Introducing Eighteen Forty Four Ltd

I’m a self-confessed (and very happy) introvert and if I was thinking of having a fun birthday, the last thing I would normally consider doing would be spending any of it with a bunch of random strangers…. or at least it would have been, until Monday morning when I committed to spending the first part of my birthday having breakfast with a group of people I don’t know talking about a Personal and Business Coaching company I’ve only just started.

So what changed?

Well, on Monday morning I was doing some work on my “business plan on a page” and the little phrase “Walk my talk” kept staring at me. It’s something that I really believe in doing; being true to myself and living my values. I’ve been working on my business for the last 6 months but the intention was to kick it off properly after RAAM – sort out a website and social media presence, do some marketing and get properly underway. And there it is, that word “marketing”…. Actually telling people who I am and what I do. Having a website is great, as is being on LinkedIn and Facebook but unless people know you’re there it’s a bit pointless. “People buy people” and the only way to get clients is to go out there and talk to people – that “networking” word which you get coming at you from every angle when you are starting your own business.

I used to go to networking events back in my corporate days and hated them. They terrified me more than throwing myself out of a perfectly serviceable aircraft armed only with a large piece of silk. Even going to things like the London Vet Show or large CPD events with a group of people I didn’t know scared me and they were all vets for goodness sake.

I told myself that I would start networking next month. I wasn’t ready; I needed to get my branding and website sorted, get all my material written, talk to some more people about how they’d started, read a book on networking…. Basically anything apart from actually doing it.

And then I thought about RAAM. That was the biggest, scariest thing in my life and yet about 4 years ago I randomly started telling people that I was going to try and ride across America in 12 days. People thought I was crazy but I wasn’t scared to tell them. Why? Because I was being myself, I was walking my talk and doing something slightly bonkers. It gave me a sense of purpose and was just part of my identity. Yes, starting my own business is a massive scary goal, but so was RAAM. Did I ever feel ready for RAAM? No, not until I was on the road but it didn’t stop me starting.

Well here’s the thing…. Eighteen Forty Four Ltd is about helping people, teams and organisations to do the things that inspire them; to challenge their beliefs about themselves and in doing so, to enable them to do the things that they only dare dream about. It’s about the magic that happens far beyond your comfort zone and trusting yourself enough to take that first step to get there and taking it now.

“But I’m not ready” I hear you say and I understand. I’m not ready either… I’ve got an assortment of qualifications and experience, but my business plan is scrawled across various pieces of paper, I’ve no logo or branding and my website and Facebook page still refer to the event that happened the last time I had a crazy idea. For me, “being ready” would mean having all my business ducks neatly in a row but does this make me more likely to succeed? No. What really counts is that I’m passionate about what I want to do, hungry to learn and curious about where I’m going. RAAM taught me to let go of outcomes and embrace what unfolds before me.

It was with all this in mind that I pondered the phrase “Walk my talk” on Monday, gave myself a good talking-to and Googled “networking in Reading”. It was time to tell people what I’m passionate about and to get out there and do what I do because I believe in it. There was, ironically, an 4Networking breakfast event locally this morning and it seemed the perfect way to “launch” Eighteen Forty Four.

I was strangely energised this morning as I headed into the Holiday Inn in Reading. Still a bit nervous, but somehow going to talk about myself was a lot easier than going to make small talk or sell things. I met some lovely people, made some useful contacts, had a good breakfast, stood up and told everyone about my business, did some 1-2-1s …. And talked about RAAM! Not only that but they’ve asked me to be their “speaker” next month and do a little talk about RAAM which is awesome. I came away with a big smile on my face and chuckling at myself. Next time won’t be half as scary and in the meantime the wonderful Malcolm and Judith at Splash of Paint will help bring the Eighteen Forty Four brand to life and there will eventually be business cards that don’t refer to websites and profiles that are principally about cycling long distances. In the meantime, however, I’m happy for people to see that side of me.

So there we go, I’ve told a bunch of random strangers and now I’m telling all of you! Some of you have known about my coaching journey from the start and some of you have shared it with me. It’s not about coaching in the sports sense, there are no training or nutrition plans, no power zones or tests. It’s about having a powerful conversation about your goals and dreams and unlocking the potential inside you to turn them into reality whether as an individual with a personal goal or as a small business owner wanting to maximise their own performance and that of their team.

To those that know the RAAM story, you may have guessed where the company name came from. It used to be Penny Barker Ltd but somehow that never felt quite right. Eighteen Forty Four has a real story behind it which epitomises what it’s about as a company; reaching for the stars and not being afraid to fall short because you’ll still end up somewhere wonderful. For me, it’s about inspiring and empowering people through what I do, what I write and my coaching, personal and team development work. The Eighteen Forty Four is my own personal development story; I want to help you write yours.

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