowly over the years started to lose momentum.
I guess I thought once the business was up and running, it would run like clockwork. But it didn’t take long to realise I needed to put 110% in every day. And that’s exactly what I do. In fact, workwear is on my mind 24/7. It keeps me awake some nights, and puts me to sleep other nights! In 2017 I reinvigorated my business model and marketing approach and have adjusted my framework from working longer days, to working smarter days. I’m learning to cut out the noise and focus on what matters. I’ve put a lot of hard work into keeping She’s Empowered in the hearts and minds of Australian women working in mining and construction. Hard work really does create luck.
2017 saw me speak my heart and mind more in both professional and personal relationships, and I realised I’m more empowered and liberated for doing so. I’m honest with myself at work and remain transparent with suppliers, customers and corporate clients. Honesty is about being an active listener and putting everything on the table. I don’t pretend to be a bigger business than what I am. I am proud to be building a business from the ground up. I’m not afraid of saying no to a deal that I’m likely to lose money on. I’m comfortable in making decisions based on whether or not the business will profit and look for ways to make situations a win-win for all parties involved. I’m also learning to be more honest with you, my valued community of friends, colleagues and customers, bringing more of who I am into this brand we’ve built together. I think approaching business, and life in general, this way has benefited everyone around me. I have always been afraid to show my vulnerability, but guess what? We’re all human and we all have our flaws. I believe empowerment comes from accepting this, and moving on anyway.
My wish for you in 2018 is that you find empowerment. Because it’s truly the best feeling there is.
Kym is the founder of She’s Empowered, offering industrial workwear for women Australia-wide. She is an entrepreneur, award winner, speaker, resource sector employee and advocate for inclusion and diversity in the workplace.