Recently I had to ring a small company with a couple of queries. The lovely woman I spoke to (let’s call her Lucy, because that’s her name), helped and resolved my first query. I then said I had another query, which might be another department and Lucy chuckled. She said “I am that department too”. Then she summed up, in one sentence, the challenge that faces many small businesses, she said “In fact, really, I am all the departments”.
I can remember when I started my first business. The shock of realising that I was responsible for everything: marketing, toilet paper, doing work that had been secured, accounts (particularly getting money in) and paying staff and bills, plus contracts and HR. The list went on and I had been used to have departments for each thing, in my lovely corporate office looking over London. I had my private parking space and if I needed anything then the relevant department did whatever it was and actually, I was often even separated from asking, since my secretary managed my office.
I can remember the first few months of self-employment, as I got used to doing it all and always feeling I was missing something (often I was right!). I was sometimes overwhelmed by, as some people say, having many hats to wear.
As my business grew, five things happened:
I developed and fine-tuned systems and processes so they, and I, became more efficient.
The business grew.
I discovered networking and met other small business owners.
Some of these small business owners took on some of the non-work requirements, so my list reduced to looking after customers and adding new ones.
My business really grew!
Lucy made me remember how I had got to where I am and how learning I didn’t have to be all departments had helped me to focus on what I was really good at and which I loved doing. I stopped feeling overwhelmed on a regular basis and started to enjoy being a business owner with the responsibilities that involves.
If you are feeling that you are tired of saying “I am that department” in your business, then let me help you with your networking, here’s a gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips. Just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.
Recently I’ve had a lot of paperwork and research to do. Now, of course, almost any job has some element of admin and small business owners can sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed by the admin side of their company. Admin relating to
keeping the business going, accounts, keeping up to date with things like policies, legal requirements,
staff, pay, training, development, welfare
personal development and personal welfare
work being carried out
payments, customer interaction
the other 101 jobs that are there.
No wonder we can get to the exhausted and overwhelmed stage!
After nearly 30 years of running my own business, and with the help of a business coach who worked with me for nearly two years and helped me get organised. To be completely honest I don’t like admin, it seems so boring, except issuing invoices, I love issuing invoices, when I spend some time wondering how I’m going to spend the profit!
One of the things I was taught was to spend quality time on admin. The great Mark Twain said “If you have to eat a live frog, do it first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.” ! Since admin is my “live frog”, every morning I set my timer for 30 minutes and do admin. If I need to set the timer again and again then that’s Ok but admin get’s done first before I really start the day. My live frog gets eaten. Then I focus on what I am doing, knowing that the admin for the day has been done. And, of course, occasionally something “urgent” pops up but often even these urgent things can wait till the frog eating session the next morning.
So, I wonder, what’s your “live frog”?
While you are thinking about that here’s a gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips. Just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.
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.
Recently I was talking to a business contact who said she was too busy at the moment to network. It is great that her business is thriving, but I think she is wrong about thinking the right time to network is when she is not busy.
Why? Because networking takes time. It’s a slow burn and people need to get to know you before they will be prepared to trust their reputation by referring you to their contacts. If you don’t network there may be a steep downturn between busy and no work at all. You need to maintain relationships, or even start to build relationships. I know this balancing of actual work against possible work is difficult, but remember: networking can be done by email, via social media, telephone calls, virtual meetings or 1-2-1s. Networking is about starting conversations, starting to build relationships. If the past months have taught us anything, it is that face-to-face is fantastic. I can’t wait to get back to those meetings, but there are other ways that allow networking.
Also, when you network skills are learnt, maintained and improved by practice, so if you stop networking, because you’re too busy, your skills can become rusty. In addition, maintaining your networking means that you stay on people’s radar. If you stop networking people will forget you, however fabulous you are, or think you’ve gone out of business, particularly given the challenging times we have all had since March 2020.
One of the things I have noticed in this last year+ is the number of new people who are networking, either because they decided to start a business in a very difficult year or because they have started to network because they feel more confident being in their office than in a room full of people. (If this is you, make face-to-face networking easy by reading my blog “The 3-3-3 rule” https://www.ebn.uk.com/blog/?p=34 )
Why is this relevant to your decision to network or not? Because if you don’t network you will miss the opportunity to meet all these new people and that’s a fabulous opportunity missed in my opinion, because you don’t know who they know.
So—don’t leave networking for when you aren’t busy. Add some networking to your diary every day, even if it’s just a phone call as you drink your morning coffee. Find a way to maintain your presence, contacts, and relationships. Networking works, I know. I now do it for a living.
You will probably not be surprised to know that I do a lot of networking. Now, of course, networking is my only business, so I do it as business as well as for business. But I have always done networking as a major part of my marketing, whatever business I have owned. The result of all this activity is that I meet lots of wonderful people. However, I have a problem…I forget things. (Strangely this is getting worse the older I get so I think maybe my brain has reached storage capacity.)
Often this memory loss looks like this: after the event I gaze at the business card I have from someone (or in these virtual days I gaze at the chat, or at a picture on LinkedIn). (Actually, LinkedIn photos are a whole other blog) and I gaze but can I remember them, no.
I am sure I am not alone in this memory glitch syndrome, so I thought I’d share what I do when doing the obligatory follow-up*. The upshot of this reality of my life is that I have a rule, which is: if there are any outstanding follow-ups from the previous week still outstanding they always get done on a Monday. Why? Because:
People don’t get forgotten, and feel ignored (yes they might contact you, but they may not, and your marketing should not be dependent on other people making the best use of their networking),
I have a clear ‘to do’ list as I start the new week’s networking, and given the memory issue,
I can say “Great/good/lovely to meet you last week” and I know I have met them last week!
So, when networking and building relationships, time, for me, is really of the essence.