It’s official. Yesterday I was awarded Cumbria Business Woman of the Year 2011 by the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce.
I’m absolutely over the moon. Little did I know when I started out looking after a single cottage that eight years later we’d have 160 cottages on the books. It’s been hard work and there have been times when I wanted to run away (not that I don’t love what I do of course). But it’s paid off and it’s absolutely fantastic to have that recognition with this award. Because that’s the other thing about running your own business, there’s no-one above you to say ‘well done’… that said, I do have a folder full of all the lovely emails people send after staying at one of our Lake District cottages.
If I may, I would like to share four things that I think are important to make a business successful.
The first is to expect hard work and to realise that it’s not possible to have it all. Two days after Daisy was born, Rob (my husband) came into the hospital and said ‘Sally, the phones are really busy, you’re going to have to come back now’. Fortunately she slept a lot in a basket by my desk.
The second is to understand your market. I think that women tend to have the final say when choosing a holiday cottage and so we have designed the website with women in mind. A lot of the websites that are around are blocky and masculine, you can tell that they have been commissioned and designed by men. If anyone reading this has any ideas that would make our website more user-friendly, I’d really like to hear from you.
The third is that you can never sit still. Attitudes and ways of doing things are always changing. This year particularly we’ve found that a lot of you would prefer to come and stay at one of the holiday cottages for three or four nights rather than a full week. So now many of our Lake District cottages offer this for you. In fact we still have some great Christmas short breaks available if anyone is thinking of coming away.
Finally, I have had to learn the art of delegating which has been really hard for me. Once the business got to a certain point, there was no way I could do it all myself. It’s hard to let go, but you just have to do it. And actually I have a sneaking suspicion that the others in the office are much better at what they do than me in many ways, not to mention all the people who clean and maintain the cottages too.
Anyway, enough tips and advice, most of you reading this are looking to come on holiday and stay in one of our Lake District Cottages to forget about work and business. I am thrilled though and couldn’t help sharing!
If you would like to view our press release about the Business Woman of the Year 2011 award, just click on the text link.