As the year draws to a close, I get very sentimental and nostalgic about the last 12 months. And I have more reason to be in awe about this past year than almost any other. Here are the top 5 things that have happened to me/Skimbit in 2007:
1. Turned 30
Every woman dreads it. Whilst men seemingly gain wisdom and respectability, woman fear they will lose attractiveness and ‘settle’. Considering that the year saw me still working full time while building Skimbit in Sydney, there was an element of this. I had little money to spend on finery, and Sydney was suffocating me with its ‘settling’ perogative. Then the advent of turning 30 in January sent me in a flurry of ‘shoulds’. I should have been a millionaire by 30 already. I should feel totally happy and fulfilled. It was scary stuff, any one that says otherwise is to be doubted.
Then, I turned 30. And things started to change. I realised I was still as energetic, vibrant, and capable as all those twenty-somethings, but boy did I trump them in terms of experience. I realised you only age when you let yourself, and I was certainly not going to start then. I danced and revelled and twirled and lived extraordinarily, and now realise the gift of 30 is acceptance, less self-hate, and wonderful clarity. Plus a great party on yacht on Sydney harbour!
2. Met my developers
The risk of choosing to have your website developed offshore is that they do not feel part of your organisation. They don’t see you, they don’t hear you, they don’t get paid directly by you. Its near impossible to impart your company’s culture and ideals purely via a Skype chat session. But when you are boot-strapped, you just have to try. So I did… I bought them vouchers to have massages, I gave them bonuses, I even gave them equity, everything I could to make them feel that Skimbit’s success was also their success.
However, the crowning act was booking a flight to see them. That meant flying to literally the other side of the planet, from Sydney to Bucharest: not an inconsequential task. But joyfully done, and the rewards made it worthwhile. You get to bond with your extended team in way that text-based communication can never achieve. You get to know them and what motivates them. You get to understand their work conditions… it all makes a difference in the end, not only to how they feel, but how you communicate with them going forward. I have been back now a second time, to celebrate the launch of Skim-in-a-box launch, which we did in hearty style!
I had been working so stupidly hard. Can I even begin to impress how hard it is to work a full-time job, and then start a business up in your spare hours, whilst living alone. I had the gift of amazing friends and family, but it was still lonely, tiring work. So, when a few different goals coalesced into a real plan to head around the world for 7 weeks, it seemed like what my soul needed. I felt so stuck in a rut – Skimbit was up and running, but it was in very much an alpha state, and I just didn’t see how things could change. So, I packed my backpack, and headed over to Munich, as you do.
I planned to visit my developers in Romania, reunite with my old home of London, and be bridesmaid at a wedding in Vancouver. So, if I was to buy a round-the-world ticket, I may as well take advantage of it and fit a few other places in. And so I did, also squeezing in Munich, Berchtesgarten, Vienna, Madrid and Ibiza into that mad glorious trip.
That trip represents one of the most significant phases of my life. You know when you feel some divine power has finally decided to cast their eye on you and make things happen that move your soul and test your mettle. Well, this was it. At the end of that trip I felt so intensely alive, blessed, and empowered. It was JUST what I needed, particularly as that trip also led to the biggest change of my life, which was…
4. Moved back to London
During the aforementioned trip, while in London, the wildest set of events happened that led to me presenting the newly conceived concept of Skim-in-a-box to potential clients, who loved it and signed up for it on the spot. As a result of that success, and the adoration I felt being back in London, I made an instant and never-doubted decision to leave my family, friends and life in Sydney, again, and move back to London to pursue what was undeniably a more lucrative and buoyant web application sphere. In the space of one month, literally, I worked full-time, developed the full functional specifications for Skim-in-a-box, started a company in London, sold my car, my furniture, moved out of my flat, packed my entire life up, and attempted to say farewell to my loved ones. It was almost a relief it was so quick – if I had too much time to think about it I might have lost my nerve. I had little money, London is the most expensive city in the world, and I was used to living very comfortably.
But I fought down any doubt, and did it. And you know, the second I landed, I have never felt so joyful. Despite growing up in Sydney, I have realised that London is my home. There is a peace coupled with joyful expectation here I have not felt elsewhere… like anything could happen, and it would be ok if it did. I like that.
5. Given Skimbit my all
2007 is above all the year I decided to give my all to Skimbit. Up until then I was risking only some savings and a bit of spare time. This year, it was a large pile of my savings, and all my time, spare or not spare. And truly, I have loved every second of it. Not being able to buy shoes or handbags… its taught me self-restraint; not being able to go out and party… its saved me money and waistline; working 15 hour days… it will all be worth it in the end. I’m certain of it. I have a fantastic business, people around me that believe and support me, and an unwavering conviction I’m doing the right thing. I’ve never felt so sure and so complete.
Thank you 2007 – you will go down in my life annals as the best year of my life.