Comfortable vs remarkable

‘Hey Charlie, I think I’m getting comfortable with this networking ‘thing’ now. I do understand when you say that it’s all about spending time, being familiar with the expectation, you’re right, it takes a while.’

Good things take time Ben …

the key is to stay the course and following through.

‘Well, I’m managing the routine now, gradually booking the appointments and I’m learning, so feeling happier.’

I can tell that Ben, just by you opening up and discussing the situation tends to show you are growing in confidence, understanding the process.

‘The process?’

The referral process. This is your ‘realisation,’ Ben, others are beginning to appreciate you as they see you grow, they come to understand your character, ask your advice and how you work. Just as you do with others.

Just now is the start of the process.

Continue with the visibility, book the meetings, the one to one and understand your marketplace. Learn from others and keep the antenna flying for possible introductions for others. The more you help, the better your ‘bizability.’

‘But I’m just getting comfortable Charlie, I’m happy where I am now.’

Where you are is great Ben. Not too comfortable now though because ‘comfortable’ brings stagnation and this is something that should never happen within your network.

Stay the course Ben, follow through, continue your path. If you are happy then the ‘process’ is working.

Next step is to begin to lose the comfort zone Ben… go the extra mile and actively pursue business on behalf of others – don’t just wait for it to happen, be the referral process you would like to see happening for you.

Nothing remarkable ever comes from being comfortable …

Assume, you could be right

A quarter of the year almost gone and micro-business Dave was asking me what he had to do to gain more clients.

Here’s a starter check-list for you Dave …

Have you approached prospects with your offer?

‘Offer?’ Came the reply.

‘I’ve a website Charlie and I’ve made sure I’ve covered my social media outlets if that’s what you mean by offer?’

Dave, you cannot assume that all of your new business is coming to you via a virtual presence alone. You need to first of all know the target audience and whether there is a need for your particular services.

‘Yes, I know that already.’ I heard

You also need to know who the budget holder is …

‘Well I’d find out if I had the opportunity!’

‘Look, it seems like a lot of hard work Charlie, I’ve put a lot of time and invested a lot of capital into creating the online presence.’

‘I’m thinking of a letterbox drop for leaflets next …’

Dave, the assumption that new business is making it’s way to your door simply because you now have a ‘singing and dancing’ website is fanciful to say the least … letterbox drop?

‘Yes, I’m printing a couple of thousand and delivering them myself.’

Steady Dave, great effort and it does bring the reward. Take the next step though and introduce the world to you, the person.

Meet the people. Then use your new-found leverage. Engage those in business who take the time to know you, who then view the website before being inspired with the confidence and trust to arrange a meeting with you and your next best client.

That’s why they call it a network Dave, you need to work the net to gain the business.

You with me Dave?

I assume Dave was listening …

Commited. Entrepreneur In or out?

Those in the Network see it daily. Some who have it and some who do not.

Building the business is not simply about ‘showing up,’ it’s more about being there to set course and follow through to destination.


There is no middle road for the commited entrepreneur, see if you recognise some of the following traits …

Those actively seeking leadership and responsibility. Many people need the comfort of following, rather than leading. Why? Because when things go wrong, it’s easier to point toward someone else. As an entrepreneur, the promises colleagues make on your behalf are your own. You need to be ready to accept that “the buck stops here” and act on the promises.

Those who exhibit surging raw ambition. Successful entrepreneurs are generally ambitious and confident in their abilities. They may have many ideas, some being more workable than others. Failure is viewed as a learning opportunity, so it’s no real disaster that some of these ideas don’t actually make the starting line first time ’round.

Minimum positive feedback required!  Yes, it’s lonely at the top. If your psyche is one that needs regular plaudits and the corresponding reward to stay motivated, you need to find a real job rather than an entrepreneurial one.

Social life is not top of the list. Unable to clear your head after a day at the front line? That’s commited. Social relationships are important sure, and you need to switch off from time to time, but if social is your priority, then you probably won’t enjoy the ride as entrepreneur.

Being comfortable with out of hours working. Some of us, perhaps those with family to support, or simply in need of peace of mind require a predictable lifestyle. Entrepreneurs learn to be flexible, they anticipate longer working hours. If you are dismayed rather than exhilarated at the amount of attention required to consolidate the business, you may be involved but not commited.

Holidays just get in the way. Most entrepreneurs I know can’t remember the last time they had a “proper” holiday (without bringing their work along.) OK, this may not appear healthy to some but it illustrates the level of commitment required to compete, to ‘exist’ in the marketplace. Those insistent on holidays “without checking in,” need go and work for a big company offering the holiday loading.

Ever thought about retirement? Surely most people involved with startups work hard, but are they simply looking toward retirement? Not so the commited entrepreneur, they wouldn’t think of retiring, even if they’ve made a fortune from the current project. The true entrepreneur enjoys the business too much to put the feet up and can’t wait to start their next venture!

Next time you meet someone with the urge to chuck the ‘day job,’ to live the dream of being their own boss, offer them a selection (or all) of the above points. See how commited they really are … before they take the leap of faith.

Vision through friends

The coffee was cold, cake a memory and as I prepared to leave the office the mobile sprang to life with text:

‘Just sent you an email, come back to me!’

The number was familiar although ‘nothing current.’ Being curious, I did of course proceed as instructed and checked ‘mail’ anyway.

Hey Charlie, it’s Jackie here!

‘Some of the kids here are with you in spirit, see the attached please and let me know what you think!?’

Now I don’t know about you but whenever I’m engaging an unfamiliar email and being instructed to check the attachment, I’m a little cautious …

Still, I was curious and didn’t ‘bin’ this one but parked it, then dispatched the remainder of the (now ice) coffee and escaped with the boss (dear dog.)

It was some time later I’d recovered from the latest ‘trek’ and approached the kitchen for refreshment once again …

‘Did you get the message from Jackie?’ A distant shout came from Sue.

Memory was restored! ‘Jackie’ was the Carer for an elderley some-time client, someone I catch up with much too sparingly, only occasionally.

I returned to the email and scanning the contents immediately felt more positive about prospects.

The note began:

Hey Charlie, Jackie here, a note from the school front …

We had a sit down with the kids today (six 5 year olds) and we asked them to play along …

‘First we asked them to close their eyes until the count of ten and to think about what they were good at. We also asked the kids to think about where they would like to be when they grow up?’

”As you can imagine, the room erupted with shrieks of enthusiasm and the first hand that shot up I immediately thought of you:’

‘I’m really good at helping people.’ Came the answer from said 5 year old. ‘When I grow up I want to be surrounded by my friends.’

So, why tell me this Jackie?

I needed just a minute before the ‘penny finally dropped’ …

Jackie had been reminded of something by her young companion … something that she and I had discussed many times in the past. We’d talked how Carers needed help just like everyone else. The most helpful of people need their friends and just a little support at times.

Jackie also knew that the network of friends was one of the reasons I enjoyed my business so much and hence she was so taken aback by the youngsters comments, it became the reason she decided to make contact.

Sometimes kids have a great way of enlightening us to some of life’s really important stuff, like the mutual benefits that come through helping friends.

I was happy … my first testimonial of 2017, even if it was from a 5yr old!


Time tells …

It was one of those clear, crisp Autumn mornings … so wife, father-in-law (George) and I took some time to walk down through the gardens to the church yard. We crossed the old ‘falling-down’ bridge and up, through the gates leading to our destination.

We were here just last month. George had wanted to show us the grave of his own grandmother, laid to rest some 80 years past and a headstone still offering a surprisingly easy read to the stone inscription. George had a question regarding ‘Stephen,’ the family member mentioned and accompanying, ‘Harold’ who had been killed at the Somme …

Stephen had been unaccounted for.

George could identify with certain stories his mother passed on about Harold over time though had he not heard anything about Stephen. It was clear he wished to learn more.

So I’d asked a friend (genealogist) to spend some time and research George and his part of the family and it was just a short time later he returned with news. Stephen had been formally listed as missing in action (MIA) although our current investigation tells us now … Stephen had survived certain wounds in hospital, outlasted the war and after a time he’d been traced living in southern Europe with his adopted family!

What would ‘they’ have thought!

A bemused George led us away past a mature ‘Wingnut’ tree spanning some 18 metres and which was looking all of it’s 25 years … clearly more than a little past prime time.

These get-away too fast, they’re bonnie trees but just too keen to tak a hold and lose their way in the soft earth n the ‘clarts.’ That’ll be felled afore lang.’ stated George.

Thats canny good ower there ‘ George directed our gaze to a ‘Cypress,’ the same age as our Wingnut though not as tall at just a little over 3 metres. Straight and strong.

Added George, ‘that’n will be heor long affta that big-un is gone, these tyek thor time te establish yee knaa.’

I continued to mull-over (interpret?) George’s view, taking time to dwell over insights to the headstone, those long overlooked facts uncovered, laying hidden until now …

Aye, yee could write a book aboot tha un.’ says George wistfully.

‘Now there was an idea.’ I thought to myself … half listening and thoroughly pre-occupied with our trees. While George pondered his own questions, I observed my own relationship with colleagues throughout our regular business referral group …

George, I thought … I’d much rather understand the advantages time spent building solid foundations than the results the alternative may bring…

People, funny?

“People are funny”

I find I quote this phrase regularly during conversation, even to myself although most often when I’m indulging with friends over a ‘sticky bun’ and a decent coffee.

I find engagement with like-minded souls is always good for the morale and if we’re lucky we receive more than just a boost for the psyche. An introduction perhaps, even a smile!

After all, people are just like me, they’re much like you – hey, we’re all alike and although we surely have our very different views on life, it’s one of the essential ingredients when reflecting with a smile … how people have that great ability to lift you up when you are down or level the ‘playing field’ when you fly too high.

I recently had an acquaintance get in touch, calling early one evening whilst I was demolishing a fine … home baked rice pudding …

Anyway by the sound of his voice, Shah was having troubles. His wife was leaving him, his children, now post teen, had moved out and with the home-front in disarray, the business was suffering.

Shah initially called to ask me for money. He thought this may be the cure.

Rarely have I set aside the rice pudding once I’d started. I was not about to ignore it at this point either, so I suggested we meet up.

The opportunity came at the local hostelry – always a good idea (and no, it’s not somewhere I often frequent, much!) I insisted on ale, Shah and I had a chat.

It was all too apparent Shah needed to talk. He was very good at talking and with limited family engagement and no-one listening to his recent domestic plight he turned to someone (me) who might just listen. I like to listen. It soon became apparent that Shah had historic family problems that required his attention and his business needed an interim manager to enable him to manage the home front. He was uncertain how to go forward, he continued to talk and I simply listened over my ale.

Shah is part of my own network of friends/colleagues. Until recently I was frequently meeting with him and a number of other independent businesses for referral engagement. The reasons for his regular absences were unclear – until just now.

After a most enjoyable soirée at the aforementioned hostelry it was agreed that we meet with some key people within the business forum – after all, what is an affinity group all about if not to offer support and guidance to a colleague?

The meeting of minds took place the following week, we found the right connection who knew the right kind of people for business support, Shah took time off to be with his family – and pretty soon we saw him smiling again.

“People are funny” is something I often repeat (yes, to myself if there is no-one else around) and Shah is indeed funny.

Shah had built a trusted network of contacts over the years and here he was – blinded by his plight where he simply couldn’t see a way forward until … he asked for help through the aid of conversation, engagement and …it cost him nothing but the odd ale …

Shah now sees the value of his network. People can help you engage, develop and grow, so build the relationships and ask in confidence.  He

Pre-sales over espresso?

Deirdre and I were enjoying our ‘one to one’ over a great espresso – right after our network Forum when suddenly she came out with a statement that took me back a little …

“I really do need to start getting some orders out of the group soon; I need to make it pay.”

I hadn’t seen this side of Deirdre before. I mean, we’re all working hard (to work smart) in cultivating the business aren’t we? For some of us we simply needed to ‘try the different angle’ I replied.

So we chatted and I suggested to her that if she stays true to herself, supports her group and continues to offer help when required – and of course take any additional exposure offered, all things being true, the reward for all the effort would be plain to see.

“I hear you, I just need to start picking up referrals otherwise it’s not worth my while.’

worth while

‘Not worth my while?’ I poured more coffee.

It’s times like these that bring a certain salience to the purposes of network relations. I couldn’t help myself; I had to ask what was her while worth? What was the number?

I’d made my own calculations. We don’t ‘pay’ a member fee, there is no training programme to support and neither do we have a compulsory promotions strategy. The only numbers were the lunch and the time spent away from the office …

OK, I know I’m biased. Networking has been a great support for my own business and I do understand that some who inhabit ‘network-land’ need to be claiming reward for their ‘relationship building time’ and efforts spending their ‘worth’ but I really don’t ‘get’ the time limit for referral when the bigger picture is there to see. We know it takes time to gain the confidence of others so that when I introduce Deirdre to Dear Fred who introduces her to Joe Bloggs who happens to need a whole host of regular purchases … then of course there are the other outlets they may have …etc.

Sure, the ‘hunter’ sales mentality is still around; it has to be for some like Deirdre who inhabit ‘sales’ or ‘account management.’ For me this won’t change until the ‘culture’ of the organisation itself evolves.

These days it’s so much easier to buy much of what you want, at the price you want when you want online and the ‘hard sell’ just does not form part of the culture.

We need to give more time, give our audience reasons to engage us, to learn and understand our offer. ‘Pre-sales service’ plays a much greater role than many realise and even though it wasn’t working with Deirdre’s company, I’m sure many ‘savvy’ businesses are beginning to see the light.