Today we continue my story by picking up from where I left off, stepping out of my front door. I was totally prepared to take on the town, approach every business within a 10 mile radius and completely change my fortunes and rewrite the course of my life and achieve my business goals. The only problem with that little day dream was that I was totally unprepared, that’s the complete opposite of any type of preparation that I believed I had acquired. I naively thought that the two days of brain storming would be enough to develop a solid business plan, in an area of my business that I’d never attempted before. Seriously what was I thinking …
I had run out the door with ideas in my head and scribbled notes in my hand, I had hit the main shopping street and quite literally …. froze. No it wasn’t cold. My own fears, self-doubt and sudden realisation that I knew absolutely nothing about what I was doing hit me like a ton broken computers. Whilst I tried to compose myself I scoured my surroundings looking for the easiest target, the simplest approach, the nicest approachable individual. There were none of these things, at least not that I could I see. I honestly had no idea how long I stood there in the middle of that street, but no amount of time helped to claw back my confidence or even the understanding of the concepts I was trying to put into action.
Shamefully I retreated, I ran with my tail between my legs and I didn’t look back on my way to the car. What’s worse is that I repeated this process several times over the coming weeks during my routine trips to town and between my residential visits. There were consistent results of failure having not once stepped into a business premises to make any sort of approach. I needed to regroup and get my head together. I knew the basic concept was solid but I hadn’t a single idea on how to put any of it into action.
I freed a day for this regrouping process, but sadly came up with few ideas. In my desperation I sought help from my trusty friends at Google. The tech community, the business community must have thoughts and ideas for those in my field, people in similar situations must exist. But a day of investigation and endless search terms provided me with next to nothing, just titbits pulled from endless websites which ultimately amounted to nothing. I concluded that fear wasn’t through a lack of technical ability, my career to date had provided a strong foundation and technically I knew the needs of businesses of all sizes. Having the confidence to approach the business head on and sell those abilities effectively was the problem I was facing. The day was tiring and depressing and it was clear that the only person that could push me through to the next level was me. For now though I’d be taking a week or two off to spend with my family.
The next few days were quite extraordinary, it was time for my wife’s second trimester scan shortly followed a day or two later by a first time parent’s class. For anyone who’s been through the second scan experience will know how simply amazing it is, there is not a single thing that will compare to this moment. It’s the point of utter realisation that this is actually happening, the sheer joy of seeing your baby for the first time. We chose to keep the sex of our child as a surprise. The day refocused my determination to makes change, I felt completely refocused on my objectives.
As for the parenting class, we decided to give it a go, mostly due to some pushing and prodding from the midwife. We didn’t put much hope in that it would be useful given that it was on the NHS and free of charge but oddly it was a complete game changer in ways I had not envisioned. We went through the various exercises and lessons, changing nappies, feeding, bathing, etc. Pretty much everything we had read in books to date but it was good to be able to bounce our questions and ideas. The last exercise required us to split into two groups, male and female. Fun exercises with time to spare which resulted in what can only be described as a mini business convention.
It transpired that I was among a majority of business owners from the area, of which we had various things in common. I was able to discuss the problems with my business and learnt that it was a common problem among all business types. It was another level of cleansing, confidence building and I took the advice given to me by seasoned professionals. It finished with the trading of business cards and within the space of 20 minutes I had the details of 5 businesses and we shared common traits. We were all going to be fathers and all within a few miles of each other.
The time off was all I needed for the ball to start rolling. The next day I was back in the shopping street, the first business was a kitchen appliance store and I went for it. I marched in asked for the manager and got stuck into trying to sell myself, the experience took less than five minutes and in truth it was a complete failure. The biggest surprise was that the complete rejection didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would believing that this would be my biggest struggle. I started by taking in every aspect of the meeting, all of my mistakes. And I adapted. I then further tested my business approach on the five businesses I met at parenting class, the common ground we shared really helped gain some ground and skyrocketed my confidence. Regardless, only one of these businesses took me on, but that in itself was a huge achievement and success for me, the proof I needed to know this could actually work. It spurred me on.
The initial phase of business approach is difficult work and for me opened up some weaknesses in my business but primarily my personal skills which I needed to hit full on to effectively improve and move forward with my plan, my next article will focus on the continued improvements and what we did exactly to get those businesses on board.