2016 is going to go down in our history books as one of the biggest year of personal growth - a close second to the year when we started our first business. They say tough times don't last - tough people do - well we think that's ever so slightly 'hardening' and we don't really believe that 'hardening up' is the answer for the future of our country and ultimately our world.
We'd like to say that growing, stretching and learning through tough times without any negative baggage is what separates the gurus and leaders from the masses.
2016 was a watershed year for this team! It was the year we launched our dream concept of an entrepreneurial hub for the unfunded bootstrapped entrepreneur. We started out like many other do-gooders' armed with the money in our bank, a dream and a deeply burning desire and passion to make a difference to in our communities. We worked long and hard - building our own office concept - desk by desk - rand for rand - moment to moment we lived. We believed that if you build it and have a genuine desire to make a difference 'they' would come...we believed in the fact that if we give 3000% of ourselves to (both) our businesses - we could only but succeed - the odds were definitely stacked in our favour. We are excellent at marketing - gosh darn it - we have almost 30 yearsa experience in great agencies in building brands - we've serviced some of the most difficult clients this side of the equator - we know how to 'suck-it-up''. We you see - that's where the learning comes in...and here we're going to share our learnigns from 2016 in the hopes that it will help some of you in 2017. I'm a firm believer in learning from other's mistakes - because if it crosses your path - it's meant for you too. So here's me sharing:
- Have a business plan. It doesn't matter how many companies you have or think you've had - don't get too smart assed to think you don't need handle this one. You do and should - even if it's a one pager. If you don't know where you're going - how do you expect everyone else to follow you?
- Have a marketing and advertising strategy and communications plan. Hell - I'm preaching my own sermon here - but do you think I do it for myself... naaah - of course not! Because I can do this stuff in my sleep right! Ya - clearly - better for all my clients - but not for myself!!! What's that all about!!!!
- Listen to other people by all means, but make your own decisions. People mean well by giving you advice - but only you know yourself and your circumstances. They have their own lives to live and won't always be able to be there when the going get's tough.
- Follow the breadcrumbs - a great piece of advice I received from a wonderful lady in my network. And boy was I ignoring the breadcrumbs! Messages don't always come in neon shouties - some are whispers, some are just simply signs that urge you to sit up and take notice of the turning tides - become centred and aware - because it's only by being deeply self connected that you will receive your own personal bread crumb messages along the yellow brick path of life.
- Don't take your health for granted. Look after yourself. You are the key person in your business - if you aren't looking after yourself - how do you expect to be able to look after your clients or customers? Exercise regularly - nothing hectic if you're not that way inclined - yoga or walking will do the trick! Remember to eat and re-hydrate according to your body's requirements.
- Don't allow any negativity in your space! I liken it to 'death-eaters' - it will suck the very passion and joy out of you leaving you a shriveled up zombie living in survival mode. You are an entrepreneur - a creative - a maverick - a hustler - make sure you feed your soul with daily inspiration, motivation and creativity and keep the 'death-eaters' at with an impenetrable force field of positivity.
- Look after your cash flow. Cash is KING - old one - but yes - so try - bartering is hip, trade exchanges to equal value - acceptable - but nothing is quite as empowering as a positive cash flow experience. It's amazing what a difference it can and does make to some - and if you're one of those people who need a good buffer of cash flow to help you feel safe and supported - then do that for yourself.
- Don't enter into any agreements, partnerships or contracts that don't serve you and your business well from start to finish. Read the fine print, iron out all the questions and fur-boils right up front - because having a problem half way through the contractual period will not serve you or the other party(ies) very well! Invest in the energy up front and do it properly - and you won't be sorry. Get legal support if necessary - penny wise pound foolish as they say in the classics - don't be that person!
- Be honest with your customers and fan base from the word go. Transparency is key. Authenticity is a new world that requires mutual trust and respect and if you're locked out once - you'll never really get a chance to walk through an open door again.
- Tell your story and do so consistently. Take your customers along for the ride - everyone is a voyeur and really if you're honest with yourself reality sells.
- Don't be shy! Don't be reticent and don't be down in the dumps... And if you are prone to any of these dispositions and running a public facing business - make sure you have a front lady or man - because if there's one thing I know for sure - when you running your own business you can't have a duvet day because you're feeling blue or down....it just doesn't bode well to growing a public following and engaging with your consumer on a consistent basis.
- Not everyone's your customer. Who is your real bulls eye target audience? If you don't know - how are they going to know about you? Find your tribe. Study them. Spend time with them. Help them and grow with them. Marketing to everyone is like pouring coloured water into the sea and expecting to see the body of water moving across the ocean 10 minutes later - you and I both know we won't - so why do we engage with 'spray and pray' tactics in our communication strategy? Really - it's a waste of time - don't do it!
- Location, location, location. Is vital. It's vital to know who your customer is - so you can position your location accordingly. Don't position your business and expect the customer to come to you - out of their way - they won't do that consistently and you'll be left having to close your doors at the end of the day. Secondly - when you are in the right location - make sure you become an integral part of that community - go to local events, promote your business at local clubs, community halls, libraries. Do co-operative marketing deals - where you join up with a local hero in support of their offering. Community is your strength - grow your community from day one.
We could go on and on - our learnings were deep in 2016 - but we'd be writing a book and not a blog - so we're going to leave you with one last thought...It's awesome to say that tough times help one grow and stretch - it sounds real deep and meaningful. The thing is - if that's all you do - say it - then it means nothing - one has to take action and change from one's learnings. Here's to a new year of ACTION and implementation. Here's to a NEW YEAR not an old one repacked under a new name.