I have spent a lot of time on social media over the past few years and am often amazed at how many people ask for advice from the masses on the most fundamental aspects of their business. The problem with asking for advice on an open forum on subjects like – what do I call my business, what colour should my website be and which logo should I use, is that it can appear that you either don’t have a strong connection to your own business, or you can’t or don’t want to pay a professional to help you.
I’m not for one moment suggesting that you don’t get advice on these things if you genuinely can’t make up your mind – not everyone is born with the decisive gene, and often an outside opinion can be invaluable. However, I think people need to be discerning as to where they ask for this advice. If you can’t afford to employ a professional, ask your questions in a safe and suitable environment of people who understand your predicament and can give relevant, solid and practical advice.
Are you emotionally connected?
When you get any advice always make sure you run it past your emotional sensors – does it connect with you, does it truly reflect your business? When I was starting my business I didn’t have a clue about the logo. I let professionals have a go at presenting me with options, but the results just didn’t feel right. They hadn’t captured the essence of my business, but rather tried to fit my business into their own format. They seemed unable to think outside of the box, put themselves in my shoes and relate to my business. I am fortunate to have a brother who is an artist and extremely creative, so I asked him if he could come up with something for me. He sent me through his first idea and it had such an impact on me that I burst into tears. My logo was born!
Do you identify with your business?
I think it’s very important to completely identify yourself with your business and think of it as an extension of yourself, and not as a separate entity. For example, if we have a reputation for not being reliable in our personal lives, why would people think we were going to be any different in our professional lives? By living true to our standards, and by being authentic, people will know who they are dealing with, and can make the choice whether they want to do business with us or not. It is also really important to remember that not everyone will like us, resonate with us, or want to do business with us. Don’t let rejection take you off course. For every rejection you could have two acceptances if you just keep going. So, do what you do with passion, shine your light brightly and other passionate and shining people will find you.
Do you feel confident?
Do you exude confidence in your day to day business dealings, or are you tentative? Confidence comes from knowing yourself, your business and how best to serve people. However qualified you are, if you are tentative you can come across as apologetic, and that doesn’t inspire people to buy from you or invest in you.
Some years ago I remember watching a famous actress being interviewed – I can’t honestly remember which one. She was asked how she remained so confident – she admitted that it hadn’t always been that way, but that she had acted confident until it became the truth.
If we have honed our skills and learned our subject, then why shouldn’t we be confident in putting ourselves and our businesses out into the world? It really all boils down to our mind set and self-belief.
Do you fear failure?
Fear of failure comes in many forms. Fear of losing face and fear of losing money are two of the major ones, but it doesn’t really matter which one is your trigger – it all boils down to fear, and fear causes stagnation and loss of impetus. I am a great believer in ‘like attracts like’. As soon as fear enters the equation and creeps into your business, then a downward spiral has to follow. Business is a mixture of good sense and vision, and it is hampered by fear.
Many years ago I worked for a major construction company, which doesn’t exist anymore. The reason it failed was that the visionaries in the company were squeezed out because of the economic climate, and fear had crept in. Accountants were put into the top positions instead, and they counted every penny in and every penny out. The problem was that they weren’t programmed to take risks of any sort, so there was no forward movement and the business died a death. Both the visionaries and the accountants were necessary to run the company – one without the other just didn’t work.
Are you desperate?
Desperation is an extension of fear and purely a way in how it presents itself. Desperation causes people to run round in circles grabbing at all opportunities, whether they are suitable ones or not. It affects our judgement and ability to think rationally. It manifests the symptoms of a panic attack, even if it’s not visible on the surface.
Desperation ties us up in knots and throws out a chaotic energy which transmits itself to potential clients. If we get to that place, or are on the road there, then we need to ask ourselves some serious questions.
- Do we still love doing what we are doing, or is it a chore we do with others in mind?
- When did the tide turn and desperation make an appearance?
- Is our desperation solely based on stories we hear from the media and other people?
- What have we started to do differently now that fear has taken hold?
- Is it time to let go because you have a product or service that is no longer required?
- What is the worst that can happen?
When we have found the honest answers to those questions we can take action. It’s imperative that we take responsibility for what has happened and for making the changes, as blaming outside forces for our predicament puts us into a state of powerlessness and apathy. We have no hope of recovery when we are in that state of mind.
Listen to Feedback
It’s really important to listen to feedback with an open mind, even if it isn’t particularly complimentary. If you get even a slight niggle of resonance, that the person might have a point, don’t let your ego get in the way and decide to ignore it. That person could have the potential of saving you from a lot of future heartache.
For instance, if someone tells you that you don’t seem to have any confidence in the direction of your business, sit with it for a while. If it doesn’t resonate with you and you know exactly where your business is heading, ask yourself what gave the person that impression? Is there a relationship you have, either business or personal, and you aren’t sure where it’s heading? If this was on your mind at the time, then your uncertain energy could have leaked into the wording you used regarding your business, and that lead to the false impression.
Positive feedback is wonderful to receive, but it is often the less than positive feedback which helps us to grow in the right direction.
I believe that we should stay in constant connection with our business on an emotional level. I think that your relationship with your business resembles a marriage. If you don’t always connect with your partner on an emotional level, then you are in danger of becoming distant and aloof. Your partner will no longer feel safe being vulnerable with you, because they no longer feel the close connection, and you end up not knowing them that well anymore. They might even start keeping things from you intentionally because they don’t think you care anymore.
Likewise, if you lose touch with your business then it is likely to surprise you one day, and it isn’t necessarily going to be a pleasant surprise.
I recollect a television programme that I saw many years ago – it was about a business that made high quality chocolates that had got into financial problems. They made lavender chocolates – that was their only flavour and they had gained a reputation for excellence. This reputation had brought them great success. However, their sales had started to decrease and they asked for advice on what to do next. The advice was to add different flavours to their repertoire, so they would be competitive in a changing market. An easy choice you would think, but the stance of the company was that they saw no need to change because lavender chocolates were their trademark. The owners of the business had lost touch with what was happening – if they had remained emotionally connected they would have seen the writing on the wall. The energy that emanated from them at that time was resistance. They weren’t prepared to make the changes necessary for their business to survive in a changing world. I don’t know how the story ended, but I hope that they saw the light.
Has a change of energy affected your business or the business of someone you know?
Sue is the Founder of Soulfully Connecting. The idea behind Soulfully Connecting is to demonstrate that there are other ways of living which can heal the earth, the animal kingdom and ourselves. She is passionate about people having freedom of choice, which is only possible when they know about all the options