Some days we all need a really good kick up the backside to wake us up.
Sales are flat, or even down on last year, but the marketplace is tough; the weather is awful; it’s another short week with a bank holiday weekend. You are plodding along, focussed on whatever it is you are doing and things just start to slide a little. In the back of your mind you know it’s not right, that you can do something, but you don’t know what. Then something hits you and suddenly you are motivated and motoring again. My ‘kick up the ass’ moment came recently.
The business was doing OK, everyone (including me) was working hard doing things, but the business didn’t seem to be going anywhere and I was just accepting it. Then I suddenly realised that there are 30 million printers in the UK and we sell supplies for every single one of them. That was my eureka moment, my realisation that there is an enormous market to aim for and we should take a much broader view of our route to marketing our product, but also our brand, our ethos if you like.
If your own revelation isn’t so forthcoming when you find yourself in a rut, then try investing in a mentor. An objective opinion is always good and research by the Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative suggests that 70% of small businesses that receive mentoring survive for five years or more (that’s double the rate compared to non-mentored entrepreneurs), and are 20% more likely to grow.
Choose someone with plenty of experience in different types of business and roles; someone, above all, who you can respect and work with. You’ll be bearing your soul to this person so it’s important to trust them too.
· Mentorsme.co.uk - over 10,000 business mentors offering face-to-face and online support.
· Horsesmouth - a social network for informal mentoring
· Management & Leadership Network - a free social network / hub / best practice group for proactive managers and leaders in Northern Ireland.
· The Rockstar Group has over 60 mentors in 25 industry sectors.
· Your local Chamber of Commerce can probably suggest mentors too.
In addition there are a host of sites offering advice and resources to SMEs, but that’s a topic for a blog in itself.
Once I realised that I was drifting, it was important to open my mind. By being receptive to new stimuli I was able to get my own creative juices really flowing. It may take weeks or even months for the idea to come to you, and very often it will come from well outside your comfort zone, but be ready for it and grab it when it does come along.
Do you remember the Katie Melua song “There are 9 million bicycles in Beijing”? Well my version is “There are 30 million printers in the UK” and I’m going to sell printer supplies to every single one of them!
By the way, there is a prize for anyone who can fill in the rest of the lyrics to my version of the song. Comment below!