“Finding Huw” as opposed to “Where’s Wally?”

 

As the title explains – this isn’t an adult version of “Where’s Wally?”, although, it has to be said, there are certain similarities that you may find along the way (feelings of utter frustration, and a nagging sense of “why am I even bothering?” can, and will, crop up from time to time.

I originally thought about ‘Discovering HUW’, but that, in itself, wouldn’t be completely accurate.

Discovering something, I think, makes it out to be some sort of surprise, or even shock…. “can you imagine my surprise when I discovered a whole family of fairies living at the bottom of the garden?”  It sounds exciting, magical…. Finding something, on the other hand, is more useful and probably a bit mundane …. “I was really quite relieved when I found my car keys in the bottom of the laundry basket”.

It’s more of an “aaaah” moment than an “Oooooh!” moment.  However, I digress.

Huw isn’t a person.  If I had a friend called Huw (which I don’t incidentally) I would think it most unlikely that his name was spelt like that – He would be ‘Hugh’ surely?

HUW simply stands for HOW YOU WORK (or HOW U WORK).  This is a very good place to start if you are considering running your own business, and certainly if you are at the very beginning of your journey and feel compelled to embark on a spot of research.

The best way to get the most out of the time that you have available to work on your business it to understand how you work, or more importantly how you work best.

This takes a little thought – and invariably a pen and paper. Let us start.

During the process of finding HUW you should consider a few basic things:

  1. What’s your ‘time of day?’ (I’m from a family of market traders and I am therefore totally pre-disposed to being a morning person. You will NEVER catch me sat at a computer at midnight creating great works. Never.)
  2. What time do you have available and in what format? (Do you have a baby/small children that will invariably interrupt anything that takes longer than an episode of Peppa Pig) or are you a shift worker and have blocks of two or three hours at a time?

Once you have considered this – think about your concentration span.

Me?  Like I said – I am a morning person and as long as I am uninterrupted I can merrily jog along with a project for two or three hours straight.  I do take a 10 minute break after 45 mins or so though – just to rest my eyes, re-hydrate, and double-check I’m still on track for what I’m doing.  You may have noticed team,  that I tend to wander off a bit….

Give me anything to do after 4pm and you’re whistling up a gum tree frankly. And no, I have no idea where that saying comes from either – feel free to pop it in the comments below though …..  thanks.

  1. What’s your most effective way to learn? Are you a visual person? Do you like to read? Do you like to read and make notes? Are you an audio person?

I’m an audio person – that’s my favourite.  I love audio books and I love the radio.  I also love to read – and now I have a Kindle I happily highlight away at pages with key messages and interesting facts and life is better for it.

So ask yourself what you like…  there is no point watching a stack of YouTube videos if you’re not going to remember half of what is said or done.  Equally, plugging your way through an e-book that is apparently going to tell you the 5 Marketing Mistakes to Never Make – is a waste of time if you’re not going to remember any of it.

You may find that you’re just lucky and have a great memory – and research is a whole lot easier if you enjoy the subject and what you’re learning (the same cannot be said for double Maths last thing on a Friday afternoon….  I swear I should have had some kind of counselling after that….)

  1. Are you a plodder – or do you prefer life in the fast lane? By this I mean some of us can, once we’ve decided what the goal is, proceed at break-neck speed to our chosen destination. Others, however, prefer to take their time, crossing ‘t’s and dotting ‘I’s where necessary.

Neither of these are bad – but be aware they each have their own pitfalls.  The former meaning that silly mistakes can be made, or you miss out some vital components of the journey in the mad dash to get to the end.  Equally the plodders can take so long to complete a project that they forgot the purpose of it in the first place – or take so long mulling things over that whatever it is they started is obsolete by the time they’ve finished.

Decide which you are – and just be very aware of it.  If you’re a speed freak – you may wish to start each project or ‘milestone’ with a checklist of what you wish to achieve – and make sure you check your work against it at the end. (In fact this should be a rule of thumb for everything you do to stay on track and focussed).

Likewise if you’re a plodder – you might want to have a go at setting a time limit for yourself – say 30 mins to get to “such and such” a point – and see if you can pick up the pace a bit like that.

Don’t overdo it though – if you start getting flustered and panicky – just keep going at your own pace, just be mindful that progress is key.

 

So, if you have small children, but are not an evening person, and a bit of a plodder – you do have your work cut out, BUT, it’s just about getting organised.  Pick out sensible windows of time to work on your stuff – possibly set a little timer – and get going.  The other option is a little bit of help perhaps with childcare or domestic stuff?  I’ll be talking about this a lot …… so if it’s not an option for you now, it’s not the end of the world – keep calm, as they say, and carry on.

Once you have found HUW, your life will be enhanced – believe me.  It took me an absolute age to even realise that HUW is important. You will be aware of the better times to research and work on your business, when and how you will do it – effectively.  Without wasting any where near as much time as you would if you had never considered HUW.

Top tip:   Time = v. important.

There is an inordinate amount of information out there – so it is soooooo easy to just pick up anything that looks vaguely interesting, sign up for it and then feel compelled to start reading straight away only to realise it’s a load of old crud that you’ve read before (in various guises).  In addition, spending three days devouring a copy of Napoleon Hill ain’t worth a sausage if you can’t remember anything other than the Acknowledgements and the second half of Chapter 2.

So – to summarise:

  1. Time of Day
  2. How much time?
  3. How you learn

Every time you need to read up on or research any part of your business (or anything in fact), make sure that it sits with the answers you give to these three questions, and then be mindful of number 4, making sure you are achieving what is intended – whether its learning a new subject or skill, or completing a project of some sort.

 

 

Fish shouldn’t be made to climb trees

Hello!!

I just had to share this one with you.

This video makes an important observation about the education system today.  Being the sister of a teacher, I think she would definitely agree with much of what this guy says.

 

I’ll leave it there  for today my friends- the video speaks for itself.

 

You can jump on here.

 

 

As always guys – if you think you have something to share – contact me on susannah.pyne@gmail.com, I’ll be waiting!

Ronan Keating was right after all…..

Let me explain.

I’m talking about enthusiasm and zest for life, for your business, for your next BIG IDEA!

You see today I had an ‘up and downer’ – like the overly used phrase of an experience being like an “emotional rollercoaster”, I feel I have no other words to describe it…  So an instant apology there.

I received a lovely weekly blog from a friend and colleague who writes brilliantly – is very much like me – and so I get very excited when I see there’s some new stuff to read.  As always, the piece was succinct, light hearted and genuine, and by the time I had finished reading I felt genuinely happy with my lot.

I then moved on to another site that caught my eye, and began reading the blog on there.  The site in question was by a female marketing and business coach and her style was very engaging.

As I read on she was talking about a piece of marketing she had received from a fairly local company to me – I actually buy from them, and I read the copy of the letter she had posted on her site.  It was great – I felt a sense of connection because I am familiar with the company and the product, and also the name of the person that wrote the letter.

I found the letter heart felt, genuine and funny.  I actually thought it was rather clever. I thought that this would be the same for the writer of the blog, and I got excited!

“Why would you get excited about that?”

Good question – but here’s the thing.  She was writing blogs, in a similar style to mine, AND was now blogging about companies that I was familiar with and had previously had dealings with, and she was saying how great their marketing was – which was a view I shared. This, (I see now with hindsight) was VALIDATION for me.

I had the same thoughts, knew the same sorts of people, and shared the same views with this woman who is clearly an extremely successful entrepreneur with a good client base and online presence.  She comes highly recommended by several people I know.

“Wow” I thought. “I’m actually on the same level – this is the sort of thing I do!”

She was saying many things that I agree with….. But then…

DUN DUN DAAAAAHHHHH!!!   It all went ‘wrong’.

You see, I hadn’t read the blog the whole way through at this point.  The writer was not finished.  Oh no, not by a long chalk.  She proceeded to dissect said marketing letter, and by dissect I mean practically destroy.  Had I written that marketing letter I would have been crest fallen.

She made some interesting and undoubtedly valid points based on her clear knowledge and experience of marketing – but it was too late – my bubble had been burst!  I did not see this coming…..

How could she build me up in this way? Making me think I too was quite clever, (we may even own the same scarf), and then – in the blink of an eye – shoot me down to feeling pitiful and worthless.

I wasn’t ‘her’ after all……

“What kind of idiot am I? Why did I not see what she saw in that ‘innocent’ letter?”

I’ll tell you why.  Because I wasn’t looking.  Because I’m not a marketing coach. And because to be perfectly honest, what I think about it doesn’t matter.

I write about how to improve your life and business – that covers an exponential amount of ground.  I don’t care if a local farmer has committed the marketing crime of the century by sending out a less than polished pitch, and in my humble opinion team – neither should you.

However, what I have taken away from this is thus:

  1. People will often make snap decisions about you and what you do. You can do nothing to change that – you just need to continue being you.

Some people will like you and some people won’t.

That’s the same for every single human being on the planet.  Try to be liked by everyone and you will be forever disappointed.  Being genuine and having integrity is by far more important.

  1. Learn all the facts before making a decision. I am one of the worst for this. I am impatient, I skim read, I want to get to the end of one thing just so I can have the thrill of going onto the next.

STOP. SLOW DOWN. TAKE YOUR TIME. 

Read everything thoroughly, whether it’s leaflet, a novel, or (within reason!) the small print.  If you bothered to pay money to read it – it will be worth it, and finally….

  1. Ronan Keating was right after all………..

 

There’ll be more soon from me – and if you like writing why not contribute to the ‘Lab’? – comment below or fling me an e mail – susannah.pyne@mail.com, and we can get something sorted, I’ll be waiting!!

 

 

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. – that’s how you will sell to me…..

Oh my oh my.

It has to be everybody’s pet hate – cold calling.  In this day and age there are a thousand ways to get in front of your potential customers – but still, cold calling seems to be the preferred method of choice for some companies.

There has to be a reason for this – and that reason must be, that for some people it works.  However, for every “yes” you get at the end of the phone, you’ve gotta be prepared for a heck of a lot of “no’s” first.

This morning I took a call from a supremely confident (and I have to say, absolutely dreadful) sales lady.  She was calling from an energy company.  The call went something like this:

“Can you give me the name of the person that deals with your energy account?”

Me:  “That’s Me”

“Oh, I’m sorry – what’s your name?”

Me: “I’m Sue”

“Oh” (flustered – desperately trying to find place on script) “Hi Sue, erm, I’m calling you about your energy contracts.  We spoke a couple of months ago and you said that your energy contracts were due for renewal about now….I just wondered when was a good time for someone to come and speak to you about renewing your energy contracts?.”

[WHAAATTT? – We operate the office from home – I have no ‘contracts’ due for renewal now or at any other time.  And if she knows all this how come she doesn’t even know my name?  She’s lying – and I’m now cross]

Me: “Do you know how big a company we are?”

“Yes – you’re a limited company”

Me: “Yes, but do you realise how big we are?”

“Oh, no – I was just about to ask that” [We’ll call this mistake number 2]

Me: “Well we’re quite small, we only have 7 employees and I work in our home office”

“Oh that’s ok – we can still renew your energy contracts”

[I still have no idea what the name of her company is, what she does, or where she’s calling from]

Me: “It’s OK thank you – I don’t want to change energy suppliers”

“What – you don’t want to save money?”

Me: “I’m really busy and I don’t want to look at changing anything right now”

“What. You don’t want to save any money?” (Sounding slightly incredulous at this point) {Mistake number 3 – not even ready for a refusal]

Me: No.  Thank you. [Puts phone down]

Several things spring to mind here:

  • If you’re going to cold call your clients – know them first. Target your market and do some research.
  • If you’re looking to make an appointment to see someone do not expect them to allocate you a nice little space in their diary at the drop of a hat. Show some respect.
  • Better still – do a set of calls first, or research the company website to see if you can lay your hands of the name of the person you need to speak to and then call and ask for them personally.
  • Introduce yourself, even if it’s just your first name. If you introduce yourself with your full name and company, often that’s enough for alarm bells to start and people will switch off.
  • Tell them why you are calling – but do not try and railroad them into a meeting by not stopping to take a breath. This is old school – people are more than savvy to it these days – and you WILL fall flat on your arse with a swift and often sarcastic refusal.
  • Better to say that you think you have an idea/product/service that may of interest to them/be a fit for their business, or something equally ACCURATE but less direct.
  • If the customer then asks what you do – tell them. Don’t be ashamed, tell them with passion and positivity about what you offer and why you think they’re going to LOVE it.

The main thing is to show some respect for your target.  Be courteous, and ready to answer their questions – not just mindlessly repeat phrases like this Doozy did.

Cold calling is one of the most difficult approaches to marketing there is – get it right, and you’re laughing.  Get it wrong and it can wreck your business, your reputation, and your nerves.

If you need help with your marketing – seek the help of a professional; I’ve worked with Lindsey for a long time.  She helps me – a lot.  You can see more of her work right here.

More from me soon – but if you would like to contribute to the site – contact me in the comments below, I would LOVE to hear your stories…. have a great day!!

 

 

Baby blues? There has to be a better way..

So many women I have met who want to start their own business want to do so for the FREEDOM that it brings.

This is often triggered by an impending return to work after having had their first child.  It’s a harrowing time – and just about everyone woman I know has felt a sense of guilt, or even shame, having to leave their little ones in the care of strangers.

I went back to work when my daughter was 5 months old.  The doctors had made something of a rollocks of my due date (it went from 13 September to 28 September, and my daughter was eventually born after being induced and a resulting emergency C section on 7 October!  Even then she was still covered in vernix, a sign that she probably wasn’t overdue even at that point).

This meant I had left work before I had needed to, and subsequently had to return to work before she was 6 months old, as I had originally planned.

Now, of course maternity leave is 12 months – but that brings with it its own dilemmas for those used to, and living within the means of an above average salary.  How do you pay the mortgage, and the bills, and the insurance for two cars and so on and so forth?

But what do you do?

Do you bite the bullet and say “Right – hang it, I’m not going back.  I’m going to do something else instead.  Something that I can do from home!” and this, whilst juggling the demands of being a new Mum, with a home to run, and maybe even other little people to consider too?

It’s a big step.  One I didn’t take.  I played it safe, and although hindsight is a wonderful thing – I should have made the leap.

I was, even then, in a profession that I wasn’t really taken by.  It didn’t drive me. I didn’t have the passion that I should have had, and I certainly didn’t enjoy it.  This coupled with a very unsupportive (female, I might add) boss – and you have a recipe for misery right there.  It sucked.  I fought tooth and nail to get part time hours in the early days – there was simply no way I was going to leave my baby for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week in a nursery with people I hardly knew.

So I managed to negotiate – but was felt like I was a total let down to the department, and my team, and I battled on with 20 hours a week for as long as my finances would allow.

Now – fourteen years later, I can only look back wistfully at the options that lay there before me.  Options that I never truly believed back then that I had.

But the options were there for me, and probably today I would say more so for the women of this generation.

So before you decide that you don’t have a choice – the answer is that you categorically do.  It just takes organisation, determination and a shed load of courage in the early days, but, and I’ll say it again – you do have a choice.

For instance, I fancied hairdressing.  My Dad’s best friend was a hairdresser and had a salon in town.  I would watch him, and his eldest son, and then his son and daughter after him all join the profession.  The only thing that stopped me was money, and the time that it would take to train.  Two years.  That’s all.

If I had known then what I know now – I would have done it.

I could have done an evening course when my husband was home to look after our baby and by the time I  qualified she would have been more than ready for a few days a week at nursery – and I could have started work in a proper salon.

I could have worked as a mobile hairdresser, or from home, or part-time in a salon.

I didn’t do it because I was scared.  I thought that the money was more important and worried about all the things that could have gone wrong – rather than all the things that would have been better about my life.

So if you are in the position where you are worried about going back to work.  Or downright depressed about the thought of leaving your baby and returning to work full time, or even part time, then I implore you to explore ALL of the options first.

And if you’re not sure where to start – then hopefully this site will help and inspire you to break through and make the changes you want to make.  Start right now.

You may just surprise yourself……