Happiness

‘I remember that song …’ I thought to myself.

We all know how it works don’t we? You realise that the tune on the radio has taken us back to somewhere. Usually a special “somewhere.”

Or it may be a shout-out from the DJ – ‘any requests’?  We recall our favourites. These days I even find it difficult to choose between the favourite songs on my own playlist. It can be nigh impossible to select.

But when we get it right?

We recall the words, some of us are brave enough to attempt a sing-along! We go with the flow, we remember the message, and what we learned as well.

So it was when I picked up a call from someone from the other side of the world recently … I hadn’t heard from Michael for 25 years.

Michael was selling his business. He sounded excited about a future with more free time and being able to board a plane to catch up with friends.

He was now planning a visit to the UK, booking the next available flight ‘whenever that may be.’  We had an ‘easy’ conversation, lots of common interests. Mutual friends. We talked of the home town and covered the dim and distant past as if it were yesterday.

Michael and I always had a good relationship. I was looking forward to hearing about his plans for the future.

Charlie, he said, you know the best times for me are when I’m spending time with close friends. Even after 25 years, you and I can relate, with the same views the similar understanding that we always had. Our group of friends spent time growing and learning together.

Agreed Michael. I look forward to catching up when we see you.

I’ll keep you informed Charlie. You know this, the best relationships are those developed over time. Time together brings us familiarity. We share stories, we learn what makes others happy and in turn , that makes us happy.

Sharing those familiar tunes, Michael.

Knowing me, knowing you

Again, I was with a bunch of friends via ZOOM recently, we were discussing the value of LinkedIn and similar online networking platforms.

It was more than curiosity that drove me. I understand that some folk view networking as a vessel for new leads while others look for learning, peer affinity. Networking fulfils different needs for everyone, even so, I asked the question:

‘How often do you post the benefits your company offer?’ You see, I’ve often wondered how many individuals actually reach out.  I thought it was simple enough, ‘how often do you shout about your business?’

I followed up with another, more pointed question. 

‘What do you bring to your network?’
There was a minute or so contemplation. Then came the description of their own services, the quality, the reach. The product range was mentioned, customer service, pricing, availability. Someone even suggested that years of experience was available to customers. Just a phone call away …” 

I felt it wasn’t enough, I wasn’t satisfied, so I put the question another way: ‘

“Do you engage your network often?”

“Whenever I have something to offer, I’ll post.” came a reply …

“I leave the maintenance of our ‘social media’ to someone else.” said another …

“Occasionally, perhaps once or twice per year. We don’t like to ‘spam’ people.” and …

“I like the customer to come to me.” replied the optimist.

So, we finished our conversation and yes, I did admit that I don’t offer nearly enough information through my network.

Bear with me. I needed to respond to my colleagues …

‘Whenever I have something to offer, I’ll post?”   It’s not ALL about the selly-sell. If we’re not conversing we’re not participating right? We’re not cultivating empathy.

I leave the maintenance of our ‘social media’ to someone else.” As the business owner you should know what is offered to prospects, otherwise how can you plan for the future?

“Occasionally, perhaps once or twice per year. We don’t like to SPAM people?”  If you don’t have enough confidence to see past the SPAM value, then will your prospect?

“I like the customer to come to me.”  Hey, me too. The thing is, that new customer is not going to come to you, if they don ‘t know what you’ve got!

No wonder there are people in business ‘out there’ disillusioned with the value of online networking. It’s not enough to be simply a ‘member’ of a network, paid for or otherwise, especially during these times.

To be considered authoritive, engaging, forward thinking, the professional business needs to regularly reach-out, show and tell, set examples, tell stories. We need to earn the right to serve. It’s not called networking for nothing.


You are the pilot

So, twelve months on, working through a global crisis.
Another new financial year and I hope this finds you in that same moment of reflection as it does myself because I want to help with what’s to come. 
My Wish …

My wish to you in the forthcoming new financial year is that the right people know more about you and that they become just as excited about what you’re doing as you do yourself.

My wish for you from April 6th, the new business tax year, is that you find within yourself the commitment and discipline to keep your passions alive, that you share them with all those who need what you’re doing and providing. 

If however, for whatever reason, you’re not currently working on something you feel passionately about, I wish that the next twelve months prove to be your breakout year,  I hope that you become the main protagonist, that you find the instigators and influencers who really shout about your business.

I hope that you dare to drive a van painted bright yellow – with your mission blazed in red alongside it!  I hope you keep your hair lock-down long and that you try that online yoga course. I hope you hoist your flag higher than anyone else. I hope you tell that person you’ve loved forever that you do all this for them.

My wish is that you yearn for more … but show abundant gratitude for what you have. Make the “abundant” be about your capabilities and your ability to serve. Make the “what you have” serve you well, never looking for anchors when success comes from sails. 

Wealth comes from serving others, so find those you can help and help them. Don’t worry about the how’s or why’s. Be helpful. All my money came from two places: failure, and helping others. And remember that money isn’t the definition of wealth. It’s a by-product.

My wish for you is that you learn from the fears of a horrible past 12 months, some that need facing once again. We’ve come so far … those fears that we need once more to visit we’re prepared & practised for.

Now we’re ready, we’re ready for the new better.

My wish for you is that you really get to know those around you. Weeklybiz is the vessel, it’s been my dream these past ten years. The creator of your dreams though, is you and you are the pilot and you already know the way ahead.

Independence


It was during our regular ‘Weeklybiz’ meeting when Gareth asked the room for their opinion. Gareth is a coach; he has great skills in bringing the best out of people by simplifying the bigger issues. His question today raised great debate …

“I’d like to know what makes someone decide to start up a business, work for themselves?

‘More money!’ came a call from the cheap seats …

Some suggested independence was the chance to be our own boss, being in charge of our own destiny. Others that by following the self-employed route we’re abandoning the treadmill of the organisation and of course there are people who find themselves out of a job, so going it alone … and with a plan, becomes a necessity.”

There are certain individuals who have independence as part of their DNA, the very thought of working for someone else isn’t considered. What is it that drives them on?

Control? Personal success? The satisfaction of achieving through their own means? Surely there is faith in their own ability to succeed … ambition?

Perhaps the need to leave a transferable legacy of our work is the catalyst?

There was much to consider.

Speaking for myself, I relate to a little of everything mentioned above. My father was self-employed for most of his life, both my brothers also. I’ve found we tend to follow those with influence, peers who test the water for us, those we admire as they light the way. We see this very much in evidence via ‘social’ community, don’t we?  

Independence is hugely desirable, never more so than today.

That desire, the calling for independence can come at any time.

Consider Brian D. Powell, he had a long and distinguished career fighting fires and saving lives. A lauded genius who gained recognition as a pioneer in the field of health and safety, Brian took the decision to leave the establishment late in life, to follow his passion.  Dedicating himself to his art, his independence.

If we’re not born with ‘it’ then what drives the yearning? Why the need for fulfilment via independence?

The realisation most often coincides with the understanding that we have the passion, know-how, skills, tools and the vision to achieve.

Trusting in ourselves, being comfortable in our shoes we embrace our independence as we step forward.

It happens, get over it

Growing up in ’50s West Australia, I recall most days were happy, full of fun with two brothers not much younger than me. There’s no doubt our parents, recent immigrants found those early years pretty tough.

No promise of prosperity.

Dad moved quite a bit with work which meant we moved house often, never settling. Even as a kid I realised this time was particularly tough for mum, though she never talked about it.
Bringing up three children in a new country, without family connections, there wasn’t a lot of time for her. No way to put roots down, grow. Eventually, other families from the UK arrived, they too found it tough establishing themselves, so we didn’t get to see much of them.

‘It happens.’ I hear you say.

It was an unsettled time but it was a busy, exciting time for us young, naive kids. I remember the family took the day-night train to the East coast for the second time following dad. This is when my parent’s marriage began to deteriorate. Uneasy, tough, unpredictable times.

I found myself at my second prep school with my brothers ‘settling’ into a third primary … and a sister due in the world any time soon! 
In reflection, we all worked to keep the family together, I remember mum taking jobs to support us. We never considered ourselves poor. The family always had enough. Mum even found me my first Saturday work, my first ‘real’ job.


At about fourteen years old I began to wonder how friends managed to have all the right stuff, the latest sports equipment, the best bicycle etc.
I was becoming influenced by peers and came to learn how better stuff, extra things might be attainable.


‘Get over it!’ I hear you say again …

Ok, so I’ll cut to the chase.
Almost forty years later I find myself content with life. I’ve lived and worked, I’ve met those ‘better things.’ I’m lucky to have a loving family, made great friends, started businesses and closed them. I’ve started up again. I’m accused of being a trouble-maker, rabble-rouser. I’ve picked up pieces, learned lessons and carried on.


You see, the path my brothers and sister walked with mum and dad, while it seemed tough, it was our ‘normal.’  Tough was normal.
Life has a habit of throwing challenges out along the way and these have galvanised me to some extent. I’ve learned the value of reaching out, engaging people. When doing so I’m offering time to observe, listen, hold a conversation and ask questions.


I’ve enjoyed finding out how to be comfortable in my shoes. I found out a long time ago that life isn’t about bigger, better things but the better people in your life … life is about how we adapt, relate.

What goes around …

The call came in:

‘Hey Charlie, Steve here, long time no see? I’ve developed a great new product and I wondered whether you would be kind enough to pass on the news to friends within your network for me?
Blah … blah … this ‘n that, blah, great offers, blah – and by the way, hope all is well with you?’

My immediate response to Steve’s question was yes, sure, no problem … Happy to do so! Steve’s enthusiasm captivated me, I wanted to help him (because help is what I do.) 

Although …

You know, people often come to me with requests to spread the word about their business. I’ve been doing just that for the last ten years through close connections. There is value in supporting each other, it’s something I strongly believe in.

We all know that reciprocal arrangement, the unwritten rule of life and business, ‘what goes around comes around?’ That same arrangement continues to attract the ‘right kind’ of people to the network and it’s for that reason, I see why Steve called me.  After all, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

So, in this instance, I wasn’t sure how to tackle Steve’s question … ‘Charlie, pass the news on to friends in the network?’ 

I really didn’t know Steve so well, an acquaintance of a friend so to speak, so I decided to call him back, make him an offer … ‘

Steve, thanks for the news, why not come along to the meeting, introduce yourself? Show your face, spend an hour or so as you extol the virtues, the value of the new project you’re involved with?’ 

Charlie, I appreciate the invitation although networking is not for me and to be honest I simply don’t have the time. I’d be grateful though if you would give them my details?’ 

So don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for Steve and hope his new idea takes off. I’ll mention his news, although I couldn’t personally recommend a product or service I haven’t used myself to close friends or family.

Good business comes via those we know well. Referrals take time and are earned. Strong reputations we build through trust. Because business is personal.

Take time for conversation

I sat down for a ZOOM chat with Adam the other day, he’s decided to start-up a domestic cleaning business. We shared the virtual cake …
His first question to me?

Can networking help my business?

It’s a question I’ve heard many times and I’ve always given the same answer:
Yes, networking can help your business start-up. With enthusiasm, ambition and desire we inspire others. Attitudes are infectious and listening to you as you talk up the business, share dreams, goals, products or services, we’re often empowered to refer you to others.
Networking is a great way to kick-start any new business.

Even in today’s economic climate?

In any business landscape, correct. Talk about the people, someone else’s magic and you start the gossip …
The aim of networking is to develop the diary of connections, broaden the horizons. Spread the good word, the benefits of association, all through word-of-mouth.

I could do that, the same through social media, couldn’t I?

Of course, and I see you already do that, although the difference between an ‘average’ referral and ‘great’ one is always the personal connection.

So, I need to spend time developing skills, how long does it take to become successful when networking??

You can grow your audience through social, collect the likes, shares and emojis. the difference is the Unique Selling Person.

The difference when we spend time with others? Nothing beats your presence, being ‘there’ for when a potential client needs help. To excel, with your audience, show your values, your ‘why’ your ‘how’ and where you work, the difference is personal. It’s you.

Develop your listening skills, Adam, be reflective and converse, share wisdom, allow others to learn from you. Familiarity develops certainty, so spend time knowing your audience, the market. You ask how long?


People buy from people who they know, like and trust.

the gift of time

Chrissie called the landline this morning to let me know that she wasn’t going to make the ZOOM call this week.

That’s just like Chrissie, I thought.  Calling to speak instead of a simple text or email, I admired that about her. It was unlike her to miss the weekly ‘human interaction’ and so I asked whether there was anything I could do to help? 

Nothing new to offer from me this week Charlie, I’ll take the week off, perhaps that will ‘do the trick’ and I’ll return inspired, refreshed!

There are many occasions when misguided thoughts can thwart our intentions. Chrissie offered a prime example. I’ve known many in business believe that networking is about ‘what’s new, what do I have to offer??  Or, what can I give?’  Of course, networking is so much more than what you have …

The greatest gift we’re able to offer one another is time, attention.  By being there, listening.

Yes,  it’s understood, Chrissie knows this already. She may have ‘other stuff’ happening,  jobs to do – family – we all have stuff, right?

From past experience, I’ve learned the main reason we’re networking, meeting on regular basis is to be there to offer support for those who need it. We’re together to learn from one another and wherever possible, lend our expertise, offering solutions.

We offer our own views on the topics of the day, together with best business practice and by being attentive we’re making ourselves available…

Marvellous things happen during a conversation. We listen as we hear, relate, we develop self-reflection, we have something to offer and so we overcome the scarcity Chrissie mentions. By participating in the GIFT of group conversation we’re learning the language of others, leading to empathy & trust.

There’s another oft-overlooked magic that comes through conversation. The regular conversation develops the relationships, opportunity.

Give the gift of attention,  conversation, inspire through collaboration.

Training for your discipline

How do you feel?

What do you do when the business you love begins to promise so much?

You dare to build on that promise, you dream big, you start to see progress from all the graft with the route to fulfilment becoming reality. The promise of success excites, doesn’t it?

All is well until …

The very path we’re following, channelling the time and energy changes forever with the arrival of negative market forces. Worse still, the changes are something we’re unable to control, suddenly there’s a feeling of helplessness when the strategy, the certainty we once had in place is all but gone, we’re driven to look at strategy. Plan B.

Planning on how to pivot the business.

The above scenario is affecting organisations large and small everywhere just now and for one such business owner, with an established fitness studio, twelve months ago Beth found her livelihood under threat of permanent closure unless she found a way to keep her clients and the money coming in.

Being so ‘wrapped up’ in the day to day of the business can be debilitating, although Beth somehow had the foresight to develop a strategy, at the same time brave enough to admit to herself that she needed help taking the concept of the pivot to reality. 

Gareth Shackleton eventually met with Beth and discussed (amongst other things) ambition, what was possible (or not) today, building for tomorrow including five components that VALUE the business all before sitting down to discuss Action – working on the new baby, the result of ‘pivot.’ 

With Gareth’s help, Beth came up with a plan to incorporate an existing degree held in Sports Therapy with her broader life skills, those as a former jockey and competitive horsewoman. This strategic move tied in with a client offer of all-round defined fitness for both rider … and horse!

Equine biomechanics.

Before long, ‘Equiskills’ was established combining the fundamentals of Pilates, inner physical and mental fitness, all presented as a rounded offer in a series of online tutorials … ‘Training for your Discipline.’ 

.  .  .

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary plans and by taking the time to share the ambition with recommended, trusted friends it can be possible to step outside of the comfort zone and realise the benefits of enforced change.

Off to market?

So how do we know when could be the right time to sell the business and move on?
Perhaps a combination of external forces could trigger a long-desired need for diversity, or adapt, personal circumstances sometimes enforce change, partnerships are disputed, there are a myriad of reasons why the business we’ve built, spent so much time nurturing seemingly becomes passe. It may simply seem like the right time to leave the business, start afresh …

Some of us were lucky enough to hear Gareth Shackleton offer a presentation at a recent Weekly Business network. Gareth brought VALUE to the meeting. The business ‘value’ may be considered in this way:

V.A.L.U E.

Value? What do the figures say, the intrinsic difference between incoming and outgoing? What say the bottom line?

Acquirers?  Do you have interest from potential buyers for your business?  Are they genuinely interested in continuing the legacy or simply looking at the aforementioned bottom line …? What’s in it for them? 

Lipstick?  If we’re going to present our business to potential buyers, we should portray the enterprise in a way that she looks attractive. Going to market? Dress up the positive, accentuate clarity so that any potential candidate might find it easy to step forward, at the right price.

Understanding?  Your buyers will need to understand you somewhat in making up their mind whether your business is for them. There will be time spent working on how your business excels, how it contributes to the existing marketplace and perhaps additionally, why did you start in the first place?

Extras?  What are the benefits to your potential buyer? Try to visualise where/why your business is especially attractive to a potential buyer and so find ways to accentuate the positive value now and in the future.

Sounds simple enough? Agreed, for some, the process may need no explanation, although there’s still plenty of ‘work’ to do in preparation of moving on from the business we’ve spent time bringing to market. The challenge is continuing to sustain the business if we’re considering stepping away.

I’ve always felt that the trusted network has so much more to offer than a cultivated route to orders on the day book, the above example is surely confirmation to that. Cheers, Gareth!

How do we know when the time is right? We talk. It’s always good to talk.

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