This week marks Elm’s third birthday. Three years! Where does the time go?
When I started in 2018, I just wanted a bit of a break out of the public service. I wanted to try something different. I gave myself twelve months to see I could make it work. Now, after 77 projects with 30 clients, it’s bigger and better than I ever expected.
Every day I get to see across the public service, working with big departments through to micro-agencies. I poke my head out of the “Canberra bubble” as I work with the private sector and not for profit organizations. I have done some amazing things like delivering facilitation training and a conference in the Cook Islands, working with a great team to deliver a machinery of government change, and running creative thinking training in an aquarium!
It hasn’t been an easy ride. It has been a lot of hard work. I have been on a steep learning curve about running a business (and I still am). I’ve had to figure out how to market myself when I hate talking about myself. I have over-committed and worked all weekend to meet a deadline. And cried when a little pandemic dried up all of my face to face work.
What have I learnt along the way? I think the two biggest lessons are trusting my gut and learning when to say no to a job that’s not right for me, and having confidence in my own ability. If you asked me three years ago if I was good at communications, I would have made some self-deprecating comment or a joke. Now I am better about talking about my abilities and taking a compliment.
What is my favourite thing about my job? I have also discovered that my favourite projects are those that I do with others and have created a fun little tribe that I call on when I need to pull in specialist expertise for a project. I have also found the joy of writing. It was never one of my strengthens, but it is something that I have just kept practising with my weekly blog.
Do I regret my choice to leave my public service job? Never. I recently went back to my old office and have never had a stronger sense of deja vu. It was like nothing had changed, and if I had stayed, neither would have I. Instead, I have learnt more in the last three years than in the last decade. I am absolutely a better professional for having such a wide variety of experiences. For me, it was absolutely the right choice.
What does the future hold for Elm? I get asked this question a lot. I don’t really know – I know in business you are supposed to have a five-year plan, but that’s just not me right now. I am not in a rush to expand, but that means my capacity will always be limited. I feel that I am still learning how to run a business, so I am focused on that right now and getting a bit of consistency after 2020 changed the playing field.
Thanks as always to all of Elm’s many supporters. Please keep sharing, liking and commenting on the socials. Sharing our name with anyone that needs communications support and calling when you need some help yourself! We won’t make it to our 4th birthday without you all!