7 Graces Community blogger Sue Ellam shares valuable lessons she learned when setting up her own company, and how every business start-up has a life of its own.
When I first had the idea for my own business I was extremely naïve as to what it would entail to get it up and running. I thought it was just a case of getting the business registered, a bank account opened, a website built and off we’d go! Maybe this works for some people, but I can tell you that it didn’t work that way for me at all – and thank heaven it didn’t. I just wasn’t prepared at that early stage in the game, and it could have turned into an overwhelming experience if everything had gone according to my original ideas.
I have a favourite saying – ‘You can’t put a cake in the oven and expect it to be baked in 10 minutes’. I found this to be very true when it came to my business, and consequently have spent valuable time in preparation while I wait for my particular cake to finish baking. Now, in hindsight, I can recognise the lessons I learned during the baking process. Today, I’d like to share them with you.
Lesson 1: Work the right way, at the right time, with the right people
It is really important to have the right people with the right skill-sets – and more importantly mind-set – working with you. The fact they are friends and family just isn’t enough. Also, your business relationships have to be built on collaboration, not competition. It is crucial that every person is absolutely clear as to their function within the business and nothing is left to the imagination, assumptions or individual interpretation. I recommend that you get together and discuss job descriptions and areas of responsibility, and that these be put into writing at the very beginning, so that they can be referred to at a later date if necessary. It is often the lack of these that create the problems and cause any rifts.
If you are the originator of the business idea, you’ll need to think seriously about whether you are prepared to make sacrifices in order to incorporate other people’s ideas in the start-up phase, or whether your vision is so strong that you need to start it up yourself, and invite others to join you after the business has formed. There is a real emotional attachment to the birthing of a business. Are you prepared for the possibility of someone criticising your new-born, telling you it’s not perfect and suggesting changes? If that idea fills you with horror, you are probably better off not having a business partner, but getting your support from knowledgeable consultants and employees instead.
If you are considering going into business to help promote someone else’s idea, then you need to ask yourself if this is the right move for you. You might feel like you are living in their shadow while the business is being planned during the start-up phase. Are you prepared to be patient until the business launches and the areas of responsibility become more equal so you can come into your own? If you know that you wouldn’t be comfortable with a backseat role in the early stages, you might consider it best to work with them in a consultancy role, or not at all.
Lesson 2: Go with the flow
‘Going with the flow’ doesn’t mean sitting back and doing nothing. It means that you do the necessary work, but you don’t get too fixated on the end result. When we try to control things too much, it brings added stress into the equation. When we are inflexible and things don’t work out the way we planned, it can become a major incident instead of just the bend in the road. But if you are flexible and leave some room for manoeuvre, things could work out even better than you imagined. If you have a solid business idea and are delivering something that is ethical and serves people, your business will survive the bumps and bruises that happen along the way.
Lesson 3: Deadlines don’t always work
Only set deadlines when you have confidence that you can meet them. Don’t base them on someone else’s promises, unless that person has proved to be extremely reliable. This is a lesson I learned the hard way! It is extremely embarrassing and puts you in an unprofessional light to have to keep back-tracking because you have been let down by a third party. And don’t forget that it’s not only other people that affect deadlines; there are many other things that factor into the equation. For example, I am sure the recent extreme weather conditions in many parts of the world have had a big impact on deadlines for many businesses.
There is also the internal process of deadlines to consider: the added stress and pressure we put upon ourselves when we know people are waiting for something that we have promised to deliver. Set personal deadlines by all means, in order to keep focussed and on track, but avoid announcing them to the world unless you are pretty confident you can meet them.
Lesson 4: Be Prepared
What’s true today might not be true tomorrow. Things change, people change and time moves on! Most importantly you change, and your vision for your business might change too. Don’t be afraid to start over if that’s what feels right. For example, if you stop feeling the passion for your business in its current form and you know your heart isn’t engaged, your business will be unlikely to succeed, as you will come to resent the time you are spending on it. Eventually, it will become nothing but a chore, and you will transmit that energy to your potential customers.
Learn everything you need to learn about how to run and market your business, AND make sure to share relevant information with the other members of your team. That way, everything will run smoothly when you are ill or take time off. You might have started the business but, at the end of the day, nobody should be indispensable – not even you.
Lesson 5: Appreciate the advantage of delays
In businesses that are built on fear and scarcity, delays could easily make you yesterday’s news. But in new paradigm thinking, delays are viewed in an entirely different way. Often referred to as ‘Divine Timing’, delays come from a higher network of support that makes the sun shine on many a rainy day. Seeing things like this gives you confidence that all is not lost, and that you just need to ‘go with the flow’ and ‘keep on keeping on’ and you will get there in the end.
A favourite saying in my family is ‘Act in haste, repent at leisure’. Delays give you time to think (unless you choose to run around like a headless chicken). Use the time you have been given, and consider it a gift that allows you to reconsider your choices, and maybe even make a few improvements. I’m a great believer in everything happens for a reason and there are no mistakes. Every experience is useful as long as we learn from it.
I think running a business is a bit like having a child: if you control them too much you will break their spirit. Let your business breathe and find its own way, with just a light touch on the reins so it is heading in more or less the right direction. Open yourself up to the surprises and miracles that can happen when you let go and let outside forces play a role.
Also, as with a child, once your business is launched into the world it becomes more than just yours. There are outside influences at play. Other people’s input can help catapult your business into areas you wouldn’t even have considered. It’s almost like it develops a life of its own, independent of you. It decides who, what and where – and you, like a proud parent, can go along for the ride.
I would be delighted to hear about your experiences of starting a business, and what challenges and lessons you faced along the way. Please make use of the comments box below.
11th March 2014
Sue Ellam is fascinated by the power of mind over matter and was initially guided towards spiritual healing and medium-ship. She is a professionally trained graphologist of 21 years standing and has travelled extensively using this skill, as well as that of tarot reading, participating in many festivals worldwide. Currently she is developing Soulfully Connecting which is a global website dedicated to the healing of mind, body, soul and planet. Her vision is to connect like-minded individuals around the world through the sharing of knowledge, providing a platform so that the change-makers can be seen, appreciated and supported.
Sue is a graduate of the 7 Graces Foundations of Ethical Marketing course.
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Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:
The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, by Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues
Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.
Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com
The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.
LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.
Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.
(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)