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 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.
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So 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 all of this. 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 They had learned from an out of date ‘course’ what should happen but not what actually happens.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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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
Kevin Arrow is the CEO of the Online Visibility Academy where ethical entrepreneurs can train in digital marketing skills
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