Running my own business for 7 years was no easy task. I jumped in the deep end and started flapping my arms in an attempt to swim. My initial thought was to try to get to the edge, back to shore and to safety but I quickly learned a few lessons that made staying in that deep water all too enticing!
7) “Stress is the resistance of what is”
I can’t remember where I heard or read that quote but it has stuck with me through some of the biggest stresses of running my business. If I relate it to jumping in the deep end, it’s the fearful thrashing about that does nothing but wears you out and makes you sink faster. Instead, relax. Look at the ‘problem’ and see it is just an opportunity to learn something new. Then get to learning and fixing.
6) Be Relentless
The work doesn’t stop and neither should you. If you do stop, someone will take your place. There’s always something you can do. If you’re not making the product, cutting the hair or doing whatever it is that you do, tell someone about what it is that you do. If you’ve done that, clean something. Do a stocktake. Clean your tools. Jump onto Google and research your competitors. Speak to your accountant. Work on your ever-changing business ‘plan’. Anything. Just don’t stop.
5) Start Conversations
You’re going to be talking to a lot of different people from sales reps, customers, friends and those all important tele-marketers. They come to you with a world of experience different to your own. Start a conversation with them and listen to what they have to say. Most people will see things different to you and that is a good way to see things sometimes. Ask them about their lives and listen. They’ll most likely be happy to tell you a few stories and it will help you understand how you can be better use in the future. You’ll also make great friends in the process.
Note: Yes, I mentioned tele-marketers. They’re people too and by not being a jerk on the phone, I learned a great deal about myself and a few tricks on how to make steel rust.
4) Finding Your ‘Why’
I’m a huge fan of Simon Sinek. His Ted Talk on Finding Your Why is one I highly recommend you watch. Early on, when planning my business (planning is such a loose term for me) I neglected to focus on making money. Instead I set upon making friends, building community and creating a platform from which I could help those around me. This, I think, is why my customers returned time and time again. They became great friends of mine and were more than happy to support in any way they could. I think this is why Riding Way was voted Bike Roar’s Favourite Bike Shop in Australia, 2 years in a row!
3) Price is NOT the key
I think this is a big one. The customers you want to keep don’t always buy on price. Read that again. The customers you want to keep don’t always buy on price. On that note, “Mate’s Rates” is full bloody price, mate! Price yourself, your products, your services to what they’re worth. How much study have you done? What’s your experience level? How good is your product? Check your competitors and make sure you’re at least similar. Then, forget about your prices. Focus on how your business is going to be better for your customer’s needs. No one is a $5 customer. They’re a $10,000 customer if you let them be.
2) Put your Heart and Soul into your business.
Deep water is where you’ll find the stuff that’s worth it and you’ll only learn to swim if you give it every damn thing you have. Be the business you want to support. Make it as personal for you as it is for your customers. Make friends more than customers by giving them a piece of yourself every time they leave. They’ll return it with a piece of themselves attached. With your heart and soul wrapping your business and hugging it tight, you’ll be able to see much clearer how and where to invest time, money and energy back into it. Something I wrote when preparing this article goes something like this;
Passion doesn’t make more dollars but it
Makes every dollar more valuable.
1) Ask for help! Find a mentor!
After starting my business, I realised I knew nothing. I had 15+ years doing what I went into business to do but still, I felt like I knew nothing at all; I had to ask for help. Putting the call out, I asked a few people then a few more. I got all sorts of advice and help that started making the right difference. Then I found one bloke who started to make more sense than ever. We talked regularly, often many times in a week, sometimes many times throughout a single day. He was more a numbers guy while I was the dreamer. I think the key to the deal working so well was that I (hope I) helped him as much as he helped me. It definitely went both ways. It’s definitely ok to ask for help and often, is the key to getting through whatever it is that’s stopping your progression. Sometimes you need someone who can just tell it to you straight. Someone to filter your bullshit and make sure you don’t send that angry email to your landlord. Sometimes You need their perspective to help clarify your own. Thanks Chris.
Find a mentor. Be their mentor.
I should note that while I learned these in business, they could just as easily be applicable to life.