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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The Mentoring Project - Session 3: 'What?'

We are now half way through the mentoring project.  The third session focused on the theme ‘What?’ and I personally experienced a real shift in perception during this session.   There was this lovely sense of honesty from the group on what else is going on in their lives and how this affects starting up their business.  It reminded me that good things take time and to not try and hurry the process too much.   

I had previously suggested that the Mentee’s ‘get real’ on the numbers and milestones that they need to reach to achieve their goals so that they could work out a realistic month by month plan to then follow (I have provided some templates to help you do this in the document downloads area of the www.businessofbrave.com website).  This process brought up a couple  of interesting things that then carved out what we will focus on between now and the fourth session: 

1.  When you start committing to take action to start up a business, other areas of change may naturally start occurring in your life and you might need to be a little brave with these… 

Some of these changes can seem scary, but they can also help you work towards your new goals.  There was a lot of change happening in the group this week.  One Mentee was told that she was being made redundant, one was advised of a change in job and of a potential amazing job offer overseas. One Mentee is just finishing a contract role and another Mentee revealed that there are two other business lines that she has been exploring and involved in so in fact her plan is going to now encompass setting up three business lines. 

Some of these changes are actually helping the Mentee’s on their journey (e.g. a redundancy package including some training in the area that one of the Mentee wants to move towards with her own business).  Even though change can be a shock (particularly a redundancy), sometimes it can give us the push we need or the freedom we need (but that we were scared of), to move forward with our new adventure.  

2. Life goes on around setting up your business, so your milestones and time frames should be as realistic as possible.

We had a bit of a reality check with the fact that things always take longer than you plan and with all of the life changes in the group right now, it’s important to allow for these in their long term plans.  A potential dream job overseas for one Mentee might mean that it pushes her business launch out by 5 years but if this job helps her towards this, then can be a good realistic strategy.  This also brought up the importance of ‘balance’ in your life and not trying to do too much at once when life can have so many day to day demands. 

3.  You need to ask for help!

The Mentee who was the focus for the session brought up the fact that she had realised through this process that she needed to get better at ‘asking for help’ and that she needed to grow her networks to help her get the help she needs.  Everyone in the group also agreed that asking for help can be a hard thing to get comfortable with.   This then revealed to us what the focus of the next session would be which is ‘Asking for help’

So how do you ask for help?

I truly believe that you can’t set up a business completely by yourself.  You need help and the more help you can get, the better your end result will be.  I also think that there is a constant ‘serve and return’ element that is necessary for learning and becoming good at what you do (hence the power of finding the right mentors in your journey and in the many ways/shapes/forms they come in). 

Before you ask for help, you need to be clear on your ‘story’ and your ‘intention’ behind asking for help. 

This comes back to the focus of the first session which was ‘Why’ are you doing this, and how can you bring the emotional connection into what you are doing in order to trigger the right responses in people?   A great book on creating the emotional connection between a brand and consumers is ‘Love Marks’ by Kevin Roberts (Global CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi).  There is a lot of really great and valuable information on his website  and you can see a quick video of him speaking below.  Having a clear intention and purpose usually means that whilst you might feel a little nervous picking up the phone or preparing an email to a stranger, you will feel reasonably comfortable in asking for help.  I think that this book is good for helpiing you with the story of your brand but also your own story for times when you are asking for help.

Set yourself up for 999 'No’s' (assuming that by 1000, you'll get a 'YES!').

No’s are tough no matter how confident or self assured you are.  Beyond anything, I think that you need to be determined and resilient to be able to shake off rejection and retain the belief that if a door doesn’t open, it’s just not your door and to keep knocking until you find the right doors that do open.  Also - take constructive feedback from the No's and use them to tweak and pivot your strategy/products or services.  The important thing is to just ask!  What is the worst that can happen?  They can only say no.  I personally would prefer to live with 999 No’s than regret that I just never asked...

So how do you grow your networks?

There has never been an easier time than now to research organisations or people that might be able to help you through the internet.  I suggest that you make up an excel spreadsheet that you use as a 'Contact Strategy' document.  This is your universe of people who may potentially help you (a living, breathing document that records who you contact, dates, actions e.t.c).  This document will also ensure that your approach is professional and you avoid asking someone the same thing twice or not following up on an action.  You can download an example template from the www.businessofbrave.com website if you would like to use it or get ideas from it.

I cannot recommend www.linkedin.com highly enough for growing great business networks.  We all have a ‘Linkedin Strategy’ but I think generally people will connect with you if they see that you have trusted connections in common.  So if there is someone that you want to connect with, (who would probably not just randomly connect with someone they have never heard of), sometimes it’s good to start connecting to other people around that person first.  Through doing this, you learn from them as you go and will likely then eventually be able to connect to the person that you wanted to connect with.  In my experience, it’s quite often the people around the person that you want to connect with who may help you more!  

Also, make sure you build a really great Linkedin profile.  Here is a fantastic post by HR guru Liz Ryan  where she talks about the five deadliest personal branding mistakes 

When you do manage to connect with the right person, have a very short, simple, clear message for them and include information that shows how passionate you are about what you are doing or how much work you have already done towards your goal.  It’s also good to be able to give them the confidence that you know about their work and therefore why it makes sense for you to be asking them for help.  There are some example emails to give you some ideas on the www.businessofbrave.com website. 

Nothing beats a personal connection though!  If you can get a 20 min coffee with someone in person, you can gain so much.   Joining networks and organisations that meet up physically is a great way to meet the right people and learn and grow.  Ultimately, I think that if you put time and effort into what you are doing and time and effort into contacting the right people, they will respect the work that you have done, the passion that you have and will help you - even if it's a 'No' - everyone helps in your journey (and in fact sometimes the 'No's' are the best help you can ever get!)

I hope that this helps you. All other session videos, documents and templates can be found at www.businessofbrave.com 

See you next session!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The Mentoring Project - Session 2 'How?'

Based on the questions that I had put to the group last session to work on, I used the second session to dig deeper into each person’s offering by focusing on:

  • How does the offering look?
  • How is it authentic or competitive or different?
  • How is it going to be marketed?
  • How is it going to be marketed?

These questions and the second session were designed to prepare everyone for the next theme titled ‘What’ which may be a little raw and uncomfortable because it will be about:
  • Getting real on the numbers
  • Committing to milestones, timelines
  • Proving that the concept works... (ouch!)

I just don’t want to fall into the trap of spending the next three mentoring sessions on ideas and strategies when it’s most important to get real and practical on the numbers and effort required to make our ideas fly and most importantly, to prove our concept in the most cost and time efficient ways. 

In working on the ‘How’ questions above, it forced each mentee to start carving out their business ideas and we saw a huge amount of progress from session one to session two in this area. 

Although each mentee is at a different stage, I think that it’s important just to ‘start’ the business processes that we will progress to at each session because in starting and doing, you learn as you go and get great momentum.  You also learn to be agile and flexible as you go so that you can pivot your products and services to suit your market.

Mentee Focus for Session 2

The mentee I chose to focus on has been thinking about her business idea for four years and wanted to just start to make it happen now.  She said that she noticed that when you are the mentee of focus for the session, it’s surprising how much you feel you don’t know about your idea (which is also what the first session’s mentee found). 

Obviously the purpose of the focused 1-2-1  is certainly not to make people feel intimated but it’s a good exercise to try and apply a little bit of pressure to help you articulate your business offering and helps you to identify where your gaps are either in knowledge or training.   Other ways to do this are to talk about your business idea to as many people as you can and ask them to tell you why they think it won’t work.

In working out what your offering is and how it can do something more or different to your current competitors, I recommended a great and extremely relevant book by Daniel H Pink called ‘A Whole New Mind’.   

In his book, Pink offers a fresh look at what it takes to excel in today’s world which he describes as ‘The Conceptual Age’ and he reveals the six essential aptitudes on which professional success and personal fulfilment now depend:

1.       Design – Making something beautiful and emotionally engaging
2.       Story – Fashioning a compelling narrative
3.       Symphony – Seeing the big picture, combining disparate pieces into a new whole
4.       Empathy –Forging relationships and caring for others
5.       Play - PLAYING!
6.       Meaning – Finding and giving meaning

So now that the group have worked on crystallising their offering, it’s time to start getting real and here are some ideas I suggested to help with that:

1. Calculate a High level business model

I would suggest a month by month plan (see attached example format)

Revenues – Work out your high level monthly revenue estimates:
  • Work out what you will charge for your products and/or services
  • Work out how much you will need to sell to make enough profit to be sustainable or to reach the level you require e.g:
    • Aiming for turnover of £80,000 in year one.
    • Day rate: £700 - £1500 + VAT
In order to reach target from solely consultancy services will need to do:
  • 54 days at highest rate (£1500) - average of 1 day a week
  • 80 days at mid rate (£1000) - average of 1.5 days a week
  • 115 days at lowest rate (£700)- average of just over three days a week
Costs - Work out your high level business costs:
  • Roughly calculate your predicted monthly business running costs e.g. for:Equipment, marketing, any training you require, any help you require from Accountants e.t.c.(see attached example to give you some ideas
  • Try and calculate three basic scenarios; a best case, good case and worst case scenario (this will help you track your progress as  you go). 
  • Once you have your projected revenues and costs, then you can start to see your net profit by taking all of your costs and expenses away from your revenues.  Doing this will give you a good view on what month you will break even and start making money and what it will take to get there.  Some businesses can take 3 to 5 years to do this. 
Spend time on the things you are good at and get help for things you are not e.g:  Accountants, Tax experts, lawyers… Recommendations from friends are always a great way to find people or you can find help across all business areas at sites like::  www.elance.com

Also – you can claim tax back on any expenses you incur as part of setting up your own business.  You can register as a ‘Sole Trader’ for this gestation period and claim back for a number of years – it’s a good idea to hire a Tax Accountant to help you do this. 

2. Understand the efforts required for marketing your products and/or services:

You can make and/or provide the best products and services in the world but if you don’t have traffic or customers passing by your door, you won’t be selling them!  These days with so many websites and ‘noise’, if you build it, it doesn’t mean that ‘they will come’. 

Marketing is the key to getting the traffic you need to convert sales.  Below is a basic example calculation and assumption for you to be able to start to understand how direct marketing campaigns can work and what they might bring you. 

Now there are obviously exceptions to these rules but from my experience, these are good numbers to ‘get real’ on the realities of what effort you may need to exert in marketing to convert into sales. 

Once you understand these numbers, it will help you start to shape how you see your business being marketed and/or partners that might be necessary to collaborate with in order to make your business (e.g. a partner such as www.notonthehighstreet.com who has 5 million visitors a month if you are wanting to sell products v’s the amount of traffic you might get to your own ecommerce site)

If you want to set up a consultancy business in a very specific area, then you may already have a very targeted list of potential customers to market to and your conversion rate may therefore be very high.  Every business is different however it’s good to understand some high level numbers and what that might mean for you and your business.  

I trust that this has given you some ideas on how to get real and understand what you need to do in order to get real about your business and take the next steps to make it all a reality.  Remember the 3 great points from Miisa Mink who I had a little skype interview with this week:
  1. Take steps even if they are in the wrong direction (just start because you learn through doing)
  2. Knowledge is not the problem – the problem in attitude and commitment
  3. Have Patience!
You can watch the interview here:

All information, articles and videos can be found at www.businessofbrave.com
See you next session!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

How to break the spell of nightmares and scary things - As published in 'Little Treasures' Magazines April/May Issue

Here is an article I wrote for NZ's Mother and Baby Magazine 'Little Treasures' for their April/May issue.

It’s a bit of a harsh reality when you bring home your bundle of joy from the hospital only to discover that instructions were not included.  You can read books, ask ‘Dr Google’ (with caution) or go to your trusty Emergency Department to help you navigate your way around managing their ‘physical bodies’,  but it’s not so cut and dried when they start speaking and you realise that there is also this whole ‘emotional body’ that no one ever briefed you on the management of!

Where do you find solutions to such things as recurring nightmares (that put an end to your long awaited undisturbed sleep) or separation anxiety?  There is more information out there now than ever before, but it’s hard to sift through and find simple strategies that will work for that little person whose anxiety on any level has the ability to rip your heart open. 

I experienced my first severe panic attack as a small child, and whilst my mother used her natural instinct to make sure I was physically OK, she knew nothing about (what we later learnt was) ‘Agoraphobia’ and how to live with it.   My subsequent panic attacks made me insatiably curious about the mind/body connection and the effect that emotions can physically have on us. 

Original Illustration by Olga Minima (10 Years old ONLY!)
When I was woken by the screams of my daughter from her first recurring nightmare, managing that situation then actually came very naturally to me from my own experience and learnings.  I am certainly no expert but knew what had worked for me so I used similar techniques on her.  I listened to and acknowledged the details of her nightmare (because it is very real to them), and then I started retelling her nightmare back to her but with some key changes to the original story…

She dreamt that she was walking through a forest and a monkey jumped on her back.  The monkey was big and terrifying to her.  In my new story, she was walking through the forest and still felt the impact on her back of something that seemed scary but she easily managed to brush it off.  When she turned to look at it on the ground, she was amazed to discover a teeny weeny cute monkey with big wide frightened eyes looking back up at her.  The monkey told her that it was just lonely and wanted a friend to play with.  She picked it up and put it in her pocket so that it would never feel lonely again. 

Not only did this story work in settling her back to sleep, she liked it so much that she wanted me to tell it to her every night before bed.  That nightmare never occurred again and was the catalyst for me creating www.feelbrave.com  (Characters and Stories to help kids manage tough emotions and Feel Brave!)

What I had used was a simple Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) technique called ‘Reframing’.   CBT is a form of talking therapy that focuses on how you think about the things going on in your life – your thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes (your cognitive processes) and how this impacts on the way you behave and deal with emotional problems. It then looks at how you can change any negative patterns of thinking or behavior that may be causing you difficulties. In turn, this can change the way you feel.  Reframing simply involves seeing things from a different perspective.  Much like the way we change our response to a work of art by placing it in a frame, we can change our response to emotions by putting them in a different frame. 

Humour is a great natural way of reframing a situation like most jokes which involve an unexpected twist of perspective (a ‘reframe’).  Children love nothing more than a funny story (especially if they feature in it), or a story about when you were a child.  If you can change their scary story into something that involves any of these elements, it becomes relevant to them and can break the spell of a nightmare or things that scare them.       

Another great example I have seen work was with a child who was getting increasingly anxious about her father being away from home a lot due to his work.  She was told a story about a great chief of a village.  This chief had a big responsibility to make sure everyone had food in their tummies so he would go off on wonderful adventures to gather the food and was a much loved and respected hero.  This warming story was relevant to her own situation and helped her create parallels with her anxiety by reframing the feelings that she originally had. 

Something else that children find curiously delightful is when you role play and act out a scenario that scares them but you play the part of your child and they play the part of another person (e.g. they play mummy leaving them at Kindergarten or a person that is not being very nice to them).  This gives them a safe and enjoyable way to try out various scenarios and choose one that feels right for them to use in the future.        

Storytelling and role play doesn’t always come easily or obviously to us but with just a little prior planning and practice, you can conjure up some delightful enchanting tales and magically break some nasty spells in the process. 



Sunday, 3 May 2015

The Mentoring Project - Helping 6 women transform their business ideas into reality!

The mentoring journey has officially begun at www.businessofbrave.com   

I have never done this type of thing before so it’s a bit of a social experiment to see if we can share a simple mentoring programme to encourage more people to do it because mentors are so helpful and (I believe) critical when you are bravely trying to start your own business. 

I was a little nervous before the first meeting because it’s all new to me too but I was excited about being a part of 6 women’s journeys.  I might not have all of the answers for them, but I certainly know how to help them identify what they need to ‘go find out’ and to help them structure a sales and marketing plan and/or create an online business.

The Format:
  • We have invited 6 women who want to transform their business idea into a reality to join us for 6 sessions.
  • Each session is an hour and a half in duration and deals with a specific relevant ‘theme’.
  • Each session has a mentee chosen in advance to be the focus during the session.
  • We spend the first 30 mins going around each person with an update on what they have achieved since last time against their objectives and/or any challenges/progress.
  • We then have an open 1-2-1 session between of the mentees and myself for 30 mins which focuses on their specific journey and highlights the sessions ‘theme’.The idea is that through the 1-2-1 session, the others draw parallels with their own journey and get value out of it.
  • The floor is then opened up for the other 5 women to question, suggest or challenge the chosen mentee (15 mins).This gives each mentee the chance for the whole group to drill into their business and help them by questioning and challenging or sharing valuable input and ideas.
  • We close the session off with another round of what each person got out of the session and clarify their objectives for the next meeting (15 mins).
  • The 6 sessions are designed to be an ‘injection’ to get the mentees on their way.Then we will set up a longer term solution to keep them motivated, on track and supported on their journeys.
I didn’t know if this format would work but after the first session, feedback proved that it did and as a mentor, I thought it was effective. You can find and download all of the planning documents that I used to set up the session here
The first session is difficult to fully prepare for as a mentor because you don’t have a deep understanding of the business each mentee is trying to set up and/or their current challenges and situations.  I did ask for their progress trackers (download here) in advance to see what their short and long term goals were, but I needed to hear their stories to fully understand and connect with them.  
For the first session’s open 1-2-1, I chose a mentee who had a really clear idea for her business and seemed to need to launch straight into the structure of building her high level business plan and offering. 
Session 1:  Why?

You can watch the video summary (below) and/or read the article and get the relevant links:

The theme that I chose for the first session was  ‘Why?’  Understanding ‘why’ you are wanting to set up your own business helps to  ensure that it is authentic to your true self and helps you carve out the emotional ‘story’ behind it.   It is also important to ensure that what you want to do is aligned with your core values because if you are not living your values through your work, you will feel compromised and you’ll be missing out on deep connectivity and purpose with what you are spending your time on (which I believe is key to success).    
I wanted to use the ‘why’ theme to also try and get the mentees to get clear on whether they have actually made the decision to go ahead with this business idea right now.  It’s one thing to want to start your own business, but like everything you want to change or make happen in your life, you need to actually ‘decide’ because it’s only then that you will commit to taking the right action to get the results.
I thought that it would be a good idea to get the mentees to work out what their core values are before we met for the first time.  I used a process from a book by one of my favourite business Authors (and really helpful and open guy) ‘Stan Slap’   The book is called ‘Bury my heart at conference room B’  (The unbeatable impact of truly committed managers)   You can use Stan Slaps process to work out your own values here and I highly recommend his books!
Going through this process seemed to highlight how much some mentees were unable to live their values at their current workplace which has been a major drive for them to want to set up their own business.   With some mentees it even highlighted to them how some of their current work environments don’t even live their own Corporate Values.  Another great reason to look at Stan Slaps books (if you are in that current environment and want to change it) including his latest book just out now  ‘Under the hood’ (Fire up and fine tune your corporate culture). 
After going through everyone’s values, the business they want to set up and ‘why’ they are wanting to do what they are doing, we started the open 1-2-1 session.  The chosen mentee wants to start her own consulting company which deals with not only the business side of her industry but also the holistic health within her industry which is so current right now with what seems to be an exciting ‘global wellness movement’ taking place all around us.   
We identified that she was at the point of needing to really get clear on what her offer or ‘business proposal’ is.  We set the objective for her to make a draft business proposal by the next session and try to articulate her offering.  This 1-2-1  naturally led us into the importance of articulating what our business would ‘offer’ and I invited all mentees to make a start on creating or carving out their own ‘offering’ which in turn will help them make a start on their high level business plans and identify next actions. 
Starting with ‘What is my offering’ here are some questions to help crystalize it and to identify what you need to ‘go find out’:
  • What will my business offer? (Products, services, content, information, coaching…)
  • What are my current competitors doing and what will I do differently or better than them?
  • Where will the revenue come from?What are current pricings in the market and how can I value my products/services against these?
  • Will I need to have a stepped approach to what I offer?How would that look?
  • What will I need to have in place or ‘get to’ to give up my day job and work solely on my business?
  • Who can I start identifying as a person or company that might give me some advice or mentoring (finding other mentors and networks/organisations or channels to help steer you)
Some other things to start thinking about and capturing
  • What will my website look like and what do I want it to do? Start looking at sites you like and sites like www.wix.com to have a play around with making your own website (which is pretty simple and intuitive - you can even set up an ecommerce shop!)
  • Create some vision boards or ppt’s or files that capture designs you like that give you inspiration for the look and feel of your brand.You don’t have to spend lots of money on designers, you can crowd source designers on great sites like www.peopleperhour.com or www.elance.com
  • In fact – you can pretty much crowd source a whole TEAM to help you do whatever you want to through sites like www.elance.com
  • Vision boards are great also for keeping a view of the ‘bigger picture’.Don’t be afraid to think big and dream up a huge vision for your business.
  • Who is my ideal ‘customer’What does he/she look like, where does he/she go or do e.t.c.If you can start to get really clear on your ‘customer’, you can start to capture ideas about where you can market yourself and get the right traffic to to your offering.
Next session we agreed that in our initial ‘go around’, I will ask each person to reflect on the questions above (in relation to their business idea) and to share how far they have progressed and/or any challlenges they have encountered. 

You can find all videos, articles and documents at www.businessofbrave.com
See you next session!

Monday, 2 February 2015

How to find the right people to help you transform your ideas into reality...

If you want to transform any idea into a reality (or start a business), I really believe that you need other people to help navigate your journey which can be long and gruelling.  Mentors can’t magically make it happen for you (you have to do that yourself), but they can help you pivot or tweak whatever product/service it is that you are trying to sell.  Sometimes just their encouragement can help you out during testing times and give you the self-belief to ‘hang in there’ and keep going. 

I was introduced to something called ‘The Science of Achievement’ about twenty years ago by Anthony Robins http://www.tonyrobbins.com/experiences/personal-development-process a world famous personal coach who's ideas and strategies for transformation are just as relevant for me now as they were then. 
The Science of Achievement is the theory that you can pretty much achieve anything you want to in life, you just have to find someone who is doing it well and ask them for their recipe and model their behaviour.  I really believe in this science and have always pushed myself to be a little brave sometimes and just ‘ask’ the right people for help. 
In my four year journey creating www.feelbrave.com I have treasured the precious mentors and networks that have helped me find my way thus far and continue to help me (as I am certainly not ‘there’ yet and still have a long long way to go). 

Last week I was extremely fortunate to have a mentoring session with Annabel Karmel http://www.annabelkarmel.com/annabel/biography the UK’s number one parenting author.  Annabel has written 37 books and has sold over 4 million copies.  She is passionate about improving the way children eat and also enjoys helping upcoming entrepreneurs.  Her latest book titled Mumpreneur - The complete guide to starting and running a successful business, is due to be released in February 2015.  Annabel’s experience, wisdom and advice was invaluable to me.

Mentors come in all different shapes sizes and even digital formats these days (e.g. ‘Horsemouth’ http://www.horsesmouth.co.uk/  a crowd sourcing mentoring and coaching site), but how do you find the right mentors and people to help you on your journey?  Here are some ideas I thought I’d share that have worked well for me:

1.    Why are you doing this?

People don’t buy into ‘what’ you are doing, they buy into ‘why’ you are doing it.  The why is the passion, the integrity, the emotion and intention behind it and is the ‘yes’ trigger for people to want to help you.  For some great information about the ‘Why’ check out Simon Sinek’s awesome TED talk http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?language=en 
Spend time on making sure you know your ‘why’ and consider that (as the inspirational Zhena Muzkya who made a multimillion dollar business out of tea said recently in an interview)... With a mission to serve others, you cannot fail’. http://parade.com/337641/nancyberk/tea-entrepreneur-and-author-zhena-muzyka-shares-her-thoughts-on-lifes-challenges-success-and-hollywood-opportunities/

2.    Research

It has never been easier to find people who may potentially help you through the Internet and to find out as much about them as you can before you meet them.  An excel spreadsheet is helpful as a living breathing document to keep track of everyone you contact, dates you’ve contacted them, next actions e.t.c and makes you look professional by helping to avoid any embarrassing slip ups of accidentally contacting someone twice or not following up on an agreed action as the list continues to grow. 

If you are lucky enough for a potential mentor or contact to meet with you, researching everything you can about them before you meet not only will make them respect you for doing your homework and prove the right intentions behind your meeting with them but it will also save time on trying to understand their back story that you could have found out before the meeting. 

3.    Talk about your idea

Without compromising any of your potential copyright (being careful to make sure your idea is not easily duplicated by someone else), if you can talk about what you are trying to do with as many friends and new contacts as much as you can, you and your idea can be top of mind for people who then may easily make a link with someone they know or have met which may help you. 

4.    Respect others time and trade creatively

Our world has never been more fast-paced and distracting.  Time is such a precious commodity with people over capacity in what they are trying to fit into their day.  For this reason, if you do manage to get a meeting with someone, I think it’s helpful to remember to respect the time they are giving you.  A nice way to do this is to just allocate 30 minutes for a quick coffee which says ‘I respect that you are busy’ and is always greatly appreciated.  Usually people will happily run over that time but it sets a nice tone. 

Another nice gesture is to creatively trade.  If someone is giving up their time and sharing their wisdom and advice with you, it’s nice to return the favour somehow but if you manage to meet with someone who is really successful, you might feel that there is no way for you to give the same back to them.   Don’t underestimate the value you might be able to give them some day in the future.  Most people actually really love to help and share their success and wisdom.  Sometimes if there is no way to pay them back immediately, you can always ‘pay it forward’ by helping someone else or just taking a nice bottle of wine to say thanks for your time. 

5.    Network

Networking has never been easier with social networks such as Linkedin where you can join online groups in your industry and find new connections.  It’s never too late to start by building your profile and starting to connect with people.  Also joining organisations or societies in the area that interests you and getting out and meeting people is a great way to find help. Try and find organisations that offer mentoring.  Being a New Zealander, I am a member of the New Zealand Business Woman’s Network https://www.nzwomen.co.uk/ who offer mentoring programmes.  Some other examples of great organisations that offer mentoring are ‘Driven Woman’ www.drivenwoman.co.uk or ‘Start up Loans’ http://www.startuploans.co.uk/mentoring/

I hope this has given you some value and ideas (for starters) in finding the right people to help you transform your own ideas into reality or as Derek Silvers says in this wonderful and entertaining TED talk, ‘Turning you from a lone nut into a leader’ http://www.ted.com/talks/derek_sivers_how_to_start_a_movement




Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Happy Women's Entrepreneurship Day! (Some great sound bites from Women who know)

Until today, I knew nothing about Virgin Start Up http://www.virginstartup.org/ 

To celebrate Women's Entrepreneurship Day, they held a Virgin Start Up Ignition day that I went along to.  It was just fabulous so I thought I'd share some of the key sound bites that I took away with me:

Annabel Karmel http://www.annabelkarmel.com the UK's leading child nutrition expert and best-selling author said that 'Failure leads to success' and suggested that instead of telling someone about your business ideas, try telling them what you are doing and ask them why they think it might fail?' 

When Helen Cammaack - founder of Buyometric and Interests.me was asked about investment in return for equity, she said that in their experience, they didn't need investment, they needed customers so why not think creatively some times about trading customers for equity?



Madeline McQueen founder of Narratively http://www.narratively.co.uk  said:

'Be Magnificent' (and she truly was). 
She said that women are great at building relationships but not so good at 'Asking for the business' 
She stressed the importance of charging your worth and making little closes all the way.  She doesn't teach selling so much anymore, she really teaches 'closing!'

Another inspiring speaker was Sharmadean Reid  http://sharmadeanreid.com  - Founder of WAH Nails.  Beyond all of her amazing successes at 30 years old, she most impressed me with her natural ease and positive attitude. 
She said that she always had the opinion that if her nail business didn’t work, she could ‘do anything’ like opening a hotel in the Caribbean.  Her advice was delightfully simple ‘Just get on with it!’ and how good women are at being able to do just that.  She talked about how at times she just naively just got on with it and didn’t know what she was doing at the time but she does now! 
She also said that she has always thought that if something is not good for her or is causing her tension, she cuts it out of her life. 
When someone asked about what to do when people in your life are saying ‘When are you going to get a real job’ or ‘When is this going to make money’ her simple answer was ‘Don’t listen to them!  Tell them that you believe in the potential of what you are doing and that you are either with me or not with me’
Jacqueline Gold Chief Executive of Ann Summers talked about leadership and focused on three key areas:
1. Courage - the need to step out of your comfort zone
2. Tenacity - how relentlessly focussed and driven you are born out of passion for what you believe in
3. Empowerment and how having the right people on board is critical for the success of the business. 
Check out Jacqueline's ‘WOW’ (Women on Wednesday) Twitter campaign http://www.jacquelinegold.com/profile/wow/ supporting women in business  
#WOW, takes place every Wednesday and is run through Jacqueline’s twitter page. Each week Jacqueline encourages female business owners to tweet her using the #WOW hash tag along with their business name and a short overview of what they do. Jacqueline then picks her three top entries for that week and re-tweets them to her followers (currently over 30,000).  Then the overall winners have lunch with her and receive some amazing mentoring time. 

Some key messages from all were:

Ø  The importance of your branding and how integral it is for a business - Find your story and tell that story!

Ø  Get really clear on who your customer is, the value of your product and remember that value means different things to different customers

Ø  Don’t be crippled by indecision… make decisions and then change them if they don’t work, just get going!

We still have a long way to go for worldwide equality for Women in business but in the UK Women can start up a business tomorrow and every new business that can create employment helps our economy get back on track so there has never been a better time to do it!