T.A.B #11 Seven Truths – Essential Business Lessons I’ve Discovered From My Guests So Far.
Welcome to “The Truth About Business”, where it’s my mission to seek out real-life business champions to explore and share their challenges, setbacks, failures and triumphs to serve as inspiration, motivation and help other like-minded business people and entrepreneurs like us to fast track our own success…
This episode is a summary of the seven key “truths” that I’ve collected from spending countless hours over the last ten weeks talking with and listening to inspirational business champions.
These brilliant entrepreneurs all started from scratch and, against the massive odds that are stacked against them, have gone on to build fantastic businesses of all shapes and sizes.
For those of you who are thinking of starting out in business, I hope that this serves as useful information that may better prepare you for what’s to come.
And for those already in business, I would like to think that there are some useful reminders of important fundamentals that we could all do with a refresher on every now and again.
I’d like to take a moment to say a huge “Thank you” to all of the guests who have featured on the show so far.
It’s been a truly humbling experience and I will be forever grateful that you have all taken time out to talk business with me and share your experiences so honestly!
So, without further ado, let’s get in to my seven business truths that I’ve discovered from my interviews with nine inspirational entrepreneurs – and I’ve saved what I feel is the most crucial, until last!
Click the play button below to stream the episode live and get ready for “The Truth About Business“…
Links To All Interviews So Far:
Lee Waterhouse of WDA Marketing – https://nxtgenbusinesscoaching.com/lee-waterhouse/
Mark Averill of ‘AV IT Media – https://nxtgenbusinesscoaching.com/mark-averill/
Yvonne Gorman of Essential Print Services – https://nxtgenbusinesscoaching.com/yvonne-gorman/
Sarah Moore of Juggling Octopus – https://nxtgenbusinesscoaching.com/sarah-moore/
Estelle Read of beee – https://nxtgenbusinesscoaching.com/estelle-read/
Tamsin Wheatcroft of Tamsin Wheatcroft Property & Financial Services Recruitment – https://nxtgenbusinesscoaching.com/tamsin-wheatcroft/
Tina Clough of Poppy PR – https://nxtgenbusinesscoaching.com/tina-clough/
Chloe Maudsley of Derbyshire Institute of Sport – https://nxtgenbusinesscoaching.com/chloe-maudsley/
Owen Conti of Code 56 – https://nxtgenbusinesscoaching.com/owen-conti/
Ed Hollands of Driven Media – https://nxtgenbusinesscoaching.com/ed-hollands/
Connect With Me:
My LinkedIn: @BenjaminBrain
My Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
My Instagram: @Benjamin_Brain_Podcast
My Facebook: @TheTruthAboutBusiness
My Twitter: @TruthAboutBizz
[01:50] Business Truth One – Choose Passion Over Pennies
[05:54] Business Truth Two – Start Now
[09:09] Business Truth Three – Fire Bullets First
[11:45] Business Truth Four – Be Prepared To Make Sacrifices
[15:40] Business Truth Five – Believe In Yourself
[18:30] Business Truth Six – Adopt A “Can Do” Mindset
[21:27] Business Truth Seven – Take Positive, Affirmative Action
[24:11] My challenge to you – yes YOU!
Full Blog Post:
Truth Number One – Passion Over Pennies
Perhaps the most challenging part of starting a business can be trying to think of a good idea.
For some entrepreneurs, the launch of their business is a natural progression of having already spent years in a particular industry.
After becoming competent enough in their craft and confident enough in themselves, they decide to branch out on their own.
However, not everyone follows that path.
For some entrepreneurs, you know you want to start a business but you just don’t have the right idea.
If this is you, there may be a tendency to look for ideas that generate an income, rather than a business idea that you’re truly passionate about.
My advice based on what I’ve learned from my interviews so far is to not fall in to that trap.
And it’s hard because it’s so tempting.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but almost every Youtube advert seems to be promoting some sort of course promising to get you rich quick by building a social media company and charging thousands of pounds to clients for doing almost no work.
These masters of influence are incredibly crafty with their sales message but here’s two home truths.
Number one. There’s no such thing as get rich quick when it comes to building a reputable business that lasts.
Sorry, but there’s just no shortcuts here.
Number two, and more to the point, if you’re not passionate about social media advertising – don’t do it.
You’re going to have to make a lot of sacrifices to be successful in business, which we’ll talk about later, and when the times get tough or when you just feel like downing tools, if you don’t have the passion, you’re not going to have that intrinsic motivation that is going to propel you through those barriers and keep going – which is often when the breakthroughs happen – and it’s when many who chose the income over the passion will simply give up.
Take for example Ed from Driven Media.
He was motivated from day one to be a business owner.
He wasn’t passionate about trucks, but he was passionate about business and marketing – which is what his company is all about.
Let’s even take the podcast.
It takes a lot of time, effort and late nights – plus I make zero income – to produce this podcast, but I love meeting new people, I love pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and I just love the subject of business.
Had I decided to start a podcast with the intention of making money but about a subject matter I was not particularly interested in – not only would that show in my enthusiasm and curiosity when talking to my guests – but I’d have given up a long time ago.
There have been many late, late Sunday nights/Monday mornings where my “comfort” brain has been telling me to go to bed – but the passion I have for this and the vision of where I can take it has kept me going.
Another great example is the story of Sylvester Stallone when he first made Rocky, which launched the start of an amazing Hollywood career.
He was broke when he wrote Rocky and studios were offering him hundreds of thousands for the script, but no-one would cast him as Rocky.
He would not budge on that one, rather large, caveat that if a studio was going to purchase the script, he would be the lead and it took him months to find a buyer.
At one point he even had to sell his dog (who he eventually bought back and actually features in the film – Butkus, was Sly’s actual dog) but he was so committed to his passion of being the lead role in the movie that he eventually took a lower price to be the main star – and look what happened.
How many of us would have given in to selling the script earlier for more money and how different a path would Stallone’s career have followed.
If you don’t know what you’re passionate about yet, try new things.
Try Lots of new things until you find something that you can really get excited about. When you do, you will find a way to generate income.
So, truth number one is go for passion over pennies which will serve you far better in the long term.
A quote from Colin White sums it up nicely…
“Chase your passions and money will come. Chase money and you may never find your passion.”
Truth Number Two – Start Now
Perhaps the most daunting thought of being your own boss and starting out in business is the thought of day one.
You’ve left your job and now you, your mortgage and your family relies on the income that you can generate and it’s 100% on you with no safety net.
What I’ve learned from my guests about being successful in business is that you will have to take risks.
But it’s not taking huge risks like some crazed daredevil with little or no thought put into the consequences.
It’s about taking calculated risks where, as Richard Branson says, you can protect the downside just in case things don’t go to plan.
The question is, how to do you protect the downside of leaving your job to start your own business?
Perhaps the best way is to have built a client base, a reputation and a phonebook before you ever have to even hand in your notice at your current place of employment.
Even if you don’t have the idea yet, you can still start on all three of those – today.
A common theme from most of my guests was that, at least in the early days, they were avid networkers.
Yvonne Gorman from Essential Print is an avid networker and is incredibly well-known and admired in Derby business circles. She is hugely involved in the Derby Hub networking group, is a long-time member of Marketing Derby, eventually becoming a board member and even now, she attributes a large chunk of new client businessS to people she has made a connection with whilst networking.
Mark from AV IT talks about how he would be networking several times a week but eventually, when he did branch out on his own, the contacts that he had met and the phonebook he had built was probably one of the most important things he had.
Owen from Code 56 had moved from America and knew nobody in the area.
He himself described how he’d be at the opening of an envelope to begin with but that was how he got his name out there and now he’s well known by all in the Derby business network.
The beauty of still being employed whilst you are formulating your business is that you have a steady income which means you can afford to go out there and provide your services for free.
The two major benefits of this are that it helps to work out exactly what your customers are looking for – using this period to trial and experiment with different ideas and services.
But it also allows you to build a great reputation in your sector and collect some valuable testimonials which are going to be crucial to winning customers as a new business.
Social proof, comments and reviews from clients, even if you have worked for free to get them, are worth their weight in gold when convincing new customers that they can put their trust in you to deliver the service you have promised.
The usual objections are “I’m already have a busy job, I have a family, I play my hobby twice a week etc. I don’t have the time to do all of that.”
We do have the time.
We all have the same time.
We just choose which activities to allocate our time too depending on what is most important to us.
It is the choices you make that are important. Not the time that is available.
And this really links back to the passion part.
If you can’t make the time to network and start building a client base now, whilst still in employment, I would suggest that you may be underestimating the time and sacrifices you are going to have to make to start a business – it’s a great test of how passionate you really are about becoming your own boss.
And a quote that sums up this point nicely is from Karen Lamb and it goes
“A year from now, you may wish you had started today”
So even if you have no idea of what your business will be, you now have no excuse not to start.
Truth Number Three – Fire “Bullets” First
This is a principle that is also echoed in the well-known business book, “Great By Choice” by world-renowned thought leader Jim Collins.
He, and my guests, talk about firing bullets, before shooting cannon balls.
And what this boils down to is testing your ideas or concepts before whole-heartedly launching into them.
When we have a business idea, our brains can trick ourselves into believing that it’s going to be the world’s best or most successful product or service and there is absolutely no way that it will fail.
It’s easy to get carried away and spend a whole load of money on creating a fancy website, making stunning business cards, maybe even signing a lease on an office space.
But then when it comes to actually finding paying customers, only then do you find that there is actually very little or no demand for the product or service you’re offering.
I’ve seen it happen.
And all of this could be avoided by firing bullets first.
So, if you’re thinking of starting a business, or even launching a new product line or service – think first, how can you invest a minimal amount of resources and time to first prove the concept, before you go all out and start firing cannon balls.
My own experiences lead me to believe that sometimes, the reason we don’t want to test the concept is because we’re afraid of failure, and we’re afraid that actually, it might not be a good idea – so the defence mechanism is to spend money on everything else – but all you’re doing is delaying the inevitable and making it a far more costly exercise than it has to be.
Better to fail fast, learn important lessons and make the necessary adjustments, than to let blind faith or fear of rejection lead you down a dark path.
Ed is a great example of this.
When the light bulb went off for his truck advertising business – the very next day he rang 20 hauliers to see if the idea had any merit to it.
All he needed was a phone – nothing else.
Then there’s Tina from Poppy PR.
She started with an incredibly basic business card and a very simple website that she didn’t even pay for.
That was all she needed because actually what would make or break her business was going out there, meeting potential clients and securing contracts.
Everything else is secondary to that.
Estelle knew there was a demand for her service because she was already providing a similar type of service whilst in employment.
She used her evenings and spare time to build a client base so by the time it came for her to start on her own, wondering if there was a customer base was not even a consideration.
So, truth number three is to fire bullets, before shooting
cannonballs to make sure there is a demand for the service or product that you
are going to provide before investing huge amounts of time, resources and money
that you will never get back.
Truth Number Four – Be Prepared To Make Sacrifices.
You’re going to have to make sacrifices.
Being an estate agent, I’ve watched my fair share of Kevin McCloud’s Grand Designs.
And there are a few key similarities that lie in building outstanding properties and building a business.
The three things you can guarantee in every single episode is that the project is going to:
1) take far more time than they had scheduled for.
2) It’s going to cost way over what they budgeted for
3) No matter how meticulous the planning process is – there are going to be problems that nobody could have possibly accounted for.
It would be naive to start a business thinking that life will continue the way it did in your 9-5 because for almost all of my guests that was not the case, and for many, even years later, it still isn’t.
This isn’t meant to deter you.
None of my guests so far would change a thing about where they are in business and how amazing it is, as there are many upsides too.
However, I think it is important to have the correct expectations of what’s to come.
The first sacrifice is time.
It’s something we’ve already mentioned and has been a common theme with my guests.
Sarah Moore at Juggling Octopus had no idea of the time commitment her business would take.
The whole reason she started out was to spend more time with family and friends, but that quickly fell by the wayside and is something she is still working on to this day!
Then there’s income.
In most instances you may have to prepare and readjust your lifestyle to be able to cope with a lower income as your grow the business.
Some might recommend having 6 months to a year’s worth of living expenses stashed away just to tide you over whilst the business grows.
But then to counter that, some of my guests were successful because they had no option but to make the business work and having savings to keep them comfortable may have affected their approach – it does, you could argue, make a difference to your levels of determination when all of your bridges are totally burned.
And when we look at Ed’s story, despite being on Dragon’ Den with his business early on, despite being a key-note speaker and appearing in interviews with many well-known business publications, it still took him two full years before he was able to take a pay cheque from his business.
Another sacrifice which is perhaps one of the hardest is family and friends.
Holidays were almost non-existent for most of my guests for many, many months after starting out on their own.
This wasn’t just because they didn’t feel they had the time, but also in the beginning stages, it feels like if you’re not there for even a day, you conjure up visions of the business imploding and everything going wrong.
It’s like leaving a new born baby for the first time. That’s what your business becomes.
A number of my guests said that with hindsight, they would have spent a bit more time away from the business to rejuvenate and recharge. But hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Mark spoke quite candidly in his interview about the fact that he’d lost touch with close friends because whilst they were going to the football and meeting at the pub, he was putting every hour into building his business – and not everybody is going to understand that, or appreciate the sheer determination and grit that it takes to make a business work.
But on the flip side, when you get involved with your local business community, you will find that there are a lot of incredible people who will go out of their way to help you and you will make new friends for life.
I would count every guest that has been on the show as a true friend of mine and I feel privileged and incredibly lucky to be able to say that.
In my very first interview, Lee from WDA talked about his super-successful client who flies helicopters and has a collection of stunning exotic cars.
But he also talked about the fact that when he looked at everything this guy had sacrificed to get there – friends, family, watching his children grow up – not all of us would be willing to make that trade.
What’s becoming more and more evident to me is that your success in business has a direct correlation with how much you are prepared to sacrifice to get there.
A quote that sums up lesson four nicely, and I don’t know who this one is attributed to is:
“If you don’t sacrifice for what you want, what you want becomes the sacrifice”
Truth Number Five – Believe In Yourself.
Your beliefs and attitudes will play a key role in how successful you are in business.
Perhaps one of the most important is your self-belief.
You’re going to be totally responsible and accountable for your income and the success of your business – there’s going to be nobody you can blame if things go wrong and if a client isn’t happy with your service or product, it’s on you.
To be your own boss, you have to believe that you are good at what you do and you are capable of being you own source of income.
You can only deliver a sub-par service or product for so long before you start to lose customers and word starts to spread.
Mark Averill from ‘AV IT Media was quite clear about this in his interview where he talked about the fact that you have to be good at your craft, especially in an industry like photography where you’re only as good as your last shoot.
And for an inspiring tale of self-belief, what better story is there than Tina Clough’s from Poppy PR who despite being in the middle of the recession and close family and friends advising not to start out on her own, she went ahead and did it anyway and built a fantastic business.
Having said that, I think that often there’s a misconception that successful business owners have unwavering self-confidence and constant, total belief in themselves.
This might be the perception from the outside, but it’s clear that from talking to my guests about these feelings, we all have mental “wobbles” from time to time.
What seems to separate the successes from the non-starters is the ability to experience the same feelings, but move past them rather than let them hold us back.
This is a clear trait of high-performance people not just in business, but in sport too as was evidenced in Chloe Maudsley from the Derbyshire Instistute of Sport’s interview and her fascinating observations of high-performance athletes.
Some of the entrepreneurs that have featured on the show have mastered putting these thoughts to the back of their mind.
Take Tamsin Wheatcroft of Tamsin Wheatcroft Property Recruitment for example, who just gets stuck back into work and as she does so, any self-doubt just melts away.
Another way of combatting these feelings and one that I have taken on myself, was Tamsin and Sarah Moore from Juggling Octopus’ strategy of having goals clearly written down and stuck on the bathroom mirror or having a vision board chocked full of inspirational and motivational images.
Whenever the self-doubt or “imposter” syndrome kicks in, reviewing your goals and re-affirming your “Why” seems to be a great way of hushing the little demon in the back of our minds that tries to sabotage our ambitions and trick us in to taking the easy way out.
So lesson number five is that you must believe in your own abilities and also realise that from time to time, your self-confidence may slip, but it is the same for all of us and you have to have the resilience to strength to not let it put you off.
It’s self-esteem and self-belief that empowers you to make that first phone call to a potential client.
It’s what pushes you past caring what others think of you and publishing your first video on Youtube.
And it’s what will help to keep driving you forwards despite experiencing many rejections, of which there will be plenty.
And the following quote, who I cannot find who it is attributed to, sums up this truth well:
“The strongest factor for success is self-esteem. Believing you can do it, believing you deserve it and believing you will get it.”
Truth Number Six – Adopt A “Can Do” Mindset
There is a type of mindset that I am starting to strongly believe is a clear indicator of how far a person will get in business.
That mindset is a belief that there is always a way, no matter how big the obstacle or the challenge.
It struck me that all of my guests tackle issues with the attitude of “How do we get around this” or “How do we make it happen”.
It’s a million miles apart form the mindset of what I believe most of the population adopts – which is defaulting to “we can’t do this”, or “it’s never going to work”.
You see the latter happening in all walks of life, wherever you go – day to day conversations, online forums, comments on social media and I’ve found that when people hide behind online personas and anonymous accounts, you can usually tell with a degree of accuracy who is truthfully more likely to be successful in business from which of these mindsets they adopt.
Owen Conti couldn’t have put it better in his interview when he mentioned that if you tell him you want to get to the moon, he’s not going to shoot you down and tell you to be realistic.
He’s going to work out how serious you are and then put a plan together with you to make it happen.
Yes, he might have been slightly exaggerating with regards to the outcome – but that mindset of “anything is possible” – is a total game changer.
When Sean Barker approached Mark to be the photographer in his testimonial game at Derby County, there are many of us who might have turned the opportunity down not feeling quite ready to take on such a challenge.
But Mark didn’t.
He said “Yes” and then found a way to make it happen, borrowing equipment from others and calling in favours.
He still generates business from the results of that shoot years later.
It’s an attitude I greatly admire in someone who I would consider to be a mentor of mine and that I hope to get on the show one day. Let’s call him John.
There are many problems I have relayed back to John where I think I’m at a dead-end and I’ll be challenged with “have you tried this?”, “have you tried that?”, “have you spoken to this person?”.
And I’ll realise that the only dead-end was my own thinking. There is always a way.
John is super-successful and now worth tens of millions after having sold his business a few years back. It is clear to me that this attitude is a large contributor to that.
The problem is not necessarily the problem, it’s how we think about the problem.
It’s a difficult mindset to understand and adopt.
It can be frustrating being with someone like who believes that anything is possible when you’re not quite at the same level.
But I think it’s something you can train and change within yourself with a conscious effort to approaching things in a different way.
And when you do, it’s like being plugged into the Matrix where all of a sudden, you’re exposed to a world where anything is possible.
I’ll summarise this truth with another quote that unfortunately I cannot attribute to an original author:
“A positive mental attitude is asking how something can be done rather than saying it can’t be done”
And this, ladies and gentleman, business people and
entrepreneurs leads me onto my final and perhaps most controversial truth of
Truth Number Seven – Take Positive, Affirmative Action.
Of all the truths we have talked about so far, I believe that none are more important than this.
All of the principles we have covered amount to this and without it, not one word of what we have shared matters.
It sounds so simple, and it is – but it is what holds many of us back from kick-starting our journey to achieving our highest ambitions and reaching our dreams.
Simply put – you have to take action.
And here’s where I think a lot of people get confused.
Taking action is not watching a Youtube video.
Taking action is not reading a book.
Taking action is not listening to another podcast or audiobook.
Taking action is not booking a ticket to a seminar or motivational speech.
Taking action is not spending hours creating a website or designing a business card.
Taking action is not creating an Instagram account.
All of the above is procrastination
I think that we look for some sort of validation that we know enough about our craft or how to run a business to finally know that we are ready to start.
But that day is never going to come and the longer you hold off getting yourself out there, the more you’ll come to regret each day that you don’t.
Nobody is going to come and tap you on the shoulder and tell you “you’re ready”.
You already know enough to never read another book or listen to another podcast again.
Taking action is generating leads and closing sales.
It’s getting on the phone and speaking to potential clients.
It’s getting out there networking and creating opportunities
It’s creating customers for your business who will eventually generate income.
Because if there’s anything that is consistent for every guest that I’ve had on the show and every guest I will ever have on in the future, it’s that they all need customers.
And if you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business
Take Ed’s story again for example.
He knew nothing about lorries and transport, but the very next day after having his epiphany he was on the phone talking to hauliers talking about his idea – no book is going to give you that first-hand experience.
Again, think back to Tina and the fact that the very next day after quitting her job, she wasn’t reading about how to be a business owner or how to sell, she was out there talking with potential clients.
The same goes for Yvonnne, Estelle, Chloe, Owen, Tina, Mark, Sarah – all of my guests.
I think it’s important not to get confused with the stories of Warren Buffet or Bill Gates who read hundreds of books a year.
When you’re a billionaire with thousands of people working for you to keep your business running and making you millions, you can afford to spend a lot of time reading and learning.
And whilst I stand to be corrected, I’d place a large wager that they weren’t doing that when they were first starting out in business and building their empires from nothing.
The habits and schedules of billionaires bears very little resemblance to what they were doing and how they worked at the beginning.
So, after having listened to this episode and hearing my seven truths from nine real life business champions, I have a challenge for you.
Before you read another book, before you watch another youtube video, before you listen to another podcast – what affirmative action are you going to take that is going to move you one step closer to achieving your goals?
Whether it’s starting out in business, or a project you’ve wanted to start in business but never got around to implementing – what are you going to do?
I want to know.
Email me at email@example.com or message me on LinkedIn.
I’ll catch up with you before the next guest recap in ten episodes time to see how you’ve got on and give you a shout-out on the show.
And my final quote to sum up my seventh truth of taking action comes from Theodore Roosevelt and it goes:
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”
So, my fellow entrepreneurs and business people, these are my seven truths of business that I have discovered after spending time with nine outstanding and inspirational business champions:
1) Choose Passion Over Pennies
2) Start Now
3) Fire Bullets First
4) Prepare To Make Sacrifices
5) Believe In Yourself
6) Adopt A “Can Do” Mindset
7) Take Positive, Affirmative Action
Whilst this post may include some home truths that could be hard to hear, my hope is that knowing the experiences of other business owners, you feel even more motivated by having a better idea of what’s to come.
Remember, you have what it takes and by taking stock of the principles above, there is nothing that you cannot achieve.
Thank you for sharing you time with me and watch out for the next episode of “The Truth About Business” which will feature the brilliant telecoms entrepreneur, Jonny McPhee.
Stay hungry, stay fearless and most importantly, get out there and MAKE IT HAPPEN!
To your business success!
Host of “The Truth About Business”.