Reflections on Year One
With our first year under our belts, we jotted down reflections from the past year and aspirations for what’s to come. These thoughts, like our personalities and styles, are different and unique. Please read on and know how grateful we are for the business, support, and partnership this community has shown us. Here’s to year 2!
To say I'm blown away by this entire thing is an understatement. I constantly find myself a little shocked that 1) I own part of a small business 2) the stars aligned to bring these two other amazingly strong, fierce, and kind women into my own little path 3) we are successful and 4) we have worked together to define success on our own terms.
I’m proud that we’re doing our best to do run this business in a way that is true to who we are, how we want to operate, and how we want to be perceived. We set out to do this a bit differently to really honor ourselves and how we felt like we could make the greatest impact on the sector and community. I’m proud of our collective strengths and the way we support each other, learn from each other, and lift each other up as well as how these strengths combine to better support our clients. When we were brainstorming the idea of Brightspot, we talked a lot about the power of a collaborative model. I think we have seen that our three sets of experiences, perspectives, and knowledge combine to more deeply benefit the organizations we work with.
I’m surprised at how empowering it is to co-run a women-led business. Briana and Caitlin are two of the most thoughtful, intelligent, patient, strong, and FUN women I know. Today, it feels really, really important to support women-led endeavors and I am immensely proud that we are one of them.
I’ve learned, learned some more, and continue to learn. I’ve personally learned a lot about myself – the strengths I can bring to the group, the things I still need to discover, what motivates and inspires me. Caitlin and Briana have taught me so much about grant writing, campaigns, and strategic planning, but also about how to navigate the sticky dynamics of human nature inherent in this work - the nuances of communicating, of helping lead people to solutions, of facilitating important conversations. I am so enormously thankful these two partners bring this expertise and are willing to patiently share it!
But most importantly, I’ve learned so much about the really great community of nonprofits and people within them that exists here. Playing even just a tiny role in the impact these organizations have on NH residents is rewarding, inspiring, and fulfilling in a way I didn’t imagine could be part of my working life.
I always knew I was entering the Brightspot partnership as a grant writer and consultant. What I didn’t fully grasp at the time of Brightspot’s formation however, was that Caitlin, Kelly and I were also becoming small business owners and female entrepreneurs. It’s no small feat to wear any one of those hats but here we are one-year later, each wearing all three hats and I couldn’t be prouder.
"What if?" can be an empowering question. Brightspot was born because Caitlin, Kelly and I came together around the question of “What if we could collectively do more for our clients and be more for the nonprofit sector?” I think we’re onto something big with Brightspot because we dared to not just ask the question but dared to also truly answer it.
Being good at my job is quite different from being good at running a business – I am always learning how to do both better, but the latter has certainly been an exciting and humbling challenge.
The feeling that there is someone (two someones, actually) who have my back is subtle but powerful. I feel like I can do more, think more creatively, aspire for more knowing its not just me out here.
I remain convinced there’s a real need for our work but it comes with an equally strong need to educate about what the work is, how we do it, what clients can expect, etc.
The lean, under-paid, nonprofit model is brutally hard. Nonprofits are essentially small businesses that have a different revenue model than a for-profit business. When we, as a society, don’t value nonprofit staff, expertise, and contributions to with strong financial incentives we do a disservice to ourselves as members of the community they serve. This is a big motivator for me to do this work and make it accessible to organizations of all sizes.
Planting our flag as Brightspot has brought more business, connections, and partnerships to our front-door than I imagined. Just saying, ‘We’re open for business!’ has changed the way people view us and how we view ourselves, I think.
It’s been amazing to partner with so many other consultants and work alongside our clients this last year - each engagement is a chance to learn new things and file away the experiences for the next time.
I never imagined being 35 and having my own business and most days I feel damn proud.
There are challenges to running, and potentially growing, a business but I am excited for us to navigate these questions in year two and to build this business how we want. As long as we can keep our culture and values in tact – there is no reason not to keep pushing.