I blogged for EntreArchitect, the brainchild of Mark R LePage and now a 7000+ strong community of architects worldwide: How to Scale without Growing
Summer saw me busy with builds, supporting clients with their projects under construction. Site meetings scheduled between camping trips and seeing friends who we’d missed out on the year before. With supply chains as unsettled as the weather patterns, delays were inevitable but we got there in the end!
Always looking for the next challenge I settled on a personal one and decided to train for a half marathon, it gave me a focus away from business….work life balance and all that. I ran a 10 miler a few weeks later, once you know you can, you can!
I set some boundaries around meetings, keeping several days free to actually get work done. You make the rules, you break the rules.
I ventured a new offering, my “Briefing and Beginnings workshop” giving families the chance to explore the opportunities and potential of their home with me for a couple of hours.
I made a guest appearance on EntreArchitect’s Context and Clarity daily discussion with Jeff Echols who has hosted the hourly slot daily since the pandemic began and for which many people are grateful.
The beginning of the school year brought back regular working hours and saw me launch a new toolkit of resources for those embarking on, or even midway through their home extension project.
I started a Facebook group to help people get clued up before you begin.
I gained nine 5* Google Reviews.
I developed a collaborative approach with structural engineers Michael Aubrey Partnership to bring structural input to the early stages of design. As well as enabling clients to reduce overall project fees by avoiding duplication of effort.
I worked with business coach Gemma Gilbert and soaked up her brilliance to get all of the other stuff done.
I ran a 100km in October and raised £650 for Breast Cancer Now.
A few challenges:
I took on a little too much work, everyone being at home all the time sent enquiries sky rocketing! Fortunately, I was able to work with others to help me deliver it all.
I didn’t implement my new CAD software, the task seemed mammoth and I didn’t break it down into small enough chunks.
The COVID restrictions meant I wasn’t able to visit previously completed projects as much as I’d hoped to, so the case studies remain outstanding.
What did I learn?
That most things are possible if you put your mind to it.
That content marketing is actually just about sharing value and connecting with people.
That virtual meetings can actually be quite productive and save on travel time!
That systems are key to efficiency and I wouldn’t be without Dubsado.
That I need a little bit of human support too, and am pleased to be working with Admin Lab helping me keep on top of it all.
That maintaining good relationships with contractors is just about picking up the phone.
That sending chocolate brownies to clients in the post when they’re having a rough time is always a winner!
What does 2021 hold?
For me 2021 is about changing focus with my project work and bringing energy retrofit to the table alongside extension projects. I want to help people make their homes greener. I’ll be completing the AECB’s Carbonlite Retrofit Course to develop my knowledge in this area and will be seeking clients who are keen to embrace a sustainable design agenda.
I’ll be implementing the new software I’ve been avoiding, by taking it in bite size chunks, and look forward to seeing the benefits it will bring.
Most importantly? I’ll help my clients get their dream homes built.
It was far from the easiest year, with our kids home for what seemed like eternity, but somehow all that stuff got done. I’m excited to embark on 2021, but far from wishing 2020 away on reflection it’s been quite a success.
2019 was a rewarding year with several projects completing on-site giving me the opportunity to re-visit those clients to find them happy in their “new” homes. Building upon relationships with local contractors it has been good to see them continue to perform well, as well as to work together at an early stage to help bring more certainty on costs for clients.
Running a business alongside a hectic family life is no mean feat, so I set a goal for 2019 to streamline my business admin in order to claw back a few hours. I was delighted to work with Bethany Rosindell of DayEight https://www.dayeight.co.uk/ towards the end of the year who has been expertly assisting with the creation of my CRM/Project management tool in order to allow me more time for the important stuff – design and project delivery. Bethany’s background in architecture was instrumental in getting me all set up for a successful, and slightly more organised 2020!
The year culminated with a focus on really considering what I love to do and who for – a journey that has brought me to an understanding that small or everyday projects don’t have to be mundane. In fact, the joy of turning around a regular home into a place that brings families together with a better way of living is hugely rewarding. As such, I’m approaching 2020 with a clear message that I’m an architect for everyday families who want to re-think the way they live. I’m bringing creativity to the everyday. It’s not big, it’s not flashy, just well-designed and making a difference.