A year ago this week Stef joined me full-time at Makelight. At the time we didn't really know what that would mean. How long would he stay? Was he building something for me or for both of us? Would people take him seriously if he was working on his wife's passion project? What would the Makelight community think of him? Was he going to stay behind the scenes or join me in teaching and building the community? And of course, could we work together full-time and spend all day, every day together?
A year on I don't think either of us can quite believe what we've managed to achieve and at the same time we feel like we've literally just started. It has been an amazing year, even if it's been the most risky thing we've ever done. And if you know anything about the things we've done in the past, we've taken plenty of risks!
It's been an amazing year but I think we both know that we've got an even bigger, better one starting right now.
Last month we started a regularly Lecture series for the Makelight Members. We invite Members to suggest topics for us to talk about. This week I gave a talk about how I started Makelight and some big things that I have learnt over the past five years, so I thought I would share these with you too as they might inspire you.
I started Makelight with a notebook of ideas and a Typepad blog. I had a plan about where I wanted to go and what I wanted to achieve but I didn't wait until everything was in place. I just started.
It would have been really easy for me to plan and plan and fill notebook after notebook for at least a couple of years. But starting my blog, trying things out and starting with just one workshop that I mentioned on Twitter and my blog meant that I was building something right from the word go. And I was building an audience around this too.
Start small. Find something in all that you want to do and start doing it. Even if it feels like the smallest of steps, you are moving. These small steps and mini launches can start to tell you so much about what you enjoy, what you find hard and easy, and what your current audience respond to.
Just starting and small launches have to be one of my favourite things. And I love how the world we live in now works so well for this. You can literally put something out onto the internet within minutes. And there is nothing wrong with trying something out and leaving it if it doesn't work.
Quit What Doesn't Work
Which leads me onto the next big thing I have learnt. Let go of what isn't working. The faster you can pivot, the better you will react and grow. Working with Stef has helped us both so much with this. Working with someone you trust 100% is so good for making decisions together that sometimes feel crazy or scary. And we both know that there will be no blame if we make the wrong decision. We'll both learn from it and move on.
Last year we took on a bigger studio, only to realise just a couple of months later that we were moving so quickly from physical workshops to online ones that we just didn't need the studio. It felt kind of crazy to let go of something that had been so central to my early plans and a place that had really helped Makelight to grow. But it just didn't make sense anymore. Yes, I'm sure we'll have a space again in the future but right now we're enjoying working from home and supporting people all over the world.
I used to worry that I would run out of ideas or run out of time to make my ideas happen. But I soon realised that if you are open to having ideas, the ideas don't run out. You get new ones! That is particularly cool and handy when someone copies something you've done. They don't have your next idea!
But a constant flow of ideas can also be really draining and cause you to feel like you're all over the place. Ideas are important and it's a good idea to keep open to ideas but it's important to put these ideas somewhere and focus, focus, focus on the main thing you are doing right now.
Choose one thing and make that your thing. There will be time for other things but only if you make this one work! Or prove it doesn't work and move onto a different one. But focus is super important.
Over the past year we've spread ourselves way to thin at times. We knew it was happening and had some seriously crazy mind map moments trying to get our heads around it! At times there wasn't much we could do about it. We've bootstrapped Makelight so far, so sometimes we've had to try and do too many things simply to make it work.
But we've been working really hard over the past few months to focus on the Membership, so we could get to the point (last month...hooray!) where we could turn Makelight into a subscription business with everything in the Makelight Membership.
I cannot wait to work on all that we have planned over the next year. Working with my best friend, on something that we both really love is a wonderful thing indeed. xo