June 2020, the country was easing its way out of lockdown, Covid cases were on the decrease and we'd enjoyed a lovely sunny spring at home spending time as a family and muddling though being stuck at home together, but at the same time enjoying a slower pace of life than we'd been used to in recent years. All was looking good, like we'd survived the restrictions unscathed when my phone pinged. I was perusing the shelves of Sainsbury's trying to decide what to buy for lunch when Tony messaged to say that he was being made redundant.
The news came as a bit of a shock as he'd survived the last few rounds of job cuts. After a mild panic and a few long discussions we hatched a plan to take the risk and start up on our own. Olwg was born and a perfect opportunity for me to dip my toes back into the world of employment.
It was never in my plans to take such a long extended break from working. Thinking back to when I was expecting our first child, I was adamant that I would be straight back to work as soon as possible. However as soon as Flora was born, the reality was a different story. I did return to work for a couple of years when she was 6 months old, but struggled juggling being a mum with working life. Then we had to opportunity to live the expat life in Oman and along with it the chance for me to take a career break to focus on caring for our young family.
Two more children, a move to London and 5 years single parenting while Tony worked on rotation, somehow 14 years had passed. With the children growing up fast and needing me less and less the time was right to focus on making my life more productive. I'd been considering getting back to work for a couple of years but ever indecisive, coming up with ideas continued to elude me. What did I actually wanted to do with my life? Starting Olwg made that decision for me.
Setting up a business was something neither us had either done or really considered before. We've had lots to do and learn which has been made even more challenging under the umbrella of a global pandemic with almost everything grinding to a halt. In addition I've also had the challenge of navigating how working life has evolved over the years since I last spent my days in an office.
Long gone are the days of 64GB memory sticks, emails, phone calls, meetings and networking in the pub on Friday nights. Now it's all SharePoint, Teams and LinkedIn....not to mention the humble Excel chart being replaced with the strange new world of PowerBi . Lots to learn.
In between re-educating myself on all theses new-fangled technologies, I've also had to think long and hard about how I could actually add value and be of a real use to the world of Olwg, especially as I didn't feel confident (or really want to) return to the murky world of engineering.
My years at home with the kids hasn't all been school runs, coffee mornings and an endless laundry service for the household. I have spent a fair share of time on of all of the above, but I have also managed to keep myself busy learning many new life skills along the way all of which could be repurposed in the business environment. So what exactly have I been up to these past few months?
Company Branding & Design
The many hours I've spent dutifully supporting the children's craft projects and art homework have come in useful with helping me rediscover my more creative side. This was good as one of my first tasks at Olwg was to create our new Logo which would help us develop our branding. Taking inspiration from the 'O' from Olwg and using blues and greens to represent 'Green Energy'.
Moving forward I'll be attempting to use my design skills to create a series of infographics to make the hard 'engineery' stuff look prettier and easier for non-technical people of understand. Back in my previous working life I used to pride myself on my digital drawing skills which were little more than grouped shapes in PowerPoint...with a gradient fill if I was being very fancy. Digital design technology has definitely improved for the better over the past ten years!
Website Creation & Analytics
Next on the to do list was our company website. Over the years I have created a number of websites originally coding in HTML before graduating to the advanced world of MS FrontPage.
What a joy it was to discover Wix! Through Wix it is so quick and easy to create a modern, stylish website without the worry of wondering if you had forgotten to close a tag.
I have also been delving into the world of Google Analytics. The clever people at Google have very kindly been running loads of free webinars for start-ups which I have been avidly logging into. The amount of data readily available through Google is both amazing and scary. Long gone are the days when the mighty hit counter was considered cutting edge and an amazing insight of website traffic.
Olwg's website is still very much a work in progress but we're happy with it as a first attempt while we get set up, however any feedback or suggestions are always gratefully received. Over the coming days and weeks I will continue to update and improve this. Top priority is thinking of an original and punchy tag line and hashtag.
Now that the logo and website are up and running, it's time to shift my focus more onto how we can get ourselves better known by improving our marketing. Back in Olwg's inception we created social accounts covering all the main platforms:
So far we've been sporadic at best posting and creating content about what we're up to. It's definitely time to be more active across all platforms in a more assertive effort for marketing and self promotion, not the easiest task for a group of introverted engineers!
Back at the start of the OG lockdown I signed up to an online digital marketing course, I didn't get very far with it due to home schooling commitments, but over the next few weeks I'm aiming to dedicate more time to getting the course complete. Apparently there's a whole science to social media and there's a lot more to it than just posting cute cat photos. Who knew?!
As a company we're also all going to make a collective effort at this blogging malarkey to keep everyone up to date with what we've been up to. Each week we'll take it in turns to write down our thoughts. Tony wrote an excellent piece last week (check it out if you haven't already!) and this week it's my turn. I know Harry can't wait to publish his next week.
So what's next? Although London is now fully locked down again it's not holding us back at Olwg HQ. It's still all systems go. While Tony and Harry are busy working hard on the technical side of the business, I'll be focusing on getting the website working more efficiently with more relevant content on it as well as attempting to market ourselves better on social media.
Alongside this I hope to get better clued up in the technical areas of our models so that any infographics I create are not only aesthetically pleasing but also technically accurate and informative. I also intend to get more stuck in to learning the dark arts of PowerBi to add my bit to our technical models.
Can't forget to add planning my next blog post from the to do list!
Although initially it has been a bit of a challenge settling back into working life things are going pretty well. I still don't feel I'm contributing as much as I could just yet....however I am keeping very busy, learning and settling into a new way of life. Everyday I'm getting a bit more confident and doing a bit more. Full time work is certainly not as difficult as lone parenting 3 active kids!
Maybe one day soon we'll be able to go retro and bring back networking in real life on Fridays in the pub.
Stay safe and watch this space....exciting things are coming in the land of Olwg.