Sometimes things that seem less than ideal at the time can lead to all sorts of good: and so it was for me, last summer. I ceased to work for a company I've been associated with for some time, which got me thinking about what I represent, both on the water and off.
Then, beginning the process of becoming a British Canoeing Coach Award Provider helped me to develop my thinking about my 'coaching philosophy': What do I stand for, and how do I deliver that to my clients?
The debate will probably go on for me throughout my coaching and business life. But the constant for me is two-fold:
That same discussion with myself also led me to develop my business, and to begin the process of qualifying as a Personal Trainer: more on that later in the year!
Going through this debate led me to the conclusion that the way I represented myself- my brand, to coin a marketing phrase- no longer really represented what I do, or what I stand for. So, where to begin? With visuals, and a new logo...
My previous logo was designed by the extraordinary Jamie Hageman, so it seemed appropriate to use the work of another artist for the new version. I approached someone whose work really resonates with me: Amy Dunis, of Adventurous Pencil, to produce a new logo for me.
Amy took a long look at what I do, and came up with what I think is a lovely representation of it in visual form.
The image uses two symbols intertwined: the wave, and the infinity symbol.
A wave, you might think is obvious. I'm a sea kayak coach. There's nothing I love more than surfing a wave, in all its forms. However, I'm also fascinated by all the forms waves can take, and what they represent; the way they propagate after formation; that they are simply a physical manifestation of energy travelling through water; that they keep going, no matter what: a symbol of determination and continuation. If you're a wave geek, like me, check out The Wavewatcher's Companion. The sea itself is ever-present, the tides moving constantly, ever-adapting to the land they meet along the way.
Infinity is of course a mathematical symbol: I started life with a love for maths & science. But infinity also represents a never-ending energy and courage, the infinite value of growth, independence, knowledge & understanding.
Lastly, the two combined are just a little like the Koru, the Maori fern, symbol of nurturing and positive change. I first experienced the joy of sea kayaking in New Zealand, so I'm delighted that just a hint of that country's culture appears in the design.
I hope you like it... Watch this space for more developments throughout 2019!
Since my last post, it's fair to say a lot has happened! I was a little nervous of posting it, not sure how it would be received: I needn't have worried. I've had countless messages of support and empathy, offers of ideas, and messages from others in the same situation.
So I thought I would share some of the developments I've made, and things I've learned in the last month.
Firstly, I've made a lot of progress with the way I run my business. The biggest step was simply admitting to myself that it is a business, and I'm not 'just self employed'. That has taken something of a mindset-shift, and a spoonful or two of confidence. I decided to work as though I was setting up from scratch, and that decision has paid off.
I have also decided to rebrand my business. For now, I will just leave the new logos and name here, and will talk more about that in a future post.
I've taken several steps to automate my business processes, such as adding a calendar to my website, and an automated booking form. Most importantly, I've signed up to two things that are helping a lot with automation: Quickbooks Self Employed, for accounts & finances, and Mailchimp, for marketing. Amazingly, Mailchimp can do what I need it to do, for free!
I approached several people for advice: a couple of experienced friends who run their own businesses, and a highly respected paddler & coach who has agreed to act as a mentor to me over this next stage of my career.
Most usefully of all, I made an appointment with a Business Advisor at Business Gateway. This fantastic service is open to anyone north of the border who is self employed or runs a small business, and they offer much more than just classroom courses. They can give advice, and they can set up arrangements with specialist advisers, free of charge, to help achieve what you need. We're very lucky to have access to the service in Scotland.
And for me, the biggest learning of the last month: I need to give myself a break, be good to myself. I care, very much, and I hope that all of these things will help me to give my clients a better service too. That may mean waiting a little for an email reply, while I take the dog for a walk, go for a run or a paddle, or drink coffee with a friend. These things are trying at the time, but I've come out fired up and more enthusiastic than ever: I look forward very much to seeing you on the water!