2020 Review – A surprisingly good year!

Today I joined a 2021 Badass Planning Session, and we kicked off my looking back over 2020. It’s tempting to swipe 2020 under the rug and forget about it, but I absolutely refuse to do that. So it was soooo nice to realise how well this year has gone, despite some fairly big hurdles (that’s an understatement by the way!)

[This post is very much biz focused. There have also been lots of highlights outside of work but I appreciate that my youngest learning to walk is more interesting to me than you!]

(More than) a few wins

Started my business On the 7th January, Nate started nursery and I sat down to figure out how you actually start a business! I posted this on LinkedIn and felt so nervous at putting myself out there, which seems funny looking back as I’m much more confident with LinkedIn now.

Found lots of tribes Topping my ‘con’ list for going solo was that I might get lonely. I loved working in a team and I was worried that I’d miss that camaraderie. What I never expected was that I’d end up feeling part of lots of teams and having multiple Christmas parties! A quickly fired off post in the Doing It For The Kids Facebook group was answered by two lovely people who have become friends and colleagues, and has led to me knowing a wider group of freelance researchers. I’ve met so many wonderful ladies through Gemma Gilbert’s membership and some of those have spilled over into IRL friends thanks to us living close to each other. I’ve also loved becoming part of the Afortiori Development team, and being reunited with colleagues old and new at the Leicester Diabetes Centre.

Invested in myself Another thing I never expected was how much personal development I’d seek out, do and enjoy! I’ve already got two programmes lined up for the new year so I can’t wait to learn even more.

Started my Facebook group The Health Researcher Hub was an idea that bubbled away for a long time before it started. I already love the community we’ve got in there and I’ve got more plans for it for next year!

Worked with lots of lovely clients At the beginning of the year, I had a vague idea that I should aim for 10 clients to diversify who I was working with. It’s ended up being more like 25 with a mix of consultancy and coaching clients. I’m closing out the year with 5 researchers currently working through my one-to-one programme, which is the most I’ve worked with at any one time so far. I’m really hoping to build on this next year because I love to see their progress over the 12 weeks that we work together.

Got featured on BBC 6 Music This is my actual win of the year obviously. Lauren Laverne said my name!

A few learnings

Sometimes things aren’t as bad as they seem April was a disaster in a way. I had no clients and no work. But things turned around in May and I haven’t looked back. It feels surreal now to think of the days where I was fitting my working hours around my husband’s job, so I’d work 5-9am then try to keep 3 small kids entertained and homeschooled without being able to leave the house, before doing the second half of my day 5-7pm then kid’s bed time then back to work. (This isn’t a reflection of the childcare balance in our house – my husband just had set hours whereas I was more flexible)

Sometimes not knowing everything is a good thing My husband was made redundant completely unexpectedly thanks to the pandemic, which meant that I was suddenly the sole earner. If I’d have known that was going to happen, I would never have taken the risk of starting my business. I’m soooo glad I didn’t know that was going to happen as it’s the best decision I’ve ever made! He’s now found a new job so I’m back to part time hours for 2021.

Sometimes you should just stick with what you know well I love doing ALL THE THINGS, so my initial plan was for my business to cover lots of different things and be full of variety. I had lots of going back and forth and eventually focused in on medical statistics. This is where my heart lies and where my experience is. I haven’t looked back since making that decision. Now I get the variation mainly through doing a mix of consultancy work and one-to-one statistics coaching, and this combination is working well.

Things I’m working towards in 2021

Blogging baby! I’ve enjoyed getting into the flow of writing again recently with posts on preparing your data for analysis and systematic reviews, as well as a guest blog on the Research Whisperer about getting confident with stats. So my plan is to kick 2021 with a flurry of new blog posts.

Courses/workshops I enjoyed the Linear Regression Masterclass that I ran in October so I’m brewing up ideas to do more of this sort of thing. They might be live workshops or pre-recorded courses that you can work through in your own time. Watch this space!

Subcontracting I’m lucky to have found a few fantastic researchers who have joined my small team of contractors so that I can take on more consultancy work. I hate turning down work that I know we can deliver well, so I’m looking to expand that team a bit in 2021 so that I can build both sides of my business together.

I don’t feel like I’ve scratched the surface

I’m really surprised at how much I could have written down here, and that’s a take away in itself. At times this year has felt crushingly hard. There have been lots of tears, sleepless nights and heartache. But there have also been some brilliant highs, lots of laughs, and thoughtfulness that has melted my heart. And first steps for both me and Nate…

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