It’s hard to believe that it was 20 years ago today that I started my business. I am celebrating this milestone (made up of so many moments), by sitting at my desk and doing what I do. I am BEYOND grateful to be here (understatement). Also, I am a little shocked…how is it possible that I’m old enough to be reflecting on 20 years in business?
It was November 4, 1994 that Borden Communications officially launched. I invested $7,000 on an IBM Aptiva Computer from Future Shop (I could go and make dinner in the time that one of my graphic files would save) and $400 on business cards that I designed. I had to beg TD Bank for a business account, which took months for them to open for me. I was a small business and those did not really exist (especially a work-at-home-with-no-revenue-solo-female-entrepreneur-with-no-business-plan…and looking back, no clue either). I did understand one thing for certain – there was value in delivering (or over-delivering) on promises, as I had found, in my limited experience, that it was rare that I had not yet collided with anyone using this strategy. Due to the fact that it wasn’t easy to replace suppliers, customers were by default more loyal. Email and the internet were not part of every business. I couldn’t even convince sales reps to come to my office (or take my calls sometimes!) since I was working out of the corner of my one bedroom apartment. Working from home and alone was not commonplace, and they were certain that it wouldn’t be worth their while. Couriers wouldn’t deliver, since trucks at the time wouldn’t go into residential neighbourhoods. I learned to be persuasive. I learned how to get people to take chances, and celebrated when it paid off. Living and working outside the box was exhilarating and also was a model for success. No job was too small, and every job and client was valued – I knew I had to build a foundation of clients that would refer me, when a referral was not simply a virtual click, but a personal interaction. Without social media, and the internet, you HAD to accomplish things between 9 and 5. People went home, and didn’t multitask like we do now (that has pros and cons, like anything). Without email and the cloud, we had to save and send files correctly the first time, because things were sent by courier, which meant mistakes cost time and money. I learned very quickly to triple check my work so I could meet impossible deadlines. Without Google, I had to use yellow pages to source what I was looking for, and when the person or company on the other end of the phone couldn’t help me, I learned to ask them for help in next steps. I learned quickly how to connect with people and how to help them, help me, and then learned how to send and share a thank you. Without virtual networking, I had to meet people in person, or connect with them on the phone. It was an easier time in many ways for authenticity and transparency to exist since we had less to hide behind, but was more challenging to reach the masses quickly. I felt small and the world felt huge.
Now, I sit here and I realize that as I’ve grown both personally and professionally, the world has gotten small and smaller, and our connection to each other is very real. We all collide with each other in so many different ways and in so many real and virtual places. After 20 years running my own business, I know that I am anything but “on my own”. I continue to understand that when good people, doing good things stick together, good will result.
So, I thank you for being “here” for me. Your enthusiasm and support has kept me busy, challenged, engaged and you are the reason that I remain passionate about all that I do, and that I am inspired to do more.
A few years ago I wrote this Pledge to “C”, and I wanted to share it again, as it still governs all we do underground at Borden Communications + Design Inc. headquarters.
Commit: I will continue to commit myself to being a champion for change and your biggest champion too.
Care: I will continue to care about you and your business as if it were my own, because we’re all in this together.
Communicate: I will continue to communicate candidly (read: no bullshit). I pledge to always tell people what I believe they should hear rather than what they want to hear.
Capacity: I will continue to try and expand my capacity for tolerance and patience, and expand my capacity for new information to be able to give you more.
Community: I will continue to build my own community and to enrich the community at large. I will continue to support you in growing your own community.
Connect: I will continue to connect you with others who can support you and who you can support, bringing about mutually beneficial relationships.
Charity: I will continue to devote myself to pro-bono/volunteer work, because passion-based, work makes me happy, and generosity and philanthropy make our world a better place.
Clarity: I will continue to confuse you, but only in order to bring about clarity.
Change: I will continue to change myself, and will also continue to promote change in your life and work.
Coach, Consult, Concierge: I will continue to work to offer the best “Triple C Service” to you. I will continue to ensure that the strategic blend of all of these roles working together for you, increases your efficiencies, revenue, health and happiness. And we all want more of that, right?
Common Sense: I will continue to believe that we all just need to use our own common sense to make our own best choices.
Create: I will continue to find a way to create even more titles, relationships and positions to add to my list.
Choices: I will continue to applaud your choices, and I will continue to offer you choices based on what is right for you.
Champion: I will continue to try and be your biggest champion. It’s so much fun. Thank you for the opportunity.
Life and work is about hanging on, letting go, holding back, giving it all, staying put and making change. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I’ve had over the past 20 years, and definitely have at least another 20 in me, so let’s get busy. Together.
If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito.- African Proverb