Incy, wincy spider…

So. I’m sitting at my desk. working on the laptop – as usual – and in my peripheral vision I see something crawling down the wall. On a string, well its web. It was a surprisingly large spider actually.

I imagined various scenarios – “What if I was asleep and it crawled into my ear and laid eggs?” “What if it crawled into my hair and crawled out in the supermarket?” What if I felt it crawling down my neck and in my frenzy to brush it out I flailed my arms around and punched someone in the face and knocked some vases over?!”

In the end, none of that happened. That was my overactive imagination wreaking havoc.

This time I simply got up, calmly, got the vacuum cleaner out, switched it on and sucked Spidey away into the abyss. Then I turned the Hoover off, without drama, put it away, sat back down and got back to work. Probably took around 92 seconds.

In this blog there isn’t any big action. There’s no momentous event, or intense scenario that provided the reason for this week’s entry. It’s all pretty calm. However, I did learn something in dealing with Spidey. I saw a challenge, thought about a solution, utilised the solution, dealt with it and continued with my tasks. It made me think that maybe business should be like that too. Sometimes, we should just get up and deal with whatever is in front of us. We should just see the problem and utilise a quick, easy and painless solution for all parties. My usual screaming and jumping around would have caused a delay in my working schedule, put me behind with tasks and made me unnecessarily stressed out. I know this is what happens. It has happened before…

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We know that business can throw problems at us sometimes. There’s a whole host of difficult situations that we can find ourselves in as we go about building our businesses and changing our lives. Spidey taught me that sometimes we have to just deal with them – without fanfare, sometimes on our own and in a calm and reasonable way, so that we can carry on delivering our products and services to our customers.

So this is dedicated to my Spidey and all the other Spideys that have been dealt with that have taught me a valuable lesson. Believe me, I have done the loud, sweating, screaming, skin crawling, irrational, arachnophobic response when faced with spiders. I might even do it again…however in our businesses, sometimes we have to learn to face our fears head on and keep pushing forward, calmly.

That’s it.

Good luck conquering your literal and metaphorical spiders!

 

“Hey Mr. DJ!” (and Ms…)

On Saturday night I attended an event hosted by a London based rapper called Ty, and his collaborators The Handson Family. He is well known on the independent music scene as well as across Europe and internationally. They run an event called “No Long Ting” – a statement made in various contexts in London and Caribbean vernacular. None of this is the actual point of this blog though – just a bit of colourful background.

I had a wonderful time on the night. It was full of great people, friendly faces and DJs that I know and admire. DJing is a passion that people have that brings intense levels of enjoyment whilst doing it. The joy of playing music you love, to a crowd of people visibly and viscerally loving what you’re doing at the exact same moment as you’re doing it. Deferred gratification it isn’t. It’s different to a chef or a painter as the customer and the service provider feel the enjoyment at the same time. I’d never thought of that until I started writing this…That’s not the point of this blog either but it’s an interesting point nonetheless!

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What struck me and inspired this week’s blog was the statement that was made a few times on the night “If you thought you would come here and hear the same music every time, you’re in the wrong place!” No Long Ting happens a few times a year, so I understood the context of the comment. It was only afterwards, at home, drinking a cocoa, that I thought about what that statement meant and how it relates to business.

When we are delivering a service to our customers, whether we are entertainers, party hosts, workshop facilitators, graphic designers, tailors, gardeners and any number of others, we ought to take a similar approach to no repetition. Let me be clear though: consistent quality in delivery of our service is of utmost importance, every time. Developing an understanding of what our customers would like to see, have or be moved by is a crucial part of our role as business owners. However, it is also our duty to keep things fresh, to innovate and create new experiences for our customers. Business is about experiences – solving problems and making sure that we meet our customers’ and clients’ needs in a way that will inspire them to come back to us whenever they require that product or service again. It’s not saying that every time you deliver you deliver something different as that doesn’t work for all services, but the core concept is one I co-sign. Be creative, offer the “what” you do in ways that are inspiring to your customers.

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By saying that “You will always hear different music when you come to No Long Ting!” the event created a high level of expectation in those that shared the dance floor. Those that didn’t make it that night, heard about how good it was and will likely try to ensure their attendance next time it happens. Our businesses should be like this too. Our greatest marketing tools are our customer ambassadors – those people that tell their friends and family how good we are. The enthusiasm, passion and interest they show when speaking about your business can’t be valued, and we should always be working hard to get that positive response from them.

“Always hear different music when you come to this event!” In relating this to business, it reminded me of innovation. New music, new remixes, unexpected mixing of tracks, different genres – this is how we should approach what we do. Are you delivering the same information in the same way you always have? Offering the same product to all of your customers regardless of their different challenges? Are you working hard to “move me” with your creativity and by offering solutions that meet my specific needs? Like the party on Saturday night, I should be encountering your business and feeling like you have made an effort for me as your customer. I should feel like you’ve thought about what you are going to do for me, and that I and my enjoyment and customer satisfaction matter to you.

It can be useful to do an audit of your business and ask yourselves these questions. Explore where you can be creative and innovate. Ensure consistent quality in everything you do, and give your customers a great experience.

Good luck!

A nice cup of tea…

I’ve just finished a lovely cup of tea.

The perfect temperature, perfect sweetness and the right amount of milk. My preferred blend is Earl Grey. I’m not a purist though as I have mine with milk…I know, I know…!

I used to have the occasional hot chocolate when I worked in my last job. It was convenient as we had a Costa Coffee cafe on-site. Now though I drink tea. A lot of tea. It’s the way that I break up my day, stepping away from my laptop and between calls and clients, going through the ritual of brewing up a cuppa.

I noticed today, that many of my daily habits have changed, and my beverage choice is a small element of that. Since taking the leap to become self-employed, my routine is different. I have various alarms set for reminders to share posts on Instagram and twitter. I have daily targets to increase my followers and levels of interaction across my various social media accounts. I spend time on Facebook but with a different agenda than before. I have to think about my personal visibility in a very different way now, something I didn’t think about at all whilst in a job. I am constantly thinking about my messaging and ways of doing business and creating my own opportunities. In a job, someone else directs our work and measures our progress and targets. Now it’s all on me. Whilst this is a challenge it’s also incredibly exciting.

So yes, I now drink a lot of tea; but I’m having a great time whilst doing it…

Reminder of our upcoming event:

9th November, London, “Starting Up! Problems and Solutions” – tickets and info here: http://bit.ly/2dTEaf6

Oh and those social media accounts I referred to:

@13Rhythms on twitter, Instagram and Facebook