Celebrating LBWco’s 13th birthday recently with our team was certainly a heartfelt moment for our small business given the economic conditions currently faced by so many SMEs. It gave me cause to reflect on how our business has grown and evolved since my husband Jarrod Bishop and I founded it in 2007, and what we have learned about ourselves along the way.
What a ride it has been! Twists and turns, chances and changes!
With relationships and problem solving at the heart of our business from the start, some of the changes we embraced were as a result of demand for our services by clients whose operations spanned far and wide. We quickly grew the size and capability of the team, developed best practice processes and systems, and adopted a pace that has seen us deliver thousands of projects and proposals since we started. It is a remarkable feat for a team of twelve!
Steering the business into opportunities while times are good and economic conditions robust is one thing but leading when times are tough, and uncertainty prevails, takes a different mix of skills and tenacity. Some of the changes seen in our business over the past 13 years have been the product of our environment (pun intended), including the recent challenges and uncertainty we faced as a result of Covid-19.
One of my mantras is to start as you intend to finish, so we set out with a vision to unite progress in Australia with a sustainable environment and a determination to persevere through both good and bad times. While I imagined many things that would come to pass after we left our employed positions all those years ago to start our own company, there were certainly just as many that I did not foresee. All of them shaping us, stimulating us, and propelling us ever forward.
As we hit our teenage years in business, the more I reflected on our past, the more I realised that many of the emotions and experiences I have had as the founder and CEO of LBWco, are the same as many of those I had raising my five children. We are family.
Just like when you give birth to a new baby you become a family of more than just two people, and you forevermore have something that is bigger than just you. You nurture it and see it grow, walk and occasionally scrape a knee. You invest time into it, seek opportunities for it, and at times feel uncertain about its direction as it matures. There is a constant rollercoaster of conversations, debates, deals, and people through the door. Of course, above all, you are so very thankful to be part of all it has become.
Here are five emotions that I experienced raising my family and running a business that I am sure all parents and business owners have encountered.
There is no greater joy than seeing something that you created, thrive – baby or business. While the worry lines are sometimes there, think toddler tantrums or the effects of a global pandemic, the heartfelt, slow-burn type of joy, inevitably always returns with an unrivalled sense of reward and satisfaction.
Whether it’s the eve of your child’s first day at school or a stressful management decision, sleepless nights are common place for parents and business owners alike. Embracing the uncertainty is however part of the job requirement, and a great opportunity to add to your skill matrix! My attempts to control some of the anxiety have been rewarded with my reputation as an effective communicator, strategic planner, and risk mitigator.
Having a shared purpose is what drives both Jarrod and I in our business, and as parents. Every day, I have at least one person in the world standing alongside me who is as invested as I am. It’s a game changer! At LBWco, our shared purpose it to solve problems that make our clients lives easier. At home it is about raising our children to be the best people they can be. At a personal level, being able to steer and cheer my children and my LBWco team gives me a reason to get up each day and put my high heels on.
Covid-19 has given many of us new perspectives in fear and loss of control. For me, as I wrote in my previous blog ‘Home & Back Again’, the health and safety of our team at LBWco was our first priority. For a number of weeks, we also had all of the children studying and working from home to ensure their safety (there was a computer in almost every room of the house!) and following the necessary lock down, physical distancing and hygiene requirements become part of daily life. From a business viability perspective, the fear was comparable to when we first started out – what if what we are doing isn’t enough? What if we fail? Will everyone be ok? Our sense of control was even less certain than usual and the ‘what ifs’ crept in to frighten us all. I am sure every new parent can recall a time when they wondered just how they would be able to protect and provide for the baby that relied on them for survival – and then got on with the best job possible. Owning a business during a global pandemic feels a bit the same.
An unwavering belief that there will always be another good day, and a genuine sense of positivity for the future are part of my makeup now. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for my five children, three of whom are wonderful adults who now live out of home. As I document the next strategic plan for LBWco, and prepare to grow the team yet again, I wonder about the new things that I am envisaging that come to pass, and those I won’t foretell. What will I be reflecting on 5, 10 or 15 years from now? Only time will tell, but I plan to enjoy the ride with those around me.