Get Your Umbrella Out!!!

I love writing about my business journey as it reminds me of where and when I started.  When I consider my start-up route, I am also reminded of the need to ensure our mindsets are in the right gear to start and run successful businesses.

I shared this quote by Dolly Parton on my status update recently – “There is no rainbow without rain”.

That has now become my favourite quote. When we write our business plans, we expect most if not all conditions to be favourable. We expect sunshine every day and exclude ‘the element of risk’ which is an important factor in business engagement.  Well, you can’t be more risk-adverse than I used to be.  I carry an umbrella in my handbag 365 days a year just in case it might rain even when the temperature hits late 20s.

Well the truth is,  the road to business success is never a straightforward one – like the British weather actually. As I write this blog, I reflect on how the weather has been quite unpredictable over the past few weeks. I went into a shop recently when it was sunny and came out in need of cover from the rain. Can’t seem to know how to dress the kids for school, should we have jumpers, coats or just t-shirts? A business works the same way, you might not get sunshine every day, but when you do it is so beautiful and rewarding.

My advice to anyone starting or running a business is ‘be prepared for all kinds of weather.’  To avoid frustration and despair, know that business does not flow in a straight line. There will be dips and curves, ups and downs, summer and winter. Just be sure you have got a good and viable business idea in your hands.  The good news is, the more you put in, the more you’ll get out of it.   Be conversant with your business seasons, maximise the summer months and store away for winter. It’ll make it much easier to deal with successes and failures and get through every time.

So get your umbrella and wellies out and be ready to dance in the rain.  Don’t let adverse conditions deter you from enjoying your business journey.

I wish you good success.

Temi Koleowo

Business First Steps – tools that bring ideas to life.

Advertisements

Why Redundancy Can Be A Good Thing

My Employment Journey

610632_menu djayoI was an accounting professional and privileged to work in a stable government agency for many years and even had the opportunity to travel abroad (which I didn’t take up regrettably).  Anyway years went by and I got better at my job, more confident and transferred to another agency which (unknown to me) was going to be my last.  The job was like sitting in an easy chair – the route to work, my hours, the tasks were all predictable and became less of a challenge. But a regular salary was my comfort blanket, especially with another baby on the way.

Fast-Forward 2009 – Post Baby Number 2

In 2009, redundancy struck and pushed me way out of my comfort zone. I was hurt, resentful and I panicked. Who will employ a mother of two young kids in a busy accounting department? What happens when the baby is unwell and I can’t come to work, what will happen if my train is delayed and I can’t pick up my babies?  I struggled to find a job that will fit round my family life and was partly depressed for a while.  I wanted to be available for my family but at the same time enjoy a fulfilling career.  My situation forced me to look inward at the skills and talents I have been ignoring for so long.  My situation forced me to ‘SWOT’ myself and that is what gave birth to Write2Explain then Business First Steps, Business Next Step and Business Start-up 4 Girls.  I marvel at the things I do now – who knew that I had all that within me, my ex-colleagues are equally amazed too!

The Route to Now

The journey may not have been smooth all the way.  But like any task in life I have learnt to jump over the hurdles and challenge myself to achieve better results.  One of my favourite scriptures from the bible that always gives me comfort is “God makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble]; He sets me securely upon my high places.” Psalm 18:33 Amplified.  I have also been privileged to meet some amazing people and mentors on my journey who challenge and encourage me to reach for the stars.

I read this comment in a book I was studying a while back –

“Do not get drawn into the “result trap” – focusing entirely on the destination and losing sight of the flow of the journey.”  There is so much to learn on the journey and if we do not stop once in a while and look around, we will miss out on the lessons we need to learn along the way.

What’s Your Story?

1319069_the_door ilcoAre you facing redundancy and like me, panicking about the next step? Do not be afraid to look inward and locate all those hidden talents within you.  If you decide to go into another job, at least start by being true to yourself and your core values – this will enable you to perform to the best of your ability.  If you decide like me that entrepreneurship is the way forward, ‘Do it even if you are afraid!’  I wake up most mornings asking myself “why” and go to bed at night knowing exactly the reason “why”.  That is what fulfilment is all about.

So when next a circular goes round the office, do not panic – focus on the opportunities that lie within the change.

Support makes the transition from employment to self-employment a lot easier. If you need a sounding board, Business First Steps can provide the support and services you need to make the transition as smooth as possible.

I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo

If you need the SWOT analysis worksheet and other tools to help you identify your core values, your strengths, weaknesses and your passion then click here

Photos courtesy of sxc.hu ilco and djayo.

8 Questions to ask your Business Idea

Its official…2013 is the year of the entrepreneur. If no one else is declaring it, I am. I meet so many people courtesy of my job who are no longer satisfied with just answering to their line manager or following a strict job description. More people want to express themselves doing what they love and enjoy.

So if you are thinking of taking a step towards maximizing your passion or start a business. I have got a few questions you should ask your idea?

bigstock-A-thinking-man-in-the-center-o-28807037

 1. Does your product or service add value?
More people can now see beyond a good idea. If you want to compete with others in the marketplace, then you will need more than nice packaging and a good website. Your product or service should add value to the lives of your target market and readily make a difference once they make a purchase.

 2. Who will buy your product or service?
I made this mistake a few times when I started out in business. As soon as I thought of a good idea, I plunged it right on my website. When people did not buy the service, I got a hump. What I failed to see then was that a good business idea in my eye won’t translate to sales if my target market don’t need it. Take time to discover your target market and their needs. Then develop products and services that meet their specific needs – you will have a better chance of making a sale.

 3. Is your industry a saturated market?
If you are considering a product or service in a highly saturated market, you should be ready to fight to survive. You will also need more that a Unique Selling Point as you can be sure as day that as soon as you launch your idea, someone is going to be on your heel. So analyse your product’s benefits in-depth and find specific and unusual ways to make it stand out.

4. Is there a rise or decline in demand for your product or service?
Is there really any point in bringing to the market a product that is on the decline? If your idea has been waiting on the back burner for many years, is now the time to finally ‘Bring it to Life’? I believe in passion but passion and good business sense go hand in hand. You might need to go back to the drawing board and redesign or redefine your products or services.

5. How will technology advancement or other factors affect your business?
Sadly many businesses have gone into administration recently, I am sure they tried to move with the times but some are not just fast-paced enough to catch up. With the speed of technology development nowadays, the adage “you snooze, you lose” is so appropriate. How long can your products/services last on the market before something new comes along? What are your plans to keep up demands for products or services? Good questions to ask yourself if you are considering a long-term business.

6. Is there room for development or modification to meet new demands?
If you are designing a product or service, you should factor in room for improvement. In five years time, what modifications can you add to your products or what further benefits can your services provide? Have you got another version/better specification model to follow? It is important that you design your products/services with the future in mind so you can keep supplying those who need what you offer.

 7. What are the established businesses in your proposed market doing?
Carry out some research to find out what the big players in your industry have got up their sleeves. What is their next business step, what products do they have in the pipeline? Preempt their next moves and brainstorm their ideas to see if they can give birth to new ideas for your business?

This is totally random but I love this post on Entrepreneur.com ‘The secret of what makes a product go viral’ 

 8. How do you see your product or service developing in the next five years?
Even though most business owners would say they have a five-year plan, the plan can only be at the very best – a plan. If all the variables remain constant, maybe then maybe we can achieve our five years goals. You should always consider various options for your business development at any given time including an exit strategy.

Maybe now is the time to get your business idea or product development off the back-burner and start taking actions to bring it to market. But before you sign the office lease, send out the new product flyers and order the equipment, in-depth market research can never go amiss before a start-up/new development. Consider your options, analyse your answers, if you need to change your game plan, by all means do that but do not stand on the sideline and watch the world go by.

Get a bit of the action! The world is waiting for your business idea to blossom.

Need help discovering your passion, developing your idea, setting up your own business or brainstorming roadblocks in your existing business? Then contact me and let’s explore your options together.

I wish you good success.
Temi Koleowo

Persistence, Snowflakes and Starting a Business

I was fascinated as I watched the snow fall over the weekend.   I watched it fall way back from my window so I was unaware of the effect it had on the ground.  It was obvious that the snow was light – you know those flakes that you think will never settle.  I thought that the snow will probably clear out in a few hours so we can go out the next day.

20130121_091412 snow2

But how wrong was I! Due to the consistency of the snowflakes that kept on falling, it became quite obvious that it was going to be the traffic-stopping, school-closing kind of snow.  I was taken aback when I ventured out and surveyed what had happened. Alas, the whole place was covered in snow…it was breathtakingly beautiful and a snow fight with the kids was imminent.

My Business First Steps

You may wonder why I’m going on about the weather, isn’t this suppose to be a business blog. Well the snow reminded me of when I started out in business.   It was challenging to get any client initially and I was overjoyed if anyone even agreed to work with me for a small fee. Clients came in trickles, sometimes one or two in a few months interval.   I had to constantly remind myself that small steps lead to giant strides and I was learning a lot as I went along.  Today I can gladly say I now get a regular flow of clients every month.   It has taken hard work (even when I don’t feel like it) mixed with consistent and persistent actions to get this far and I am not even near where I want to be yet.

1411773_winter_landscape_with_trees_and_snow lewyzThe journey can be rough when you start out in business, but it doesn’t stay rough forever.   You develop new knowledge, skills and a better coping mechanism to deal with whatever comes your way.

But you will never grow if you do not start or if you keep starting and stopping every time you hit a roadblock.   

A few flakes of snow for a few minutes cannot make much difference, but a few flakes that continue to fall over time can have a snowball effect.

Find Your Starting Block

If you want your passion, idea, concept, community group or social enterprise to make a difference, you need to commit to being consistent and persistent.

Three very important steps to help you get over the first few hurdles of starting a business:

  1. Find your starting line – define your passion, aims and objective.
  2. Get on your marks – put things in place to prepare you for the journey and stay focused.
  3. Then GO!  Push forward in the right gear and with all that you’ve got and never look back. 

Starting and running your own passion-based business is a fulfilling and rewarding option. Whether you want to do it full-time or in addition to your current job or family life, you deserve the chance to give it a go.

I wish you good success.

Temi Koleowo.

Get in touch if you find the business start-up journey rather hazy.  I am passionate about helping people package their passion, ideas or concept into something fulfilling and enjoyable. www.businessfirststeps.co.uk – personalised and practical business start-up coaching, brainstorming, resources and support.

 

Is Honesty Still the Best Policy in Business?

I love the internet and the infinite possibilities it offers people like us who do business online.  But I also know there is a dark side to the internet world where the bad boys reside with their friends – malware, spam and others.  An innocent click can lead you down the wrong path, taking up your time and money to put things right.

As much as the internet is an infinite world where customers may never meet supplier, I think we need to remember the basic moral value called Honesty.  A lot of people are actually internet adverse because they have been burnt a few times. Who’s to blame them?  There will always be those businesses that use scrupulous means to get a few sales. I hope you will never be one of them.

Do you need quick sales? Are you going to join the bad boys or hold on to your integrity?

A lot of businesses online are in it for a quick buck. Customer relationships means nothing to them, if they sell to you once, they believe another naïve person is just a click away.

If you are starting out in business, do not build a business on promises you cannot deliver.  If you can only offer two of your services/product deliveries a month, start with that until you are able to manage your schedule better.  Do not book ten deliveries and end up disappointing nine.  It will be harder to win them back a second time around.

I believe it is better to have one customer over time with good referrals, rather than 100 customers who never come back.  That is what gives business longevity.  I delivered a seminar recently and promised to send the presentation notes to those that were interested. After I sent the notes out, I could not believe the responses. Most of them were just surprised that I delivered what I said I would since there was no exchange of money.

Consider this, even if you do not get to see your clients face to face, still maintain honesty in your dealings with them.  Deliver on your promises and if you can’t, communicate with them and let them know. They will appreciate you for it.

Being a small business is a challenge in the fast paced world of big businesses, franchises etc.  We can’t offer the huge discounts the major chain stores can, but we can offer added value products/services supported with excellent customer service.

You job is to ensure all your products and services have the honesty tag attached to them.

I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo.

Free Two Hours Parking

I know this might sound strange but I always dread parking in those free two-hour parking bays.  Some of them will state free two hours parking limit, no return within three hours.  I question if I return later than two hours whether I will be booked for my tardiness? Does anyone actually set the timer for cars parked in two-hour limit free parking bays?  I really will love to know the answer but not at the expense of a parking fine.

The parking sign got me thinking (as I do) about business start-up and development.  A lot of us park in these bays with the notion of just staying for two hours and we end up staying there for much longer than we anticipated.  Ok, we probably will not get a physical parking ticket for hanging out in our ‘comfort zone’ bay longer than we want.  But life does pay back to those that do take action and those that don’t – in the long-term.  The question is what payment will you prefer?

  • You may be in a job or career with five years’ time limit
  • Your business idea may still be on the ‘two year limit’ back burner
  • You may have even started a business but there is no noticeable growth to show for your efforts.
  • The number of your customers are still the same after so many years.
  • Products or services are still the same range.
  • Someone else has done something similar to that business idea you have been nursing for a while.

My question is “have you exceeded your parking limit” in your current bay.  What happened to the goals you set at the beginning of the year about the things you wanted to do with your idea or your business?

Have you moved from the parking bay, drove around for a while and ‘returned after three hours?

Ok so the first business idea or new product didn’t work out after putting in so much effort, time and resources. I understand the disappointment but please do not return to the same old bay.  Why don’t you explore other parking (business) opportunities instead, for all you know you might get a better spot with little or no restrictions.

I know what it’s like to be charged up momentarily, ready to face the world but feel dejected when challenges crop up forcing you to go back to your old bay.  It is so easy to get caught up with life and what it brings, but to succeed we just have to fight to achieve our goals or we will never get to the right destination.   No successful business owner will tell you that running a business is an easy feat.  To excel and go beyond the thought stage of your idea, business, products or services, we must push beyond the barriers.  We need to set realistic goals and achieve them through consistent and persistent actions.

Find a Better Parking Space

If you have been working on a new product or service for your business, how can you accelerate the process?  Do you need to set realistic goals and deadlines, get help or a mentor, get more resources or gain more knowledge?  Do you need to set time aside, reduce your workload so you can work on your business rather than in your business?

Are you a start-up?  Consider what you need to do to actualise your business idea.  Make a list of the things you need to change and start taking action to make headway with your idea.  What are your roadblocks? Identify the actions that are keeping you in that parking bay and work toward eliminating them.

Be uncomfortable in your ‘comfort zone’ and choose to make conscious efforts to grow – it offers great dividends and rewards in the long run.

Till next time

Temi Koleowo

Business First Steps – personalised and practical business start-up services

Photos courtesy of bigstockphoto and johnridley sxc.hu

Social Media Opportunities

Are you a stay-at-home mum or dad looking for something to do?

Are you in between jobs and looking for a new career path or new business?

Why don’t you join in and ride on the Social Media Wave?  There are so many opportunities out there that you can maximise and also make a living too.

Some of those opportunities include:

  • Graphic designer – creating Facebook banners and twitter backgrounds
  • Social Media profile setup
  • Social Media updates
  • Virtual Assistant
  • Editors
  • Copywriters
  • Social media management and more

Your first business step is to find out about your chosen area, there is limitless information online – eBooks, videos, how-to articles etc. Assess your skill set, find out what you can or can’t do.  If you commit to developing yourself in an area within the next few months, you could be getting paid for your own gigs very soon.

Go on, give it a go!!!

Till next time

Temi

www.Businessfirststeps.co.uk