So Amna, who are you?
Hi there, thanks for having me. I’m Amna Hasan. I’m from Write It Up and I am a brand journalist. I suppose the best way to describe that is that I’m your brand storyteller.
So, depending on what medium you’re using, whether it’s your socials or your proposals or your pitch decks, it’s for me to showcase your brand and get your messaging right and your tone of voice right. And really get your personality flowing through your words. I tend to mainly work with consultants and coaches in that regard because it’s so important for them to have that kind of clear brand identity and presence out there as well.
So Amna, what has been your biggest success?
Gosh, I think my biggest success has been that I’m still here! I know it sounds like one of those things, but I set up my business over a year ago and, at the time, I didn’t really know what to expect.
I set this up as a freelancer, to do in between school runs, and it didn’t really have a purpose; it didn’t have any strategy. And then, by the time it had some sort of strategy, COVID hit and I was left with about four months of having zero work and just crying myself to sleep at night.
But I think, for me, the biggest success has been that, you know what, despite all of that I’m here.
I’m now at the point where I’m very clear on what I want to do, in some ways… I probably will look back at this period quite fondly and go, right, you know what? It allowed me to have that breathing space and actually forced me to commit to what I wanted to do.
And being a brand journalist was a huge part of that. It was my why, and my purpose which came out from all of that. And now, I’m very clear on where I need to be.
Obviously, there’ve been challenges along the way, but it’ll be a case of me going forwards and saying, right, this is exactly who I wanted to be all along but it just took me a long time to get there. I think this year really affirmed that for me.
I love that you’re in a place right now where you’re already saying, “I’m going to look back on that fondly.” I think that’s absolutely the right attitude.
It’s been a hell of a year for a lot of people, I know that, and I suppose I can call myself fortunate that I am in a place where I can still be creative with the way that I can just rebrand or rethink it, because I know a lot people have been established for a while and have really struggled with their model.
And, I suppose that’s where the support of a community like BBB comes in, as well, where I’ve just been able bounce off so many ideas and have those meltdowns where I don’t know what I’m doing. “Pick up the phone, Tracey!”
I think everyone’s had at least one meltdown at some point in their journey.
So, biggest challenge – what’s that then?
I think for me, obviously the year has been tough, but I think the biggest thing for me is that expectation that I’d set for myself.
Initially, when I started it wasn’t going to be much of anything, but then, I’ve not really got anybody in my family who runs a business. They’re all either economists or accountants or, you know, people in stable jobs that are doing well for themselves. And for me, I think I’d put loads of expectation on myself that I needed to be a certain way or perform a certain way and hit my goals a certain way.
And with that, when you’re not performing or at the level that you think, you get quite frustrated with that. And as a person, you know, you feel like, gosh, this isn’t really who I need to be. And then obviously that has an impact on your personal and other relationships that you have brewing around that.
And for me, that was the biggest thing – that I felt like I was letting myself down, letting other people down and then not having that clear vision of where I wanted to be for a while.
But I feel like I’ve slightly come out the other side of that, to put a positive spin. I mean, there are still wobbles, like you said, you know, there’s always a meltdown moment. But I think now, I’m kind of like, you know what, that expectation I set for myself is because I wanted to be the best version of this, like whatever I have right now.
I don’t know what that looks like, say, 12 months down the line, but those challenges have kind of forced me to reckon with whether I wanted to pack it all up or keep going. And I’ve wanted to keep going, which tells me that I’m in the right place and exactly where I need to be.
And the fact that you are here fighting, and the fact that you’ve had those days where you want to give in and you don’t, is hitting that standard in itself.
For me, that fight, that grit, is what really makes business owners succeed. Not everybody has it. I think you should be really proud of yourself.
Setting up your business was a real leap of faith for you and you’ve not looked back. You’ve embraced everything. You’ve shown up for everything. You show up for your goal setting and it’s paid off. You honestly deserve the success you’re having now.
Oh, thank you. And I guess this segues nicely into, ‘What would you advise other people to do?’
For me, it’s invest in yourself, and it is a leap of faith. With everything I’ve done, I’ve always been a big believer in trusting my gut. When it hasn’t felt right, I’ve moved away from it. And initially, I think I came to you last September when we did a Discovery Day and I didn’t even have a name for my company.
You were a little bit like a rabbit in the headlights.
I was, and I was looking around and I was so completely overwhelmed by all these people who had it all together.
I remember thinking, gosh, I don’t know if I’m destined to be a business owner or this, that, and the other. It was a complete leap of faith to go, right, you know what? I need a coach, I need that community, I need somebody I can go to and ask the stupid questions and they will tell me they’re stupid questions and then tell me to get on with it. Or, you know, just snap out of it, just get on with it. And I’ve really, really had that from BBB.
I think you’re right, it’s hard to explain how that community can help you, but it’s just that case of when you’re low, when you need something, or even like the other day when I talked about my branding with you guys. That feedback is so crucial because, as a small business owner, you’re very alone. And it can feel like it’s just you with the weight of the world on your shoulders and it helps take some of that burden away.
And for me, the biggest takeaway has been invest in yourself, whether it’s through a coaching community, or rebranding, or networking.
I’ve got a brilliant network with BNI and lots of other places that I’ve just really heavily invested in during lockdown – one and two. So, it’s a case of just trying, I think – don’t give up on that. And if it feels like, after you’ve tried all of that, and it’s not working, then I can kind of get it. But I tried it and it worked and it was kind of like, the rest is history, as they say, and for me, I’m really not looking back from that.
I love it. Amna, it’s been an absolute pleasure, as I knew it would. It’s just a joy to talk to you. I cannot wait to see what the next 12 months brings.