This Start-Up Story comes from Catriona Stiles, a Garden Designer. Her background was in engineering and manufacturing, but Catriona has always been interested in design, plants, and nature. Five years ago, she transformed the tiny north-facing garden in their previous home into a little haven – and sparked an interest in design, that has now traslated into a complete career change, and a whole new business.
Tell me a little about you & your family, what your business is, and the inspiration behind getting started…
I’m Catriona, mum to my 7 year old boy and 4 year old twin girls. My background has been in manufacturing and engineering and my expertise field was continuous improvement.
After my girls were born it became more difficult to get job satisfaction with the flexibility I wanted. I wanted to do something that I was passionate about so I went in with both feet, took voluntary redundancy and started my garden design business.
How did you make the leap from idea on paper to reality with your business idea?
I worked with Lucy, initially on providing a business coaching service to horticulture small business. Through the process it became obvious that I wanted to do run a creative business of my own. I came up with a timing, plan and training that would give me the right tools to start.
How did you get your first sale or client?
Through Facebook, from someone I had never met before! Someone was looking for a realistic garden design on a Facebook Group and we made the connections online.
What ‘lucky breaks’ or helping hands have you had along the way that have really boosted your progress?
I was lucky that my voluntary redundancy application was accepted. I don’t think I would have made the leap otherwise.
Most of my sales are through word of mouth so I’m grateful to me friends and family network that have recommended to me. I’m a natural problem solver so I will always make things work, but as my dad says – if I fell in the Clyde I would come up with goldfish!
What do you LOVE about your business and working for yourself?
The ability to be outside! Having spent all my life working in factories most of the time you don’t get much daylight. It’s made such a difference to my mental health. The flexibility is key for us as a family. I can work when suits for us, not just by the clock.
What’s the scariest thing you’ve had to do since setting up on your own?
Give up my membership to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. It costs quite a bit of money annually and honestly just wasn’t me. I’d put a lot of effort in to get to that point in my career, so I did wonder if I was throwing it away.
What impact did Coaching support have on you and your business, in the short and longer term?
Coaching gave me targets to move to. It all seemed so daunting, but the support broke it down into smaller chunks. I needed the accountability with Lucy to make sure I was doing what I needed to. It gave me the confidence to move from a side hustle to be able to have my own business.
Who else is in your support network, that you simply couldn’t manage without?
I have a group of friends on Whatsapp who are really supportive. One is a marketing guru and has been so helpful. They helped me with my logo.
My husband has been amazing as an enabler in the business. He’s helped me when I have had confidence wobbles.
What exciting plans do you have for your business over the next 6-12 months that you’d like to share?
I’m tailoring my packages towards new home. There have been a surge in new houses and the gardens that come with them are lacking to say the least. With a blank canvas its a great opportunity to get the structure of your garden right from the get go.
You can see more of what Catriona’s up to online over at her website.
On your own start-up adventure?
I’m Lucy. I’m a Business Coach helping women who work for themselves to create beautiful businesses that make a positive impact on the world – sharing their skills, talents and creativity in a way that feels good AND makes great money, too.
I offer free 30-min Consultation Calls to enable you to get a handle on where you are now, gain clarity on your goals for your business and figure out what you need to do to get there, too. You can book your complimentary call with me here: www.calendly.com/Lucy-Green/30min
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