Last month was our Cat's Pajamas #SmallBiz100 day as part of the Small Business Saturday campaign.
It made me reflect on what a strange year, full of ups and downs, 2020 has been so far. As many of you may know my day job is in the NHS, as a director of communications. I can honestly say I have never worked harder, alongside all of my colleagues, both clinical and non-clinical, this has been the toughest year by far. I want to say how grateful I am to my team and colleagues for being there for each other, bringing their best selves to the table but also for being vulnerable and sharing when things have been really hard.
60 plus hour weeks, the opportunity (I’m going with that) to act as Gold Command Incident Director for my entire organisations on many occasions, having to share the emotional news of the deaths of colleagues, burn out, tears, guilt about not working hard enough-that has been the backdrop to my year as a small business owner.
I set up Cat’s Pajamas in 2019 and you can read more about the back story here. In early March 2020 I attended an event at the House of Lords, recognising me as one of the F:entrepreneur #ialso100. It was such an amazing morning, I’m honoured and privileged to be recognised for my day job and for setting up my business. I also now, can’t quite believe that just a few short weeks later we would be in the absolute thick of it with the pandemic.
Despite having less time to focus on Cat’s Pajamas there were a few things I really wanted to achieve. I wanted to develop the Cat’s PJs Collaborative, a small community of communications professionals coming together to support each other and look for opportunities to collaborate. So I launched the monthly Speakeasy and we have been meeting virtually once a month to network, share ideas and seek guidance. I didn’t want to use the pandemic as a reason not to start the meet-ups and in fact it has felt like an important time to bring people together.
I also wanted to continue recording the podcast and to showcase small businesses built on passion. Squashing in recordings in the evenings and at weekends meant I was able to to do this and thank you so much to all the guests for being so accommodating. The Businesses Built on Passion series launched in November and will run until 2021. It felt to me like supporting small business owners to share their stories and to hopefully provide listeners with some inspiration was the right thing to do.
I thrive on collaborating with others and the other thing I really wanted to achieve was to run the first AWEsome Women’s Retreat with my co-collaborators Jane and Lorna. I am so happy to say that we managed to squeeze the Retreat in for 10 bloomin’ amazing women just before lockdown 2.0. I am so proud not only of what the three of us achieved, but also of all the progress being made by those AWEsome women and I can’t wait for this collaboration to grow in 2021.
One of the things that was in the back of my mind the whole time was am I fulfilling my purpose. Am I doing what I am good at, what I am passionate about and what brings me joy. I think all of the day job pressures acted as a catalyst to reflect on this for the side hustle as time was so precious. I wanted to make sure that the time and energy I did have available to invest in Cat’s Pajamas was having a positive impact, not just for others but for me. I somehow managed to find the time to join the She Almighty Leadership Mastermind and this really got me thinking. And then the final nudge came from a co-working day (socially distanced of course) with Lee from Sunday Skies.
I realised that what truly makes me happy and where I feel I can have a demonstrable impact, is working with communications professionals who are looking to take the next step in their careers, progress in their leadership journeys and thrive in their roles. I have mentored many communicators over the years and it brings me joy. I feel like my own skills and experience come into play and I can empower and support others to develop and grow.
So, in 2021, Cat’s Pajamas is taking on a new direction. The focus will be on supporting comms pros to thrive through mentoring, collaboration and community. And I can’t wait. I am spending every spare hour working up the various offers that will be available for people and looking at how I can help others to achieve what they want from their careers. And I can’t wait!
I started by mentioning the #smallbiz100, I am so grateful to be part of this, especially in what has been an extremely challenging year for small businesses up and down the country. I want to give every small business owner and sidehustler a massive shout out. Please do all you can to support small businesses. I am so grateful to everyone who has supported me and on the day that celebrated Cat’s Pajamas as part of the #smallbiz100 2020 I was excited to be able to share the news about how we will be growing in the future!