Baptism by Fire
“So pleased to see you”.
A few simple words and yet so fantastic to hear. Until the next sentence quickly followed it.
“Can you do a coffee run before you take the minutes”.
Beginning my career in the corporate world had been a deliberate choice. Well with an Economics degree it was either banking or accountancy. And the opportunity to work for one of the top four banks was one I could not refuse.
Fresh from graduation, I had moved from the West Midlands to the big smoke that is London and had been excited to start on the management training track. Although I had the mickey taken out of my accent from day one, because I said bath rather than barth and buzz rather than bus, so I changed the way I spoke to fit in.
And back to the gentleman who had judged me. As a newly appointed manager, I had been asked to take over a critical project. Such a huge compliment, I was so pleased and a little bit scared. Imagine walking into the project room, in the 90s, to be faced by a sea of suited and booted gentlemen, at least 10 years my senior.
And it was one of those gents who had judged me to be the admin person and assumed I was there to take minutes.
I took a deep breath, sat down, and said “good morning, my name is Lisa and I am here to take over the project”.
Now the person who had judged me as soon as I entered that room never apologised, but I learned a valuable lesson, to be confident in your abilities.
Why? Because the project was delivered on time and to budget. Oh and I never did the coffee run either!!
Testing Your Ability to Adapt and Change
Resilience was the key that day and has been on many other occasions.
Spending a career in the corporate world certainly gave me lots of opportunities to test resilience.
Imagine being in a country where you only know the two colleagues you travelled with, attending a European group-wide event of 500. And suddenly, your colleagues have to deal with a major business issue and you being faced with presenting their material, even though you have not seen it before!! And you know what, I am still convinced to this day, they spent their time next to the pool sipping cocktails.
Or the time I was told I had to join a panel during a Loyalty World Conference in London and discuss building customer loyalty. And just before the interviewer began, one of her team came over and asked if she wanted to stream live. At which point I noticed the dirty big camera at the back of the room!!
Adapting Has Never Been More Important
Something we have all experienced recently, when the world stopped in March 2020. It seems such a long time ago now, yet memories are still vivid.
Suddenly everyone was faced with change and a period which will be captured in all the history books. There was no choice other than to be resilient and guide your way through the best you could.
I watched my small business fall off a cliff and, like many others, I had a decision to make. I had only set it up a few months earlier, so I could either accept what had happened and do something else or find a way to rebuild.
I chose the latter and set about developing an online profile, with the objective to build an engaged community, to support each other. And I have met the most fabulous small business owners along the way with the most brilliant customer offers and great customer service.
The stories and the reason we set up our businesses are as diverse as sharks and dolphins. And still there is one element that links us all, being passionate about what we do, as there is a deeper reason why we do what we do.
Life can be complicated, especially when you wear so many different hats, so being resilient is a great coping mechanism for all the challenges you face.
For example, even when you set up in business, how many doubters did you have?
With no start-up investment or experience of running a small business, a weekly phone call from my brother made me more resilient than I had ever been in my corporate career. One simple question made that call a groundhog-day: ‘got a job yet?’ was a question I heard every week for a year.
It may be a tough road and one I thought of leaving more than once but I just remind myself how I wake up happy and get to do what I love to do every day. So ‘winner, winner, chicken dinner’ as far as I am concerned. And amazingly no weekly groundhog-day calls anymore.
As we navigate our new normal, being a small business owner means daily resilience, where the focus has been survival and supported by the real relationships built with customers.
You are in an ideal position, as connecting has become even more important than ever and you know your customers, their names, who they are, and how you can help them.
Your resilience is what makes you strong because you have to accept change on a daily basis and you can actively choose how you respond. And accepting that some changes are in your control, some you can influence and others are out of your control. However, how you react is the key and focusing on the positives and opportunities is what sets you up to succeed.
I recommend you embrace change as your resilience means you will adapt and benefit from new opportunities.
Thank you for reading
Lisa Simcox, Little Artisan Marketeer, taking your small business from best-kept secret to fiercely in demand
Lisa is a member of the Woman Who Achieves Academy