Have you ever wanted to start your dream business?

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Dream businesses are meant to be things of dreams, right? Things for the people who are financially able, have funding or investment. Not for the ordinary folks with kids and bills to pay. I seriously wish I’d had the impetus to do what I did in a few months of this year a long time ago because I cannot imagine what I could have done with the time and lack of responsibility freely available to me then.

I have thought about this a lot since having my kids because work as I knew it just wasn’t working for me. At the same time I couldn’t work out how in the precious little time between the kids going to bed and my falling asleep on the sofa I would muster the energy and motivation to do something for myself that needed, you know, brain power.

I couldn’t quit my day job to chase a dream because then how would I pay rent, cover child care and eat? I had an idea, a great idea that was eating up at me and itching me to be done but where would I even start?

Then I did this one great exercise (plus a bit of squirreling away of the wine money) and a few months later I launched my own business that I love, that motivates me and gives me energy to do because growing this thing is one of the best things I have done in a long time.

Here is step-by-step what I did and I hope you find it useful too:

1.Write down the big things you want to achieve

This should be a short list of the great big things that you want to do, like now. Mine was a list of three but that was probably two things too long. Those things were launch my knitting business, expand the types of events I worked on to include subjects I love and write.

2. Take note of the first thing you need to do to make progress

Don’t make a full on list of everything you need to do to achieve your dreams, that will overwhelm you and totally sap at the motivation. Just put on the page the very first thing you need to do to take a step forward in your plan. For me that was make a budget for the knitting business so I knew how much I had to save, how long it would take me to save it and what date I could have that cash ready by. For the other two things I wrote down ‘pick a date for a craft event for my husband’s marathon fundraising’ and ‘spend the first 15 minutes of each day free-writing’.

Each of those three things were really simple and probably don’t take up too much time. I will be honest, when it came to the next step I was surprised at how much of the above I didn’t get chance to do.

3. Check in on yourself

On the last day of each month I go back and I check in on how I have progressed on the last step. Did I do that one thing in the space of the month? Most often it was no because I made my list two items too long and instead of wanting to complete one thing that month, I was trying to complete three. Make the list short. This is important else you will have completed something but not everything and that doesn’t half sap at your motivation levels. Then, and this is very important, if I hadn’t done my list from the previous month, I just accepted that and tried again the following month.

4. When you complete something, add one more thing

This bit is obvious but when I finished one step, I added another and would aim to get that one done in the same month if I could. Before I knew it those snatched minutes here and there were really adding up. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the mammoth ideas, I didn’t set myself unrealistic deadlines and most importantly…

5. Roll with it

When I look back now at that first page I wrote in January, it looks nothing like I expected it to right now, today. It is better and different. It is bigger than I could have hoped. It also moved so much faster than I anticipated.

Here’s what I’ve done in the past 8 months (which is more than I’d done in the years previous):

New Logo

Put on a crafternoon at my local community rooms and raised almost £200 for MIND.

Created my own website from scratch and launched my craft business http://www.sonicknits.com

Grown my list and following from zero to the hundreds

Interviewed lots of women who run their own craft business and learned from them.

Written a synopsis and outline for a book plus three chapters.

Filled three notebooks with writing.

Shipped out three months of craft subscription boxes and have a queue of people lined up to work with me.

Given myself the confidence to grow with my goals and acheive what once seemed impossible.

Set a fantastic example to my kids

Started to learn to drive.

I’ve learned a lot on the way these past few months and I want to share some of that too in future.

 

The zero cost cushion.

There is a rule in my house since moth-gate: anything not worn in 6 months is taken to charity as it will never be worn. Twice a year we have a clear out of Summer clothes not worn after Summer and Winter clothes not worn after Winter. It seems to be working well so far and I have yet to think ‘damn it, where is that top I didn’t wear for 5 years?’

Instead, there is a small collection of sentimental clothing sat in the bottom of my drawers. 2 tshirts bought on honeymoon when I was a size 8 for about 3 weeks, 3 t shirts bought at gigs and one mini skirt that is my overall aim to fit back into. Hell, if I ever get back into that mini-skirt I will rejoice in having to buy a new wardrobe.

So, in the interests of de-clutter and reusing to make my home look nicer, I made one of the honeymoon tshirts I hoped to fit in again one day, into a cushion:

Bird CushionI love the repeat bird pattern detail on it.

I have not sewn with such stretchy fabric before and a few adjustments and tests needed to be done on the dinky machine first but a tight zigzag with no tension worked perfectly.

Cushion close upIt is actually proving a great lumbar support on the sofa and cost me not a penny. A good use of Friday night and an old tshirt.

What old fabrics have you got that could be turned into something for the home?

Quick Crafty Task

I found some off cuts in my fabric stash from a cushion I made some time ago and it was perfect for making this:

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I shall be using this tonight for its first outing. The clasp was £4.50 from Ray Stitch, I used some left over embroidery thread to attach to the fabric with a felt lining. I had to look up a quick tutorial online to work it all out but the whole purse took about an hour to make.

 

Curtains for £1

Today I made curtains for £1. Yep. One pound. Okay they are not the greatest curtains (or curtain) to ever grace a room, I can admit that but still, they only cost £1.

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The main bird pattern fabric I picked up in Ikea ages ago for £1. Ikea is sometimes a gold mine for cut offs dirt cheap, there is a big bin of fabric in the little seconds room at the end of the store. Normally, everyone is too angry by that point of the store to even notice a Seconds room but if you can regain composure after the obligatory row by the plant pots about the amount of stuff in the trolley, there are some good finds to be had at the end of the warehouse. I’d originally bought this to use in my son’s room as a wall hanging but never got around to the ‘hanging’ bit. As such it was a little too short for the window but I had saved the cut-offs from our own bedroom curtains and the purple went well with the patterned fabric so I sewed them both together.

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Then for the curtain hooks, I did have some spare clip ones but I thought it would look more colourful and fun for my son’s room to use ribbon instead.

IMG_0035These didn’t cost me anything as I’d salvaged them from various packaging over the past couple of years thinking they would come in use one day. In fact, I think both of them came from new baby baskets gifted to welcome my son into the world. I did have a bit of DIY to do unscrewing the curtain pole from the ends but the whole thing went up easily and matches in the with decor of the rest of the room.

Also cleared off my long-standing to-do list was bunting for my son’s room. He’s been after some for about a year, he loves the stuff. In fact, I bought some cheap car-print fabric for the job over a year ago and never got around to it. The arrival of the new sewing machine meant I could throw off the dust and get this done.

IMG_0022I got some lovely striped ribbon from the Ray Stitch store in Islington yesterday, which cost £5 and a few extra bits of material, which also cost £5. All in all my son’s room got a lovely make-over for £11 and a very enjoyable day of sewing.

In fact, I loved some of the fabric so much that I may go back to Ray Stitch later to get more to update our living room soft furnishings.

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Long term goal block.

I am working on a few long term projects at the moment. The ones that seem to drag on at times with never an end in sight. The same might be said for my body image goal. Illness combined with a busy life has meant my time for fitness has subsided to nothing. Writing seemed to be a drag as well. I needed some quick tasks that I could start, finish and feel a sense of accomplishment to kick start enthusiasm for some of the longer term goals.

So I made my son this hat.

Crochet is admittedly not my strongest crafty skill but it was immensely satisfying to not only complete something in a short space of time but to also correctly follow a crochet pattern and understand it.

One of the other long-term projects I am working on is a crochet throw for my sofa. That really is a test of my attention span and will power to see it through.

The other upside of the warm. wooly hat is that the day I finished it, we had that glorious sunny spell. This weekend my son got to wear the hat while we stood getting damp by the Tower of London waiting to get a quarter inch glimpse of the Queen’s flotilla. I’m the least royalist person I know but my husband convinced me it would be good to take our son to at least one event in London this Summer. It convinced me that taking him through the throngs of tourists again this year will be a silly idea.

On a slight side from this, the double bank holiday has resulted in my husband taking the whole week off so this afternoon I can go for a run to kick start my long term goal to fit back into my mini-skirt. There are even some sunny spells outside and my ipod is charging up with new music.

Procrastinating Away.

It has been a while. Writing has made way for business development and general exhaustion. Not helped by the power cable for my laptop being a bit dodgy so my evening of tapping away has become an evening of watching utter rubbish on TV.

For 18 months, my husband and I lived quite happily and willfully without TV. Much to the amusement of those around us who didn’t quite understand why we would not own a TV. I think we talked more, read more and were generally happier. Heck, we certainly did more.

That is not to say we didn’t watch any programmes, we were just more selective about what we did watch. Marathon runs of Curb Your Enthusiasm got me through early days of pregnancy, Eastenders has always been a stalwart of my week but I could choose when to watch, not sit through the interminable One Show while waiting for it to air.

Now, after putting our son to bed, we sit with our tea in front of the telly. We watch rubbish show after rubbish show on the 7 channels we have. Yes, we may have caved to TV but have not caved to many channels of nothing to watch.

I have lost the plot with kids TV shows and now that is about to be banned. I wish I had never included In The Night Garden into the bedtime routine. Frankly, if the TV were to pack up I think I would be quite thankful. I would probably get more done.

From discussions with other people, it seems we do not actually watch that much TV. We are more film fans than anything else. So this week, you can probably feel my pain that in one day I had to sit through seven hours, yes seven hours of Britain’s Got Talent. I think I have lost many brain cells this week. It was all in the name of work, I was transcribing for use in another production.

It reminded me of the heady TV-free days where we listened to music, played music and wrote about music. Wrote a lot more about a lot of subjects. Plus having a child makes me realise how much free time I can use well in a day rather than whittle away with rubbish. I could write a book rather than read one, finish one of my many craft projects or learn a language.

So we have decided to become a family of completer-finishers, not least because seeing tasks through will set a good example to our son. I have finished a wall hanging, which is waiting to be hung in my son’s room. It also reminded me why I was putting it off; the sewing machine needs a good hit with a hammer multiple times and replacing with a better one. I am also a quarter of a way through the never ending crochet throw to make the food-covered sofa look more attractive. I have even plotted out my book and freelance work is picking up.

Life is much brighter without TV.