First Christmas, first paid staff member and funding help

Having your first company must be a bit like having your first baby. Here we are, approaching our first Christmas. Everything's new, we're making some mistakes, relishing all the experiences and learning so much every day.

This week we offered a job to our first member of staff through the Future Jobs Fund, which means we'll be reimbursed for their wages for 25 hours per week and they'll receive expert coaching from social enterprise Striding Out.

It's an exciting step. We'll have to set ourselves up to pay National Insurance and monthly wages. And I'll have someone to help me with everything from sifting through tender opportunities to chasing invoices and helping us minimise our impact on the environment. After the first six months, we'll have to ensure we can afford to keep paying her without the Future Jobs Fund help. Quite a responsibility. But my hope is that our new person will more than pay for herself.

The other thing I'm doing right now is trying to secure some more funding to run more Poached programmes in the new year. Strange that as a communications professional I should have so much difficulty articulating my case to a funder. I think the problem is that when you're so close to something it's nearly impossible to see the best way to describe it to someone else. Fortunately, I was offered some free consultancy with PA Consulting through UnLtd. They took a look at a specific funding application and then took me right back to basics in terms of the impact we are having, how and why we're the people to do this kind of work. What a relief! I've now got an outline proposal to work on and a lot more confidence that I can convince funders that we're worthwhile. Well, of course we are.

This week was also our first Christmas party with a mixture of supporters, clients and trainees coming along. Incredible to think that at this time last year, Poached was still just an idea. We didn't have any funding, didn't have anywhere to work from and didn't really have much of a clue. Now we've got clients, trainees, staff, a shared office, an identity and an emerging culture of our own.

Just want to finish, then, with a big thank you to everyone who's helped to get us this far.

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