Tag Archives: patience

Lights, camera, action

Profiling a Prince’s Trust supported entrepreneur

The logic behind young mum’s setting up their own businesses is clear – the flexibility around childcare and working from home, the excitement of turning a hobby into an income source, and the stimulation of growing a business alongside a family. Sadly, for many women in this situation the demands of juggling self-employment and parenting can be too much, even with support through The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme .

This is not the case for Emily Mashiter who runs her photography business from her home in Milton Keynes while combining caring for a three-year-old son with shift work at a local hotel. And all this despite her admitting “I’m one of the most disorganised people – it’s really bad.”

Photographer Emily specialises in taking pictures of babies aged between five and ten days old. The tranquil and angelic image of a young person at peace with their world (the newborn, not the photographer) belies the effort that goes into creating it. “Newborn shoots usually take about four hours; most of that time is spent putting them into a deep sleep so you can then do pretty much anything with them, while keeping them safe at all times. I love cuddling them and they always fall asleep – I haven’t yet had one that didn’t like me.”

It sounds as though Emily could have a second career as a baby-whisperer if her current photographic venture doesn’t develop (pun intended).

Emily’s love of shooting babies (which would sound terrible in any other context) started with her own son’s newborn photos, after which, in Emily’s own words, “I fell in love with little ones and it was babies, babies, babies!”  

The route to a career in photography started in childhood “copying my Dad with a point-and-shoot camera on holiday in Wales.” That initial interest was followed by A levels and a college course to learn photographic technique. A lifelong love of art, combined with her innate eye for a good shot and important editing skills, captures moments that, as evidenced by repeat commissions, delight her clients as much as the photographer herself.

Having a baby soon after leaving college thwarted plans for further study – in Wales and New York – in fashion photography. For someone who became a mum at 19 years, Emily is happy with career decisions that have brought her to her current situation where she hopes the new business is, with support from the Prince’s Trust, about to take off. “I think I made the right choice with the camera I bought originally, but I should have invested in other equipment such as lighting, and buying props to make my early work look more professional.”

In what she thinks is a wise move, Emily works with parent and babies she doesn’t already know – avoiding a potential difficult mix of professional and personal relationships. “People you know tend to want more for less. I’ve never had a problem asking strangers for money and they’ve always been happy to pay.”

The cool, calm, capable baby-whisperer that is Emily Mashiter is at odds with the disorganisation she confessed to. How does she manage to juggle clients, hotel work and motherhood? “I have a set rota for my job so I remember that. Every other weekend is free for photoshoots and I make do without ever having enough sleep. I have a very good childminder and can do business admin in the evenings when my little boy is sleeping.”

Emily’s business is called Faegrian Photography – Faegrian is the old English work for ‘beautiful’. No one who has seen her work could deny its beauty; Emily’s love of her art shines through every image.

www.facebook.com/faegrianphotography

About The Prince’s Trust https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/help-for-young-people/support-starting-business

For further profiles on Prince’s Trust supported entrepreneurs, click here  https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/experts-by-experience

 

Growing your enterprise – Nurture by Nature

Latest in the More Expert by Experience series

New Nurture by Nature logoNurture by Nature are connecting young people with nature and history at their stunning 6-acre site of ancient Norfolk woodland. Hannah Burns, fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs in Ipswich, is the inspiration behind the creation of an oasis of tranquillity. Exactly two years on from my first and last visit to Attleborough Wood, I get an update.

I’m surprised to hear Hannah summarise developments over the past two years as “laying the foundations and getting the structure in place.” This seems like an extended gestation period, but then I remember she’s in this for the long term; Nurture by Nature has a 20-year management plan. 

In reality, Hannah’s baby is now an energetic toddler as she explains “we’re trying new things, lots of activities, we’ve got a growing team, we’re working with more schools, we’ve got an office and tool shed [play area] and equipment [toys].”

But importantly, Hannah is clear about the reason she set up Nurture by Nature in the first place. “The ancient woodland is our priority – we’re here to take care of it as guardians and advocates. We’re trying to educate the next generation; make them more mindful about minimising their environmental impact.”  

The fresh air and exercise is obviously working well for the three staff members, four directors, and up to 15 volunteers. There is now talk of ‘scaling-up’ – hopefully with further support from the School for Social Entrepreneurs in London.

Hannah B - Nurture by NatureFor Hannah this is also about recognising her limits “admitting I’m not an expert in everything”, letting go “we’ve now got a strong team”, and bringing in outside help “we’ve had external marketing support to develop our public image”.

The painful pregnancy and birth that seem to accompany many, if not all, social enterprise start-ups are reflected in Hannah’s advice to other would-be entrepreneurs. “Don’t give up – it’s about your head and heart. I’ve been tired and tearful, had sleepless nights about taking risks, some months I’ve been unable to pay myself, and it can be lonely. But the change in the last year has been amazing. I’ve got supportive directors, each with specific expertise and, as staff, we care for each other.”

Another characteristics of people like Hannah is that they have too many ideas for the time available – mindfulness courses and weekend retreats being just two. Funding permitting, the next ‘big thing’ is a visitor centre, regular opening hours, and more work with schools.

“Think future, act now” could be Hannah’s mantra as she, no longer alone, continues to grow young people and ancient woodland in rural Norfolk.    

Further reading:

https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/freedom-to-think-outside-no-box-required (Nurture by Nature, November 2013)

Find out more about Nurture by Nature  www.nurturebynatureforestschool.co.uk www.facebook.com/NurtureBNature www.twitter.com/nbnforestschool

Time Trials  #2 – precise time

HourglassMy dear old dad used to say he was baffled by people who spent good money on a watch that would be ‘accurate to within a 1,000th second over 100 years’ (or whatever the claim) because no one needs that accuracy.

True – but time and some precision is surprisingly prevalent (some would say dominant) in much of our lives. The other Saturday I made a day trip to York. To summarise my day in terms of times …

5.15am Rude alarm awakening

5.59 Three trains to arrive in York (on time) at 8.31

9am parkrun time 23.32 (9 seconds off my personal best for York)

11.30am and 1.00pm – Two meetings

3.00pm  York City vs Tranmere Rovers (my team) – 90 minutes + 9 minutes extra time

18.31 Two return trains arriving (4 minutes later than advertised) 21.11

The first blog in this pair on the theme of time [https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/time-trials-1-precious-time] shows how the importance of time depends on the context.

At The Repair Shed – our burgeoning social enterprise in Hemel Hempstead – we’re enjoying funding support from the Innovation in Waste Prevention Fund. The implication of this is that we have to account for our spending (how much) and demonstrate our achievements (how well) in a time-limited period that ends on 30 November 2015.

I’m the first to say that, when spending someone else’s money (and even when we’re not -see https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/building-a-shed-the-second-100-days) we should be accountable, but the clocking is ticking. We now have to try to realise the plan of action we submitted to the funders according to the timetable we presented with our bid for their support.

But where ‘innovation’ is concerned there’s inherent risk that things will not happen when/how it was intended – assuming the innovation is real. And we’re working with volunteers who can simply walk away, so there’s no guarantee of having feet on the ground and hands on deck to make it happen at all!

So the time pressure is real and I’m reminded once again of Olive Quinton‘s insight around starting a business (she created social enterprise Lofty Heights) – be patient; other people’s timetables will be different from yours.

I’ll try to be patient Olive, but it won’t be easy.

PS Here’s a tip when organising meetings. If you advertise an unusual start time – 2.13pm say – people are more likely to remember it and turn up on time!

 

Eight top tips from ‘experts by experience’

Create and share the vision…

“Having a clear vision is important, particularly when well-intentioned people are in danger of diverting you. But making sure that vision is one which is shared is also important; the whole consultation process was about taking people with us. For sustainability, that strong foundation and broad backing is essential, as is having the right legal structure with community interest at its heart.”  Rosamund Webb, Station House Community Connections http://bit.ly/1wfUF6D

 Passion is important, but not enough…

“Unless you have a real desire and passion, don’t do it. Social enterprise is not a route to making money, so the desire to make a difference has to be genuine. But passion is not enough. You should learn as much as you possibly can about the subject, but don’t feel you have to do it all at once. It can’t all happen overnight, so have realistic expectations.” James Hogg, Music and Memories http://bit.ly/1p6Lwax

Be guided by your achievements and successes

When starting your business, stick with it. “You’ll have a huge idea at the start, with blurred surroundings so you can’t see how to get to your destination. But be guided by your achievements and successes.”  Amanda Keel, FullSpoon http://bit.ly/1BrZpsI

 Make it sell-able at a viable price…

“ If you want to make money [from your artwork]… you need to make it saleable and sell it at a viable price. The designs you come up with have to be commercial if that’s what you’re in it for. If you’re a creative being who wants to create art, don’t think of it as a business proposition.” Teresa Crickmar, Craftworks http://bit.ly/1qEEU8E

Get your public profile right…

“Look the part. The reason Forest Owl is getting into schools and talking to businesses is that we communicate effectively through our website and social media. We’re also building credibility by nailing our colours to the mast. We live our brand by getting out and about, not sitting indoors in an office.”  Ian Henderson, Forest Owl http://bit.ly/1xIoDEF

Learn to let go…

“Don’t underestimate the people you’re working with – particularly when they’re volunteers. Learn to let go, people are very capable and if you give them the opportunity, they’ll learn.” Nicky Kearns, Secret Space http://bit.ly/1BrZ4Gx

It takes a long time to build a reputation but a second to destroy it…

“It takes time to build up reputation and loyal customers – I favour word of mouth over any other publicity. I stress with the guys that it takes a long time to build a reputation but a second – one hair in the food – to destroy it. So we’re very strict on quality control.” Sam Speller, All Seasoned http://bit.ly/1CRpgvG

Give it a go and be patient…

“Be open to new ideas and experiences. Give something a try and if it doesn’t work out, don’t worry; it’s the trying that’s important. I stuck with jobs that didn’t suit me, resilient in the face of poor management for the sake of the children in my care, until other career stepping stones came along.”  Hannah Burns, Nurture by Nature Forest School http://bit.ly/1lTbOC8

 

More tips from Experts by Experience at:  http://bit.ly/1dQplX3

Building a shed – the second 100 days

Day 200I’m already seven months into my year with the Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Start-up Programme at the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) in Ipswich. Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun etc… but more about that later.

April 18 was day 200 – Good Friday – and a good day for further reflection on my progress in setting up The Repair Shed – a will-be environmental social enterprise involving older men in purposeful but unpaid employment – making, mending and learning.

A timely reminder of my plan (and deviation from it) also drops through my letterbox in the shape of a postcard, sent by SSE but written by me last October, about what I wanted to achieve in the six months to end March 2014. So what does it say on that oh-so-optimistic postcard?

For me, by April 2014 I planned to ‘know I’m going to get paid for the next 6 months’ and for The Repair Shed, to have ‘shed members recruited and active’ and to be ‘earning income’.

On the ‘members active’ front, I’m pleased to say that, after an inspiring and energizing shed crawl to Milton Keynes and Aylesbury at the end of March, we’re having a final meeting on 1st May (Labour Day – significant I think) before we literally roll up our sleeves and get hands-on.  We’re going to start small, one day a week, but I think the move will be important for making The Repair Shed more real for both insiders and outsiders.

So we’re not yet earning income and nor am I. Unless, that is, you count a £20 donation for putting someone’s IKEA shelves together (did you know there are literally hundreds of companies offering that same service – along with IKEA themselves?) A crowded market and not one for The Repair Shed I think. Try putting ‘flatpack assembly’ into Google if you don’t believe me.

At the start of this blog post I mentioned the F-word – fun – and I can honestly say the last 200 days have been some of the most enjoyable and rewarding of my entire career in the not-for-private-profit sector.

But F for fun, not for funding.

As no one is currently paying me to do what I’m doing, I’ve been tempted to think I can be a free spirit and do pretty much what I like as long as I’m developing The Repair Shed.  This isn’t the case of course, and I now know I need to be more formally held to account, in advance of possible income-generation (for The Repair Shed) and funding (to cover my time).

With this in mind, I’m setting up a steering group – inviting people whom I hope will want to help develop The Repair Shed through a personal and professional interest. People willing to attend tightly-run meetings at which I report on what I say I’m going to do/ have done and they share their expertise and insights.  To keep a wider group of people abreast of my exploits, I’m planning a monthly e-bulletin – Make & Mend – from May onwards, to allow others to look through The Repair Shed window.

If you’d like to have a regular, short and, hopefully, lively update on what we’re getting up to in the Repair Shed, just e-mail leeinroyston@aol.com with ‘Make & Mend subscription’ in the subject box.

Enterprise essential – It takes time

Be persistent but polite – don’t be put off by criticisms and set-backs. Most successful business people have several failed businesses behind them – they’ve learnt and have the self-confidence to try again. Be patient – we are under pressure to succeed in relatively short time-spans; a legacy of short term grant-funding regimes, but the average business needs 2 – 3 years to get established and start making a profit.