You love what you do. At some point, you took the final step into self-employment. Your work is your passion and you love sharing it with others. Working for yourself is easy right?
Not quite. We both know that running a small business is bloody hard. We might be good at what we do, but we don’t always have the skills to handle technology issues, complete admin tasks and market the business in the way it deserves.
Oh, I’m sorry. This is a business site. I forgot the rules there for a second. So, no sex. How about religion?
No politics either?
It can be tough as a business owner, when the world tries to force you into following a set of rules. Many people will advise you to take the safe route. Don’t express a strong opinion, you might alienate a potential customer. But passion can be strong, staying quiet frustrating.
Mark Stredwick is most definitely crazy about craft beer. Sixteen years abroad presented an opportunity to explore the industry on an international scale; including work as a guide with a brewery tour company in Australia. His return to the region happily coincided with a boom in local micro-breweries – and Brewtown Tours was born. As a female beer drinker, I may be one of a growing number of people converting to the cause, but Mark’s enthusiasm would persuade even a determined beer cynic.
When Mark Wilson moved to Orleans, France, to help a friend he had no idea that it was the end of a fifteen year career in business finance. Returning to the UK 2 years ago, Mark founded Lion Fitness and launched his new Personal Training & Fitness studio last September. Driven by a desire to see people take better control of their health he is determined to see Lion Fitness continue to thrive.
In January I met with Mark to have a chat about his work at Lion Fitness and the values that keep him turning up every day..
As business owners we have all heard the term know, like, trust in reference to creating good working relationships with potential and ongoing clients. It’s easy to see where these principles apply in face to face networking, but how can you build on this useful tool with your online and written content?
Catherine admits to struggling with her CSE’s at her secondary school in Blackburn. Her favourite subjects – Home Ec and Environmental Science – got her through the school years and onto a catering course at her local Technical College. From here she built a career as a chef, working with reputable establishments like the Gatwick Hilton. She describes herself as someone who learnt practically rather than academically, a style perfectly suited to the catering industry.
Brand is a term that we hear a lot as business owners. Marketing experts regularly tell us how important brand building is. As a writer I focus on the way language impacts your ability to attract paying clients. So in this context, the term brand relates to the perception created through the use of language.
Do you know what your brand stands for and how you make your ideal clients feel? Founder of Intuit and expert marketeer Scott Cook insists that it’s no longer as simple as telling people how they should feel. It is what they are telling each other that matters. In other words – show them what you do and why, and they will tell you – and each other – how that makes them feel. That is where the real truth about your brand lies.
A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.
As a relatively new business owner, ( first birthday last month – yay!) I still earn most of my contracts through face to face networking. It is time consuming and sometimes exhausting – extending my time spent ‘at work’ by at least a couple of hours either side of the day. Costs can range from a Pay As You Feel arrangement to hundreds of pounds a quarter.
It’s easy to adopt the scatter gun approach in the early days. This works for some, many successful business owners attend a number of different networking groups on a regular basis. But with some groups requiring a large joining fee and regular monthly payments this can be an expensive marketing plan. I quickly made the decision to join one group where I could invest my time in attending meetings and getting to know other members. This involved a lot of initial research to make sure that my final decision was the correct one, but once I had identified the right group for me I made a clear commitment. I still accept invitations to visit others as a guest and drop in and out of smaller, social networking groups. But I never let these get in the way of my ‘Alpha’ choice. Attending just one main group means that I can stay focused, build strong working relationships and it doesn’t eat into my time for client work.
So how do you know that you have found the right networking group?
In exactly two weeks I celebrate my 41st birthday. I’ve always had a bit of a thing for birthdays. They act as a perfect excuse for some of my favourite things – like good company, great food and lots of silliness.
My 33rd birthday was a very different affair. Friends gathered at our home and there were lots of thoughtful gifts, kind remarks and hugs that lasted slightly longer than normal. We all smiled, laughed and celebrated but there was a tangible uncertainty hanging in the air – the proverbial elephant in the room.
We never met. I have no idea whether you enjoyed blowing out the candles on your cake or hated birthdays with a passion. You may have been a husband, father, brother or uncle. Perhaps you spent your time walking in the Scottish highlands. Maybe you loved nothing more than a night in front of the telly with a glass of wine. It’s quite odd, sharing a close and unbreakable bond with a total stranger.
I have a lot to thank you for.