Thursday, 25 February 2010

If you’ve had enough of the day job it might be time to take The Leap

When I quit my job in 2000 to set up my own business consultancy, I felt like a real pioneer. Now ten years later, the world seems to be full of the self-employed. Every town coffee shop is full of micro-entrepreneurs, freelancers and consultants with the tools of their trade: a skinny cappuccino, laptop, wifi connection and a bunch of ideas.

My book ‘Leap! Ditch Your Job, Start Your Own Business And Set Yourself Free’ is full of everything I’ve learned doing it for myself, by myself. ‘Leap!’ is your personal navigation guide for freelancers, start-ups and work at homers.

It’s awesome to hear from readers how the book is resonating with their own experiences. I recently heard from Pamela, a reader in Sydney Australia:

“I wanted to write to you and thank you for writing such a simple yet powerful book. I am a 40 year old IT professional and have spent the last 16 years of my life working for two multinational PC Companies and your book has changed my life! I instantly connected with your informal writing style and read your book and instinctively knew that this was my time to leap”. (thanks Pamela)

A key message in the book is about having the right attitude and mindset when you work for yourself; you can access the whole first section ‘Attitude’ here (totally free, no strings..). You can hear a review of the book by Mohammed Seedat on SmallBizPod here (review starts at 02:17).

And if you’d like to read a hard copy of the complete book, get it on here and here.

If you're taking the Leap, let me know how you get on.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Take That Risk

Last Thursday I finished a project for a new client. It was the first time we worked together and it went really well. But neither party knew that before we started; I wasn’t even a ‘known quantity’ – the client had a hunch, thought I might be the right guy for his project. He took a risk.

That evening I saw a woman who’d hired me for a work experience role 22 years ago. I hadn’t seen her in nearly 20 years. She told me she just had a feeling when I walked into that meeting room all those years ago, that I was going to fit in to her TV company. She took a risk. And a risk that paid off, as they hired me after I left college, which then paved the start of my random career path and led me to where I am two decades later.

Sometimes we try and avoid risk. We don’t like to stick our necks out or go for something, in case it doesn’t work out. But that attitude won’t get you far in life or in business.

You need to take a risk. So hire that person, launch that business, pitch for that gig, email that CEO you want as a client, ask that person out you really fancy.

Do it.

Friday, 19 February 2010

David Hieatt's "The Things The Last Ten Years Have Taught Me"

Until last year David Hieatt* was CEO of howies, the outdoor clothing retailer he founded. If you’re a howies customer, you’ll be familiar with some of the touches that make the brand so distinctive. From signs in stores to the catalogue, this is a brand with an attitude and purpose. And it’s refreshingly different.

In their Carnaby Street store in London, I snapped this photograph of the changing room wall. Written by David, it’s “The Things The Last Ten Years Have Taught Me”.

I’ll let it speak for itself (click on the image to enlarge):

* if you’re interested in finding out more about David, check out my post about him on my ‘Unplan Your Business’ website here.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Juggler Stories: #1 Phil Leggetter

I’ve been very lucky in enjoying support from a great bunch of people who read my book 'Juggle!'. In an ad hoc video series I’m meeting some of them for coffee; hearing about their Juggle lives and what they got out of the book. I’m calling it ‘Juggler Stories’. Up first, Phil Leggetter. Phil is a Real-Time Web Software Consultant, team leader, product developer, micropreneur, managing director of a real-time web and social media software company.

Here’s Phil’s story:

If you can’t see the video displayed above, see it on YouTube here

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

“She was good at serving coffee”: Hiring On Attitude

I asked a client where he’d found his latest recruit.

“She was good at serving coffee”.

He’d met her working part time in a coffee shop and had liked her attitude. Once they got talking and discovered she was looking for a new role, he snapped her up. It wasn’t about her skills, it was her attitude.

And a reminder of the importance of hiring on attitude/culture. Because you can teach skills, but (usually) you can’t teach attitude. Last year I sat in on some interviews where my client was recruiting for a customer-facing role. Every candidate had the right skills and experience, but not everyone had that culture fit.

When I was a manager in my 20s I sometimes took company culture for granted, assuming most candidates could soak it in. I was wrong; I made a couple of hires where the person didn’t fit and that led to issues over productivity and team dynamics. But one hire stands out: the guy had been working at a casino. He had buckets of passion and enthusiasm, a great personality but zero experience. I hired him and we trained him up. All my clients loved him.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Rethink Success: Stop Chasing The Numbers

There’s so much pressure to chase the big audiences. Whether you’re a shop, a small business, a brand, an author, a band, a new movie the questions are always about: how big is your audience? How many people bought your product? How many clients do you have? How many visits did you have to your blog? How many followers do you have?

But success doesn’t always need such obvious benchmarks. Your brand or product doesn’t have to be the market leader or the biggest to be a success. It just has to have impact, to fill a niche, resonate, make a difference, solve a problem, fulfil a need.

If you stop chasing the numbers and focus instead on your talent and how you can make a difference to your clients and audience (whatever their numbers) you’ll still find success. You’ve just got to remind yourself that on this occasion, size doesn’t matter.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

When The Clock’s Ticking But Nobody’s Paying You

Last week I went to a meeting that was a ‘CWOT’. A Complete Waste Of Time.

Travel time + lost time = frustration.

If I was working as an executive at an organisation and on somebody else’s payroll, this would still be frustrating. But when you work for yourself, it’s more painful - after all, nobody pays you to turn up at meetings.

In ‘Juggle!’ I talk about the importance of managing time and getting value from *all* you do. I don’t just mean a hard financial return, I mean value: whether you took time out to enjoy a movie, or you enjoyed a coffee. That’s still value. But when you didn’t even enjoy the train ride, that’s a waste of time.

You won't always know in advance the relationships that will be fruitful and those that will just waste time. There’s no guaranteed criteria you can apply, no iPhone app that will work out the answer for you. Because where randomness and serendipity play such a role in growing your business, you never can tell it might be useful until you show up. You just have to trust your instinct; sometimes you’ll get right, others not.

So make sure you think about how you carve up your working day. Being self-employed in ‘biz dev’ mode is a bit like being a taxi driver but never sure whether your passenger will pay until you get to the destination...