Author: Glenys Chatterley

I’m in charge…help!

Recently I was talking to a contact about what it was like becoming self-employed. She said she hadn’t realised that growing her business was not going to be quick and how lonely self-employment can be. This got me thinking.

I became self-employed after years in the corporate world. There I had become quite senior and had people around me who did things: IT, finance, recruitment, admin etc and, more importantly, work was generated by the internal processes, I never had to get work, work came to me. Then I became self-employed. I can remember the first day, sitting at my desk, waiting for the work to arrive. I suddenly realised that not only did I have to go and get work (I sort of knew that) but I also had to be all the support for my business—IT, finance, recruitment, admin etc. I tried to generate work by moving my phone around but that didn’t work and I made lists of who might want my service and what “other stuff” I needed to do to run my business. I also drank a lot of coffee and cleaned a lot of cupboards! I was overwhelmed.

I was extremely fortunate because some of my friends had said they would use my service so I contacted them and that got me started. It also meant that I could practise and fine-tune my business processes and practices within a supportive environment. More importantly, they introduced me to their contacts and so the business grew. What also happened was that a contact I had made introduced me to networking. I soon realised that I had always networked, had always worked at building business relationships. So, I was comfortable with networking and realised that the people I met were able to provide the services that would support my business. This meant I could focus absolutely on doing the jobs I got and getting more jobs.

I’ve just written the last two sentences in a few minutes but the growth of my business, despite all the network of support, took a couple of years to feel stable and that feeling is always there at some level. On March 23rd, 2020 the announcement of lockdown meant that on paper I didn’t have a business. It really proved to me that as a business owner I must always be vigilant and not take things for granted.

25 years after starting my first business I’m still self-employed, still living by my three rules (have fun, never do anything I don’t want to do with anybody I don’t want to do it with, never work full-time or permanently for anybody again) and I am still staying vigilant. The difference from when I started is now I have people who know me and support me, sometimes by providing services to my business, people who are fans of my business and who introduce business people to me. But I still remain vigilant because none of us know what the future holds.

Thank you for reading, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

What are your work rules?

Recently I was talking to a new contact who said his diary was available “24/7” to his customers, and I asked him when he had time for himself. He said he didn’t have much time to himself, but he wanted new customers and he wanted to provide a great service to his existing customers.  This got me thinking, why didn’t I work 24/7?

I think at one level any business owner works on their business 24/7 because they have ideas about their business whether they are working or not.  I find that ideas, solutions, plans often drop into my brain when I am exercising. Now that could be because I’m focussing on something other than work, usually that focus is of the “I must be doing it right ‘cos that hurts” type. Suddenly I’ll see how something could be done or have an idea for something new or a new way of doing something. That is normal apparently.

My work thinking can happen at any time, but I do not work 24/7. Why is this? I think there are three reasons:

My age. I am now thinking about retiring and having some other new adventures. When I was younger, I had more energy, that is a reality. I can still get excited by a new project and use lots of energy implementing it. When I compare my now self with my younger self I can see the difference. I can see the difference between my now self and younger contacts, as I say they are “young and thrusting” and it is fantastic to watch but I just don’t have that level of energy anymore.

My business history. I have been self-employed for over 25 years. I’ve had different businesses throughout that time, sometimes they overlapped but mainly they were the only business I had. The business I had for the longest was a catering business, which I had for 18 years. We had snack bars, units that were on building sites, we did outside catering, and I did some consultancy. I was busy. I had a good team, but I seemed to spend lots of my time firefighting: staff not turning up, regular customers booking at the last moment, and we had lots of customers, so the firefighting was against a backdrop of 24/7 work. Our shops opened at 7 am so staff started at 6.30, and we often had events in the afternoon and others that went on till the early hours. I had lots of teams to manage and lots of projects on the go at any one time. It was fantastic, but eventually, as I got older, I began to realise it was time to sell, which I did.

My type of businesses. As I developed my current business, I vowed that, whatever happened and however I developed it, I would not work 24/7 again. I would work Monday to Friday, no evenings, and no weekends. It is true that I have a business now that rarely requires firefighting. This is partly because of the nature of my business: it is almost unknown that anyone contacts me and says, “I need to network now!” in the same way customers would ring me and say “I forgot to order lunch for today! Can you help please?”  In addition, I have an amazing team of Group Directors who run their meetings and arrange all the admin relating to their meetings. I’m not involved. My job is to build the business, implement strategy, support Group Directors and members.  

I am very protective of my personal time. I worry about people who say they work 24/7 because we all need down time, time to spend time with our beloveds, time to relax and rejuvenate. So, if you do work 24/7 my questions are: “How long can you keep going and what will happen when you reach your breaking point?”

Thank you for reading, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

Thanks for your opinion

Recently I was on a Zoom meeting with people I’d never met before. We had a lovely conversation about business and life and we laughed a lot. I said that I was spending some time that day reviewing my business strategy and immediately one of the people told me what my strategy should be. Not might include or, in their opinion, might be, but this is what my strategy should be.

I was surprised because:

  • they were very certain how I should grow my business, and  
  • they seemed to think I would just do what I had been told

This got me thinking.

I think it is true to say that any strategy needs to include certain things: a goal, a plan of implementation (this can be fluid), a timescale and a review process. This is my opinion. My business strategy follows that scheme and in my case, the fluid part needs to be very fluid as opportunities come my way. The issue is that whilst business strategies may be similar, we as business owners are all different. What works for you may not work for me for various reasons, our business may be at different stages of development, we may have been in business for different times, our background, and our experiences will almost certainly be different. We may have difference in the amount of risk we find acceptable and our personal business needs, and our work/life balance may be different. Which brings me to my next point.

Doing what other people tell us to do.

When I became self-employed, I didn’t know what I was going to do, so I set myself three rules. The second was “I never do anything I don’t want to do, with anyone I don’t want to do it with” or to put it another way and to quote my beloved “You don’t do bosses well” I like that all my business decisions are mine, be they good, bad or indifferent I own them. So I listen to opinions and then I decide what I take from them, and, when I give my opinion, I expect others to do the same. If they want my further input they’ll ask, and sometimes they do.

So thank you for your opinion, I may consider it further. As a thank you, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

Be brave, ask for payment

Recently I was having a discussion with three business contacts about what tasks we found difficult as business owners, and I was surprised when two of them said they hated chasing up debts. They said that they felt embarrassed asking for payment and it was one of the jobs they often kept moving down their list of things to do. Now there are a couple of tasks I do put off but asking for my money is not one of them and I think it’s because I do think of the money as mine, not theirs. Why is that? Well, any money I am asking for is either money for work done, or money for work to be done but, whatever the situation it is money we have agreed will be paid by a certain time.

This means that, once the agreed date has passed, they owe me my money. The other thing is that, if enough people do not pay me, I will no longer be able to pay my bills or keep my business.  Now sometimes the situation changes, and the terms have to be renegotiated, who could have foreseen the business challenges of the last two year.

Now I am lucky, I have great customers and usually when they do not pay it is because they have forgotten, or their payment processes have failed. Very rarely it is because they are being difficult. Therefore, when I contact them, I assume the former and not the latter. I remind them that payment has been missed and ask what I can do to help them to make the payment. It could be they need duplicate or additional information, and it might be that I can discuss making payment with someone in their accounts department.

My approach is always positive, never aggressive, and always in a spirit of working together to resolve the problem. It has always worked, and I have never had a bad debt. My current business is slightly different because people can, when money becomes due, decide not to continue their membership and thus payment is void, but, if they say they will be renewing I ask them for the money. Until I had the discussion with my contacts, I didn’t realise that other people didn’t like to do it.

How do you feel about collecting money due?

As a thank you for reading, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun

Glenys

Brave self-employed people

Recently I was talking to a contact about being self-employed and she said that she hadn’t realised how brave you need to be when you are self-employed. This got me thinking. When I decided to leave the corporate world 25 years ago I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, just that I was having no fun, despite all the trappings of success: secretary, large office, and a parking space in London. (This latter benefit was the one that people used to get very excited about!) When talking to my beloved about leaving and setting up a business my beloved said, “Well, you’ve never done bosses well” and he was right. I always wanted to have an input, even just a tweak, of any project. Often this didn’t happen, which was frustrating. I also seemed to be spending more time keeping the politics of the organisation away from my teams so they could get on with their work, which was draining. So I decided to leave.

I was lucky in that we could afford for me to not make money, but I found it difficult not to have money coming in as I set up my first venture, an interior design business. I went from having a role I understood, with money every month, with bonus and pay rise every year to complete uncertainty about what to do, when to do it, how to do it and not worry about income. Slowly I learnt, with a lot of help from people I met, people I already knew, and a government organisation called Business Link (now sadly no more) which provided help and advice. Brilliant… and free! In fact, I was helped by people I networked with. There were nights when I didn’t sleep, sometimes because I was excited and sometimes because I was frightened, and sometimes because I was excited and frightened.

But brave? No, I never felt that.  The uncertainty suits my nature and I realised that I liked the uncertainty, the challenge of developing a business, finding opportunities and changing business, but this does not make me brave, it makes me happy. Some self-employed people might be brave, those that have to make enough to pay the bills, those that invest their redundancy money or savings to start a business. It does also not mean that those who are employed are not brave, because some provide stability for those, like me, who are having an adventure.

Whatever way you define yourself here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun

Glenys

Is it me? Am I just “Old school”… and is that a bad thing?

Recently I was talking to one of my contacts about what we wear when we are networking and let’s just say we have different styles!

I know that during lockdown some people changed their style…although I would never find that “I just got out of bed” look…or, even worse, the “I’m actually in bed just lying on top of the covers” look. I need to dress for work, and by dress, I mean make-up on, hair brushed and appropriate clothes on. In order to have full disclosure. when networking virtually I’m probably not wearing shoes, but apart from that I’m dressed as I would be if I were networking face to face. I’m representing my company and, because I want to build relationships with like-minded people, I dress smartly and by smartly, I mean business-smart. Smart casual is saved for the weekend.

The person I was discussing this with was dressed smart casual. I asked him whether he would change what he wore if he was meeting with a potential customer, a customer who would be the absolute best cherry on the cake. He said no, this is how he dressed for work. Since we know each other well I asked him “Is it me getting it wrong? Am I just a different generation? Am I old school?

He thought for a moment the he said basically “Maybe, yes and yes” That got me thinking. Do I need to rethink how I dress? One of my concerns is that if I move my style of dress for work more towards the smart casual, does that become the new norm and might it slowly move towards the casual? I believe that if I want to attract business people to me (particularly those I want to emulate) I should dress in a similar style. So my question is: Is it me? Am I just “Old school”… and is that a bad thing? For now I’m going to continue dressing as I have always dressed for work, where I feel comfortable which is not wearing “comfortable” clothes.

Whatever you are wearing as you read this, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun

Glenys

New adventures?

Well that’s it, 2021 done, cards being recycled and now looking forward to 2022.

For some, the year will come as a bit of a surprise when it comes to marketing. For others, the marketing plan is simply being continued and for others, myself included, a new year is the time I implement any new plans. Throughout any year my marketing strategy is tweaked, and during the past two years tweaking has been a process of “Flippin heck what am I going to do now?”, discussion with smarter people than me, then rapid implementation. This year may still involve some of that process: I have control of lots of things but not the challenges the world throws at me! What I can control is my response to these unexpected challenges.

So I have a strong marketing plan, and I accept that some may have better, stronger, more dynamic marketing plans than mine. That’s OK, I am a business owner and can choose what I do, how I do it and when I do it. Last September I started to seriously look at what my marketing would include in 2022 and how I would adapt if government guidelines changed. So, plan A if face-to-face meetings are allowed, and Plan B if they are not allowed. Underpinning this is marketing as usual. What has worked, what hasn’t, what needs to be changed, what needs to be increased and what needs to be ditched. Some of this decision-making is based on what I want to do and how I want to develop my business.

In 2020 I added some afternoon online networking which was always going to be online, and available free to members and available to non-members for a small fee. I really worked hard at these, honest. Then I realised that a) most of my members are breakfast people. b) this was a lot of effort for little return and, most importantly, c) this was not my core business, so I stopped. Now this may not be for ever but it is for now.

Now, 2022 will be a time for new adventures: some will succeed, some will fail and, at the moment I don’t know which one is which…isn’t that exciting?!

Want some help with your networking? Here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun

Glenys

There is enough success to go round.

Recently I was at a meeting with someone, and I asked if anyone he knew from his category might be interested in attending one of our Groups. His reply was that he would have a think and let me know. I have to say that I had been a little hesitant because, on paper, who I wanted to be introduced to could be seen as his competitor and I was not sure how he would react to that. As you may know I believe I don’t have competitors, but I know not everyone thinks like me.

I told him of my hesitancy, and he said: “Not a problem…there is enough success to go round”. I love this sentiment and for me it shows the business owner:

  1. has confidence in their product or service,
  2. accepts that people choose from people, and so there is sometimes not a fit with the potential customer and the potential supplier,
  3. that there is enough success to go round.

What does that mean?

1. If you think a potential customer will choose another supplier because their product is better in some way, then ask yourself two questions:

  • Do you want to compete with them? They may have been chosen on price. Do you want to, or are you able to reduce your prices? If the answers to these questions are “Yes” to both then why were you charging what you are currently charging? I have never, in any of my companies been the cheapest on the market, nor did I want to be. Usually I was mid-market, always with top class service.
  • Also ask yourself do you want to deal with people who are only interested in lowest price? If you agree a lower price with them then they may ask for even cheaper next time…do you want to chance this? Are you proud of your product or service? Then look for customers who see the value in what you offer.

2. We humans are unique and wonderful, and we know instinctively whether we like, or don’t like, in another human. As business owners, and as humans, we have to accept that this happens and so even if you and I, on paper, provide the same service or product, some people will like you more than me and so will want to work with you.

The reality of business is to focus on your product or service, benchmark with other, similar, companies—that’s good practice—but take your business forward with confidence and pride. After all there’s enough success to go round.

Want some help with your networking? Here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun

Glenys

Has swearing become acceptable…or am I just getting old?

Recently I attended a virtual networking event that had a speaker. It was interesting, thought-provoking, and motivational. Really, that’s not bad and I think we would all be happy if we gave such a presentation, and someone said that about it. However (and you knew that there was either a ‘however’ or a ‘but’, didn’t you?) throughout the talk he kept swearing. Not real Anglo-Saxon stuff but the speaker seemed not to know the word for “Rubbish” and used a much shorter word. So, part of the ‘thought-provoking’ was me wondering “When did swearing become acceptable in an obviously business environment?”.

I began to think it was me, and that it was because I’m no longer young, because I’d noticed similar usage on LinkedIn (patently a business platform) in newsletters and blogs etc. Each time I saw these words I stopped thinking about what was being said and I became distracted by the words being used. Now, let’s be clear—I can swear (and I think you need a flat vowel to be really able to swear) but, for me, in a business environment amongst people who you may not know very well or know at all, I think it is unacceptable.

Today I was with a Group of people all aged between 20 and 30 and so I used this as an opportunity to ask them what their thoughts were about swearing in general and in a business environment. They were also accepting of swearing in a personal social situation, but not in a business environment. They also differentiated between ‘mild’ swearing and full-on, as my Mam would say, “effing and jeffing”, and also when swearing is continuous and part of everyday conversations. Again, I agreed with these points.

In a business environment I am always representing my business, my brand and I work too hard to project that in a positive, professional way to undermine it all by swearing. Of course, I could be getting it wrong, and I am sure you will let me know.

Want some help with your networking? Here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun

Glenys

It’s all about respect for others.

Recently I ventured out and started to return to face-to-face networking with people other than my ebn Groups. I am wary because, at the moment, I’m a bit unsure about meeting people I don’t know well. So, a few weeks ago I went to an exhibition for an hour, wore my mask and kept my distance, particularly from those people who wanted to stand very, very close to me.  Then last week I went to a small networking event, and it was great. I took my mask with me, just in case I felt the need and I tried to remain mindful of distance. It all seemed familiar but a bit strange, then I realised that it was all about respect for others and that has never changed.

So what has stayed the same? Previous to all the malarkey we have been going through we didn’t crowd each other, we to a certain extent took our lead from others and wanted to be respectful of others. I have experienced instances where that respect has been in evidence and some where it has not! So, let’s look at some of these latter occasions, and all of them have happened to me:

  • People charging into a conversation, pushing cards, or leaflets in everyone’s hand and then moving on to their next ‘contact’,
  • Spraying bits of food around as people tried to eat and talk at the same time. (Worst case was the person I call ‘vol-au-vent man’),
  • People using inappropriate language, perhaps thinking they were with mates rather than contacts,
  • People looking at their phones while talking to you and—my particular favourite (not)—people who look around rather than at you when they are talking to you.

So, times may be different but respect for others has not changed. So, let’s all just be aware and build our future by making and maintaining new contacts.

In order to start or develop our relationship I offer you a gift: my Top 20 networking tips by following this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to download your copy.

Have fun

Glenys