Mon Jan 29 2018
Hopefully you’ve got the gist of James by now. Get a mentor, don’t lose sight of where you’ve come from and write things down! Don’t be sad that this is the last instalment; we’ve added a couple of bonus tips to the end of this post and there’ll be more from James because we’ve grown quite attached to him, too.
Keep your eyes peeled @BcardBusiness
Over to you, James…
People are very happy to give you advice; but the only advice that matters comes from people with real-world experience that’s relevant to your situation. Filter out all the irrelevant or biased comments. If you listen to everyone, especially those who have no idea or have never done it, you’ll grind to a halt. It’s great to throw ideas around with some pals over a beer, but don't, for goodness sake, ever forget that it’s your idea, your future and your passion.
My lovely beautiful girlfriend recently bought a ticket for this very inspiring man who claimed to be some kind of business guru. Now, I have to admit, he was charismatic (even more than me) – but when I did a bit of digging, I discovered that he had in fact failed at pretty much everything he’d tried, apart from telling others how to do it.
Not really that helpful in the real world. Motivation is one thing, but actual experience from someone who has some success under their belt is another.
There are lots of real world, real entrepreneurs out there giving back to the community – our friends here at Barclaycard know a lot of them and work with the best. Look up start up conferences, accelerator programmes and, if you’re young, I would highly recommend The Prince’s Trust, who I work with on business mentoring programs - they are fantastic.
Of course your family love you and they want you to be successful (well, mine do anyway!). But they also want to keep you safe – and that involves a lot of negatives. Don’t risk it, you’ve got a good job, you’ve got rent and bills to pay, think about the kids…
Some of us may have the luxury of no worries and no commitments – but if the only people who followed their dreams and started their own companies were worry- and commitment-free, there would be a lot fewer new businesses and a lot less innovation.
Some of the people telling you not to do it are honestly worried about you – my mum told me I was mad to stop working for someone else and start working for myself, and I know that was real worry.
But a lot of the people telling you why you shouldn’t make the jump are telling you their own reasons, the ones which help them sleep at night in their safe jobs. The truth? They’re afraid. They don’t have the guts, and they use the ‘buts’ as an excuse – “I’d like to start my own company, but…”
NO is like BUT – it’s a very negative word. It stops us doing things. It’s about being scared. We don't ask people who we fancy out, we don't ask our boss for a pay rise and we don't tell people our dreams in case they say it’s a terrible idea.
If we all had a little more courage, and said YES more, we could be in a relationship with that person we like, have a better paid job and be living our dream – or at least be working towards it.
In business, ‘yes’ is a very, very important word. Let me emphasise that: VERY. It’s the life-changing word.
Just imagine for a minute if I promised you that the next five people you speak to are going to say ‘yes’ to whatever you ask them. Who would the five people you’d call be? Why? And how would their ‘yes’ help you out?
In life, the truth is you can’t guarantee 100% success. But if you don’t try, then you can guarantee 100% failure. So maybe to get five people to say ‘yes’, you have to call 500 people. But you will get there in the end.
OK, the more people you approach, the more likely you are to hear the word ‘no’. But you know what? No changes nothing. Your idea is no worse; in fact, often a ‘no’ allows you to ask why, which helps you improve your idea or your pitch for it, which brings you closer to ‘yes’. And if someone says ‘no’, you’re still the same smart, motivated and determined person you were before. Just keep at it.
I’ve been known to turn down good, well-paid jobs if I'm really not a fan of the person running the business. Same goes for potential employees: if there’s something about an applicant I don’t like, I send them to my competitors – let them be their problem.
After all, what’s the point of working for myself if I can’t surround myself with great people who I like working with?
All joking aside, this is actually one of the great perks of running your own business, so enjoy it. Hire amazing, talented people and encourage them to be awesome; let them do their jobs, let them innovate, let them help you and let them grow as your companies grow.
What you need are people who say ‘yes’ – not ‘yes men’ who always agree with you, but people who don’t let ‘no’ and ‘but’ stop them finding a route forwards.
They will buy houses, have families and, at some point, they will leave you and move on to their next thing. But that’s not betrayal, it’s not a judgement on you – it’s all part of the growing process, and you will always be a big part of their lives. Personally, I enjoy this; my team are like my family.
I don't need any staff right now. But whenever I meet someone who is awesome at what they do, passionate and driven and can help me and my team achieve our goals, I switch to hiring mode.
Good people are good people. Hire them when you find them. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes now and then: it only takes a couple of months before you figure out if someone is actually right or wrong for the job, your company and you – and if they aren’t, then you haven’t really lost that much.
If they are right, though, then you’ll soon know. Like I said above, that’s the time to give them what they need to grow.
So if you are awesome at something, passionate and driven, and you can help my company grow, here’s my email - firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is part of our Mindset & Planning series – content dedicated to practical advice for SMEs when it comes to getting in the right mindset for business growth. Other articles in this series include:
7 reasons why cash flow is more important than profit
SMEs: Here’s how to create more time (and how to use it)
11 great podcasts on productivity
Things To Consider Before Starting A Business - Part 1
Things To Consider Before Starting A Business - Part 2