Resources: Inspiring ability

FUN-Ding Ding Ding!

Recently I have found myself in the wobble between the “Fun” of innovating, creating and communicating and the “Ding, Ding, Ding” of painful growth, decision-making, maintenance and the slowness of needing to use assistive technology.

When you win a funding award it is like hitting the jackpot. “Ding! Ding! Ding!” The dollar signs line up and you know this is going to be life-changing. 

The celebratory sounds of coins downloading into a slot too small to hold the winnings, the sound of cheers clapping, clinking champagne flutes and support notifications pinging on your social media  is a wonderful experience. 

Then the crowds slowly move away and you are left to pick up the coins off the floor and find suitable channels to put the winnings into. And then the reality starts to sink in that here is a wonderful amazing opportunity that needs to be stewarded.

Possibilities open up, dreams begin to touch ground and the mission, vision, goals and activities need to be laid out.

Allocating the funds and trying to envisage future needs towards growing a business was an exciting and daunting stage for me. I  had no idea in which direction it really was going to grow and here, I found the help of a coach @Anton Ressel invaluable. 

His question, “What does success look like for me” was  a difficult, moving target.

My first issue was one of identity. As an inventor and small business owner with small amounts ticking over, I was more focussed on impact than income. I suddenly realised that I am no longer just a volunteer helper, but an actual business owner who needs to make money to continue helping people.

All the compliance and regulations around owning a small business and administering funds in the right direction, budgeting, planning, theories of change and how to use an enormous amount of money wisely in a limited time, has been both exhilarating and mind bending.

For me one of the greatest challenges was exchanging my experience as a very part-time employee, into a full-time business owner who needs employees to help provide products and services.  

This had to be balanced with the realities that normal life, shopping, cleaning (which take me longer than most because of my limited vision) still had to be covered. 

I now see why there are so few people with disabilities who take on entrepreneurship. You need to earn enough to cover assistants, update  assistive technology just to get to ground level before you start building. This is not to say that it is impossible.

The joyous “Ding! Ding! Ding!” part of funding then became the working sound of the blacksmith hammer in my head as I submitted myself to the  mind shifting programmes, thought-provoking coaching and sometimes painful learning curves. I have accomplished tasks I never thought I could do. The funding has been like the hot fire shaping me and making me more open for learning and development.

Fighting for  balance between Fun and DING.

Recently I have found myself in the wobble between the “Fun” of innovating, creating and communicating and the “Ding, Ding, Ding” of painful growth, decision-making, maintenance and the slowness of needing to use assistive technology. 

Towards the end of this funding I am facing the reality that some of our services have not been as financially viable as I thought.  The need is still there and quite large, but we are now forced to pivot and will be turning some of our services into digital products. Watch this space.

It is not just funding that runs out, but my energy runs out too when I am not spending enough time on the FUN side of the business too…the stuff that  got me into this space in the first place, viz creating solutions, both physically and digitally so that those of us with visual impairment can access information most affordably and independently. 

Funding has been formative in helping me see that my product and our services align with 5 development goals (2,6, 8, 10 and 11)…I just need to make this effort sustainable. I will persevere.  As a sportswoman the word  ‘goal’ has always motivated me. 

Breathe.

At our first cohort gathering we all got to do a breathing  exercise. I held my breath way longer than I thought I could. I see now that I have come way further than I ever imagined.  I have skills that make me far more employable, I have got to know myself better, befriend my strengths and weaknesses and conclude that my work is not my identity.

So thanks to @SABFoundation, @FURTHER  and @Aton Ressel for the FUN and the DING in growing me as a person. My Self-induced perceived  pressure to achieve has been replaced by an excitement to continue to make a difference even if a pivot is required. I am no longer fearful about unsustainability but looking forward to what we can achieve post-funding. 

I know how many lives we have changed, how many families have been impacted by us over the 30 months, but cannot know how many people will be included in future because designers better understand accessibility.

In my eyes, the mission still remains – collaborating with others to design their products and places to include the 285 million of us who have  visual impairment. 

Pad Perch™️ next version also on a journey and coming soon. Listen out for the ‘ding ding’ of a launch bell. That will be a fun day! 

#InclusiveDesign #DisabilityInnovation

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