Over the past few weeks, I have been putting together the outline for a book; it has been on my to-do list for ages!
Logically, it’s related to marketing for recruitment and staffing business owners. As part of the flow, I have been looking back at the ups, and let’s be honest – downs, of my own marketing journey and running a business in general.
Though sometimes it is good to go ‘through the terrible bits yourself’; forewarned is forearmed in my humble opinion.
When we first started our own company, we were all fired up and dare I say overconfident.
I mean we were the top Viagra saleswoman in the UK and the MENA region sales manager of the year.
Surely success was guaranteed?
A Corporate Career Versus Running Your Own Business
We both had the idea that because we had successful corporate careers, everything would go swimmingly.
Worse still, people that both Sharon and I had worked with all told us it would too!
(Apologies to my corporate buddies and many of you don’t have a clue what running your own business is like.)
Ummm …. ‘swimmingly successful’ is not descriptive words associated with running your first, or any, business.
Quite soon, we discovered that running a successful company was not a ‘given’ because you had excelled in a corporate setting where the ‘real’ world was often shielded from you.
I remember within the first few weeks of setting up the company I headed off to a networking event with my shiny new expensive business cards.
I sat at a table packed with accountants and solicitors (what is that about business networking?) and landed next to the friendliest face.
The lady in question was a ‘coach’; nothing wrong with coaches unless they ‘try’ and give you advice without being asked.
Though I have to say the individual in question gave me a piece of sage input I still use to this day.
Are you ready….?
Make decisions from your future self.
I nearly swapped seats; it was all a bit woo woo for me at the time as I was only just getting to grips with the fact that our thoughts created our actions and then results, courtesy of the legendary Byron Katie.
[If you haven’t read any of her material, it comes with my highest recommendation. Eckhart Tolle describes her as a blessing on this planet, and once you listen to her, I know you will agree.]
That night I found myself Googling everything to do with business success… and making decisions from my future self!
The real journey of running our own business had started.
No matter how good you are at what you do when you move from a place where you are selling your organisation to selling yourself; it is a huge change.
I had come from a billion-dollar organisation that had an epic infrastructure. I won’t share all of it as I am sure you can work it out!
Ahh, the memories.
If I couldn’t get something to work on the PC, I rang the help desk. All the marketing campaigns were planned months ahead of time; all tested and researched too.
Flat tyre? No problem. Rings the dealership, and a hire car was on its way. (I’ll never forget the look on Sharon’s face when she had to replace two tyres on her car!)
I loved my corporate life; don’t get me wrong.
Though the innate drive to go it alone with Sharon was the right journey for me.
The challenge was I had no idea what was ahead of me.
When I look back to that 40 something starting a business for the first time, I wish she could have known just a few of the things I know now.
If you are an experienced business owner, some of these ‘things’ might be a timely refresher; I’m sure I am not the only person who has occasionally lost the plot these last few months?
And if you are new to the whole going it alone, prepare yourself for what’s to come.
So here we go and in no particular order.
1. Embrace the Learning Opportunities #Failurealert
Anything that happens to you is a piece of learning. The world won’t end because a client left you – or a pandemic appears to scupper that amazing year you had planned.
Be honest – when you start anything new lots of ‘things’ will go wrong. Accept it as a gift.
I know it might sound cliched, but failure is your route through. Think Edison and Colonel Sanders! And of course, Mr Jobs and our amazing smartphones.
2. Keep Hold of Your Mental Estate
Keep a check on your thoughts, and what you say to yourself; we are governed by our conscious and subconscious mind, people.
To achieve what we want, we must continuously adapt our behaviour and learn from changing circumstances; plenty of opportunities as a business owner here!
However, the majority of incoming signals we get in real–life social situations is irrelevant to our immediate goals and might be processed unconsciously in many situations (the latest data suggests our unconscious is also processing about 11 million bits of data every second).
An intriguing question is whether such irrelevant and subconsciously received information can affect behavioural adaptation.
Many studies report that emotional inputs not necessary for achieving an immediate activity can affect aspects of human behaviour, including our decision making.
Add into this listening to the rubbish other people say to you and what you say to yourself and I am amazed any of us make a success of our business.
So, keep a hold of your thoughts; they can run away with you. Be intentional about the thoughts you want to have too; I could write a whole post on this topic alone. Maybe next month.
3. How You Start Won’t Be How You Finish
How you start won’t be how you finish.
Businesses change and iterate all the time. Stop being attached to an idea you had that is well past its sell-by date.
So far, our business has had several iterations and three business names. We always have in the front of our mind what is the problem our clients need a solution for and that they are willing to pay you handsomely for.
4. Develop a Christian Work Ethic
I was brought up with a good old-fashioned puritan work ethic which I have adapted over the years into a Christian one – let me explain.
There is nothing wrong with having a good Christian work ethic; work hard and critically, be nice to people.
“You shall eat the fruit of the labour of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.” Psalm 128.
As Steven Pressfield says in his book Do The Work “Our enemy is not lack of preparation; it’s not the difficulty of the project or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account. The enemy is resistance. The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, justifications and a million reasons why we ‘shouldn’t do the work.”
5. Build A War Chest
Bootstrapping your business is a popular term, and in honesty, we both have mixed views about it.
A business needs money behind it to grow which shouldn’t be squandered, and yet spending hours trying to find free software is counterproductive.
Invest in the software you need and the website to attract the customers you want. Invest in marketing too.
Because this will help you sell more and build your war chest.
Many people over the past few months have been caught out as the penny dropped that they had little or no cash reserves.
Enter the war chest. This is your money in the bank for a rainy day. In other words, your operating costs times x months.
Depending on the size of your company, this is going to vary, and most business gurus would suggest six months costs.
I can hear a few gulps.
Just plan for it at least to make a start. Press pause on the new kitchen or extension and for now, build your reserves. You will thank yourself later.
6. Develop Your Marketing and Sales Skills and Make Offers #Daily
Always, always focus on marketing and sales daily and ask people to buy your stuff!
Over many years we have worked with people in different disciplines, and a common challenge they all have is a lack of consistent focus on their marketing and sales process.
Build it, and they will come is a mantra many ‘sector experts’ fall foul of.
Our average reader here on the Superfast website runs an SME or micro recruitment and staffing business. Which, although uncomfortable to say, very few people know about; that is generally why they find themselves here looking for advice!
Smart move because what works for bigger brands is hard to pull off for a small recruiting and staffing firm with no real brand footprint in the market.
Let me explain.
Marks and Spencer and is a household name in the UK; it has even claimed the affectionate title in their adverts of ‘our M and S’.
Last year they spent approximately £200m on marketing according to marketing week. So ‘testing’ a campaign at £50k is a drop in the ocean for them.
Not so for companies like us.
Remember that different strategies will work for you, and you need to implement campaigns consistently.
The mantra is marketing, sales, and make offers daily.
7. Get Help #Consistently
Our egos are funny things.
They often ‘try’ to convince us we do not need help; especially when we have ‘done so well in the past’.
Here is something I have noticed; I actually don’t know everything, and neither does Sharon!
However, there are lots of people out there that can fill in the gaps for us!
They have been there before or have expertise in an area I don’t and have the skills and knowledge to help me.
Sixteen years in business, and we are currently working with four business ‘mentors’, helping in different areas, and going through three training products.
We can track our results and lack of them to when we ‘tried’ to go it alone. If Oprah gets help, then it’s good enough for me.
Fact: Stop learning, and you will stop growing!
P.S. If number 7 resonated with you let’s have a chat. You can book a call with one of us here.