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  • Sarah Black

Five lessons from five years

Here’s a confession. I am not very good at working out dates. I have a terrible memory for them.

So I almost missed the fifth anniversary of my own business.

But here I am, five years later.

Still here.

Athru Communications was born in Texas, from a ‘if not now, when?’ moment. So far, we’ve survived two international relocations and a pandemic that involved trying to keep my business going for four months in a house with no internet and no phone line.

Fun times.

It’s not been easy – but then, no one who strikes out there on their own has an easy time. And certainly, no one had it easy during the pandemic.

But here’s five things I’ve learned.

1. Build a community: In the words of U2, you don’t have to go it alone. If you can’t find a local networking group, create one, whether it's in person, on WhatsApp or Zoom. Those connections matter and they’ll keep you going when you think you’re about to quit. There are so many people without whom I would not have made it this far. I hope you know who you are and how grateful I am but if you don’t, check your inbox this week.

2. Get your own definition of success: forget all those folks who tell you what it means to be successful. It’s your business, you decide. Like so many others, I lost almost every piece of business I had in one week during March 2020. One client kept me going. Keeping going is success. Sometimes getting out of your pyjamas is success. I've learned what success looks like to me.

3. Don’t be afraid to walk away: not every client is a good client. Some might be bad for your mental health. Some might be bad for your credit rating. Yes, the money may be lovely and sometimes, you just need to pay the bills but where there’s a choice, choose the work that brings you joy. It will almost always be about the people you get to work with. Find work and people who share your values. Bonus points if you can laugh together too.

4. Never stop learning: Advita Patel often says you’re either succeeding or learning. 100 per cent agree with that. The stuff that goes wrong can be your best teacher. But I’ve also gained from investing in coaching, reading and getting myself out there to do scary things like in-person networking.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask: for what you want: some of the best experiences I’ve had since I started Athru have come from asking someone about working with them. I’ve slid into a few people’s DMs. Planning to do that a bit more. I’m grateful for the opportunities that have come from taking those risks. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, referrals, business, support or a cuppa with someone you admire.

So, what next, now that Athru Communications is 5?

There’s a podcast starting very soon. Stay tuned for that.

And this - Waterline, a new biweekly newsletter about communicating more effectively across lines of difference (and much less about me than this has been). You can sign up for that now.

A huge thank you to my clients, friends, family, and my partners. It's been a wild ride so far.

Here’s to the next five years.

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