Fellow business owners, business start-ups & entrepreneurs,
I salute you.
Like, Hunger Games style, I salute you. You deserve a vast crowd, kissing their fingers and holding them up to you in a gesture that condones your damn hard work, persistence and ambition.
I feel your pain.
My business has been going officially for around 6 months now, unofficially for about a year, long before I graduated. There I was, stressed about my dissertation and obsessed about not being able to get a First (which I did, by the way – not showing off... Only joking, totally showing off!). I was stressed about grades and deadlines and early mornings and late nights…
How oblivious I was.
You, my beautiful fellow business people, or you even more lovely people just nurturing the idea to start, will understand what I mean when I say I now laugh, yes, LAUGH, at the worries my past self had to deal with.
I never thought it’d be easy. If it was easy everyone would become their own bosses, am I right?! But never on God’s green earth, would I ever, ever have thought it’d be this difficult.
And I’m not saying I’m not confident in my business, I am. Ask anyone. I think myself and my business partner make damn good videos and I’m pretty sure we’re awesome people to work with as well, just to add the cherry onto the metaphorical cake, if I may say so myself! :)
It’s the selling part I’m not good at. I’m pretty sure you’ll understand what I mean when I say this, especially with the creative businesses – I feel like my work should do the selling, while I sit in the background, leaning back in a chair, stroking a fluffy white cat, all smug and broody and having to hire someone to answer the phones because just pretty much everyone wants a video from me because I’m just so bloody great at them.
Ahem, that’s definitely not the case.
Business isn’t about just being good at what you do. It’s, at the start at least, being good at SELLING what you do.
My business partner’s dad owns a very successful business. Seriously, we go out, it’s like a film - he’s constantly on the phone, often arguing in the background of generic dinner scenes with his clients or contacts about business. He’s just that wanted. But he didn’t get there by sitting on his backside and waiting for people to figure out just how good he is at what he does. No. He went out, and MADE people aware of him and his business’s presence, and MADE them want him.
That’s the part I struggle with.
So, after much gentle persuasion (and some much harder persuasion), I was talked into attending a 6.45AM business breakfast meeting last week. What happens at these breakfast meetings, you ask? Well, friend, I’ll tell you. You go in, you network, you network some more, you eat breakfast (or just drink a hell of a lot of coffee, if you’re me), and then the fun begins…
You’re asked to stand up, introduce your business, speak about work you’ve done in the past and then finally talk about work you wish to do in the future. You ask for referrals; so, if any of the business people in the room have any connections with the referral you’re asking for, they’ll help you out.
Little old me didn’t know any of this structure. So, I rock up at 6.45 on a Friday morning, prepared only with a load of business cards and my elevator pitch. I get chatting to a long-attending business breakfast person at the beginning, and he says ‘so who are you asking for during your referral?’
‘I’m sorry, what?’
So, needless to say, my pitch was pretty bleak…
OK, who am I kidding, it was diabolical!
I didn’t know the structure of the meeting. I didn’t know that’s how it worked. I didn’t know this or that etc. etc. It didn’t go well at all. I stumbled on my words, lost my train of thought, my voice shook, I went red and I sat down after my pitch feeling like the lowest of the low.
Pitch Perfect? I think not.
Now you must be thinking, OK, this is a pretty damn long blog and to be honest I’m getting pretty bummed out by it! Bear with me, there is a silver lining….
Once everyone had finished their pitch and there was more networking going on, I was sitting there contemplating my life... when suddenly over half the people in that room came up to myself and my business partner and either wanted work from us, knew someone who did, or just wanted to get connected.
I was gobsmacked.
There was over 40 successful, professional business people in that room, with over 40 different successful, professional businesses, and even after me messing up my first pitch to such a large group, they all still had the time of day for me, even if it was just a few words of encouragement.
I couldn’t believe it. The kindness. The generosity. The humanity!
I went into that ‘business meeting’ prepared to pitch to a large pack of angry vultures in suits, instead, I could’ve mistook these people for old friends.
The moral of this story, my fellow business guys and gals, is, if you’re struggling, if you’re worrying whether you’ve made the right decision by going it on your own, if you’re thinking you’re just a small person in a large competitive market, if you’re feeling like your business is good enough but your business knowledge isn't…
REACH OUT. Just reach out to others, even extremely successful people, because you know what I learnt from that meeting?
I learnt that everyone has been in your/our shoes at one point in their life. Everyone has trekked through the bad times of business, and actually, it makes you a better person for it, I’m sure. And the people at that breakfast meeting are a perfect example of that.
Reach out, because you never know what words of wisdom you will find.
I know, you know, we all know, that just sometimes just a few simple kind words can make a difference. Even just putting yourself out there, even if it’s a will-the-ground-open-up-and-swallow-me-whole-PLEASE moment, it’s the feeling of giving yourself the opportunity to fail that allows you to realise that even if you do fail at this ‘business’ thing, it’s better than not trying at all.
Just be kind and you’ll receive kindness. Be honest and you’ll receive honesty. Be available and you’ll receive… availableness. (Is that a word? I don’t know. You get the point.)
Love, respect, and best wishes to you all!
PS. Don't you forget about me!