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The story of me and The Business Success Dojo

The Beginning Of My Business Experience

Starting out in business in 2002 was a challenge. It all sounds so simple; you decide what you want to offer as a business and hey presto off

Kevin Arrow The Early Years In Business
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you go you have instant success…Or do you? Being a small business owner or entrepreneur opens you up to a whole world of decisions and responsibilities that often most people are just not ready for. I remember when I started I was so excited. I was out there ready for the work to flow in. I had my phone, my fax machine (remember those) where all the important orders would come in, I was ready. However, after a week of silence, I very quickly realised that people were not going to come rushing to me just because I had made the bold statement of being open for business.

Come on where are the clients?

Problem number 1 for me was ‘where do I get clients from‘. Even now this is the biggest question Sarah and I get asked. Fortunately, we now have the experience and skills to help make this happen, however, back in 2002 I had no idea at all.  So like most people you look for help, where do you turn? friends? family? Wait a minute the Government will help! Of course!  They're encouraging people to go out there and start a business! So off I went and made an appointment to see a ‘government authorised' local business advice service.

Well, what an experience that was!  Being as green as I was back then I sucked up every word that they said. I totally believed that they had the experience and knowledge to make me a success overnight. I did zero research. Without even knowing the person, I just trusted the government agency that was willing to help.

Unfortunately, their advice didn't work out for me. They had no real idea of the business I was in nor did they know how to reach the type of clients I was looking for. They gave me a great big list of things to do that cost me a whole load of money with no return  Looking back I don't blame them, as I found out they were middle managers that had never actually experienced real-life business and the issues they face. They had learned from an out of date ‘course' what should happen but not what actually happens. I felt very alone.

Business Doesn't Have to be Isolating

Problem number 2, which was really apparent after this experience, was that I needed to be around business owners and have access to resources that would help me. The business owners had to be more established ones that had been through the startup phase and knew the real-life version of business, not just the textbook version. I also wanted to have support when I needed it, access to those skills that I either didn't have or didn't want to learn, the most obvious one for this was the FSB (Federation of small businesses) which is still running now. At the time it was a massive help and a big confidence booster for me. I also was able to dip my toe into the world of networking which lead me to meeting some of the business owners that were out there running their business and happily sharing their experiences.

Getting Through Those First Few Years

The first couple of years was really tough, I get why most startups fail it's not through lack of desire or skill but lack of resources, knowing where to turn for

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advice and guidance, whose advice to take. Of course, things are easier now with the internet full of blog posts and resources. Search engines are a business owner's friend and can be used very easily to check out the advice being given out. They're also a great way of finding other business owners and groups to help you through the early years and onwards.

Skipping Through To 2014

Business did become easier, Sarah joined me in our business ventures (that's another story ) and we have worked together for many years now. When Sarah joined the business she brought a whole new set of skills and resources to the business. The pressure was off and it was and still is a great partnership. We have over the years had coaches individually for business, for writing for self-development amongst other things. These were all essential to our business continuing to thrive. For me there was one thing missing which was that safe space that could look at our business from outside of it rather than in it or in a paid for capacity so I contacted 4 people in business that I had got to know and I set up the very first Business Success Dojo with the 5 of us meeting virtually every 3 weeks.

The Business Success Dojo

One big thing that I learned in all these years of business was that I needed a space that was safe to ask my questions, to have a room of people that were experienced in business or that had different viewpoints to myself because they had different experiences. The Dojo has been launched to help business owners do just this in 2 ways either via our regular face to face meetings which have a unique formula or via our mastermind groups which I have run for a number of years now privately.

By giving business owners (with varying degrees of time in business) these environments of safety and support they find it's much more fun being in business than going it alone. heir confidence grows and their business endeavours have a much higher chance of succeeding.

If the Dojo has got you interested in levelling up your business and surrounding yourself with people dedicated to helping and growing then feel free to contact me and let's see how this can work for you and the group.

To your Success

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  • I remember fax machines Kevin, and the way the paper curled up when printing off an incoming fax. Ah! The excitement.

    I also remember the early days of setting up my business.

    Believing my passion, excitement and having a website, business cards, letter headed paper and compliments slips were all I needed. I’d built it so they’d come right?

    I also went for help from government funded business advisors. There I was with my folder, with dividers and my willingness to learn how to make this business stuff work.

    For the advisor to take one look at my folder and tell me they thought I had it sussed already and I was doing fine.

    Thank goodness I didn’t give up and got the help I needed.

    • it’s funny how we rely on the Gov to help us yet often they are not the best source of the info that we need.

  • I went to a government funded business advisor, too. He knew less than I did. Scary!
    Apart from you and Sarah, Kevin, the place I’ve had the best advice from was my local WiRE (Women in Rural Enterprise) group.
    Glad I found this blog. Looking forward to reading more!

    • They really are not that helpful Shan yet when you start out it ‘s always the problem of where do you go? WIRE sounds like a great organisation

  • Brings back fond (and challenging) memories of when I started up over 30 years ago. I was completely clueless and found so much conflicting and poor advice out there!

    One thing I found incredibly powerful (and still do) is having a mastermind group of people who you can talk to openly to get advice or just to talk about the challenges. As you rightly say business can be very isolating at times. Mastermind groups are totally invaluable in my opinion!

    • HI Steve, thanks for commenting, there still is conflicting and poor advice out there but I think we are more equipped these days to filter it out faster. Of course I agree mastermind groups are awesome and I know there is fear around them but the right group can be transformational in many ways.

  • yes absolutely, a mastermind group can be incredibly powerful if you have like-minded people at similar stages and similar values.

    • Thank your Sherry, it’s interesting to me how so many established business owners i know have been or are involved in a mastermind group

  • I went through exactly the same process when I started out way back in 1998, but I never got anywhere near the Chaber of commerce, you see I live right on the border between Worcestershire and the West Midlands. In the first instance i went to see the Worcestershire Chamber, they told me I had to go to see the Wests Mids chamber, so off I trotted to be told i had to go to see the Worcestershire chamber. So i told them both to stuff it and did my own thing, 29 years later i’m still here 🙂 but the biggest help has been my masterming group which has really helped me progress over the last five years by holding my feet to the fire for decisions I make

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