“Well – 10 years – that went fast!
The official birthday for Para-Sols is 1st June, as June 2009 is the month I did my first freelance paraplanning work and was able to do a huge invoice at the end of the month for around £40…
I had, however, been working on the business for 3 months by this point. I had quit my employed paraplanning role, sold my car, and figured the proceeds from the car were sufficient to pay my mortgage and basic expenses for those 3 months, by which point I would surely be living the freelance dream.
In reality, I hadn’t factored in things like needing to eat, and so by the end of the 3 months (end of May), I was completely broke. Literally the most broke I’ve ever been in my life. I was recounting a story the other day of, around this time, feeling depressed that my new business wasn’t going how I wanted, I dug around and found 20p in my flat. Literally the only 20p I had left in the world. And I went to Greggs to treat myself to an iced split which I recalled being 17p. But, when I got there, I discovered that, thanks to the wonders of inflation, they were now 25p, and I couldn’t afford one.
I walked down to my Mum’s (obviously couldn’t afford petrol) and sat and cried at the fact I couldn’t even buy a cream cake. She gave me 10p, told me to go and buy one, and then to go and get a job, as I obviously couldn’t carry on like this. I suspect the majority of new businesses go through similar struggles and lows at the beginning, and I can easily see why many people would choose to stop at this point. I almost did.
Fortunately for me (not so fortunately for the people who have to deal with me on a daily basis), my intense stubbornness wouldn’t let me quit just yet. I managed to get a repayment holiday on my mortgage, did some part-time waitressing (terribly) to feed myself, and, at the end of that month, was able to do my first invoice… and away we went.
And what a ten years since! So many highs, so many challenges, so many lessons learned, and the ability to meet and work with so many wonderful people along the way. I’ll be forever grateful to those who have taken a chance on me and Para-Sols; the team, especially the early employees (I’m looking at you Jo Campbell) for taking the risk of joining a fledgling company. And the clients that give us the opportunity to support them and their businesses, and understood when the inevitable growing pains hit and things sometimes got difficult.
There’s an old adage that ‘overnight success’ actually takes 10 years to achieve… and I have felt every day of those 10 years to get to where we are now! But where we are is somewhere phenomenal, with a huge amount to still look forward to as we build out the businesses within The Verve Group over the coming 10 years.
So Happy Birthday Para-Sols; thank you to everyone that has supported us, and roll on the next 10 years! Time for an iced split or two I think…”