Welcome to my blog! This week I’m talking about the lessons we’ve learnt in our first year of business.

Monday

I spent a lot of time on fundraising, answering questions from investors. I really enjoy this part of the fundraising process because it validates what we do whilst also forcing me to take a long, hard look at our business processes. Overall, a great learning experience.

Melissa and I also continued working on our first birthday event. It takes place on 13th October and we’re trying to get our key speakers confirmed.

Tuesday

I had a fascinating meeting with Barbara Stephens from Dementia Pathfinders, during which we explored in detail how Unforgettable could work in partnership with Dementia Pathfinders and Dementia Conversations to create a sustainable model for community support groups. Barbara is amazing – the sort of person who gets things done rather than just talking about it – I’m very excited to be working with her.

I also met again with Phil Wells from the Dementia Action Alliance which is committed to transforming the lives of people with dementia. Phil has much expertise in social and ethical retail and we had a brainstorm meeting discussing how business models work for ethical retail, which I found so interesting.

Wednesday

Started the day with a board call. Our board continues to strike the perfect balance between challenging and pushing us, but also understanding and supporting what we want to achieve. I was then interviewed by Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) which is the social action arm of the Catholic church in England and Wales. CSAN is currently working to support people with dementia who are members of church congregations and wanted to find out more about Unforgettable’s work and our philosophy about ‘living well’ with dementia.

In the evening, I met Zoltan Bozoky, Chairman of the Unforgettable Foundation for drinks and an update. Zoltan continues to give me a lot of great advice and is becoming a much valued mentor.

Thursday

Today’s focus was on business essentials. What are Unforgettable’s 10 most important goals for our second year of trading? Focusing on key factors and prioritising those which are absolutely crucial to our success, is a very useful exercise.

As our first anniversary approaches, I’ve found myself reflecting on what’s happened in the past 12 months. When we launched Unforgettable on 21st September last year, I honestly had no idea what to expect. Our growth – especially in the first six months – has really surprised me. There’ve been other surprises too, such as how challenging it can be to find really good people to employ, and how much seasonality can affect sales.

I’ve also learnt that most ecommerce businesses don’t work on single purchases. They need customers who like what they see and come back for more. Our aim this year is to keep improving our customer’s experience so that they are happy to return and feel supported and understood. And best of all, I know we can make it happen!

And finally…

I was really sad to hear about the death of Gene Wilder, a true comic genius. Whilst I fully respect his family’s decision to keep the illness private (it’s such a personal issue) their decision also serves as a reminder of the fear and stigma which still surrounds dementia. As Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society commented in the Independent today;

‘While Gene and his family were well within their rights to keep his diagnosis private, I want people to know that it’s okay to be open. Counter-intuitive though it may sound, not everything about a dementia diagnosis has to be doom and gloom.’

Well said Jeremy, I couldn’t have put it better myself.