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How not to be your business’s worst enemy

When it comes to running a Business and how successful that Business ultimately turns out to be, can we in fact be our own worst enemy, getting in our own way of developing, progressing and growing?

Gremlins in The Cogs

At first glance you might dismiss the above question as ridiculous – perhaps you feel that you’ve an entirely open mind when it comes to planning the route that your particular Business will take throughout it’s ‘lifetime’ indeed you might, but as you begin to let the question sink in, are you starting to ask yourself some probing questions?  Do you have suspicions that you might actually be the one who’s intricately weaving those ‘gremlins’ into the cogs?  And really, how open is your mind to new and different ways of approaching and actually doing things?

Which ‘Path’ To Take?

To an extent we all seem to be able to apply the ‘blinkers’ or bring the ‘shutters’ down when it comes to certain issues – when we’re faced with a junction in the proceedings – we can choose to go either left or right, or indeed a myriad of ways, but do we always take the safer path, the one we know, the one that leaves us feeling calm, happy, content, safe, in control?  Could this have been a good juncture in fact to have chosen the road less travelled, made ourselves step out of our comfort zone into less well known or trodden territory?

Stretch Your ‘Rubber Band’

I remember from my college days a lecturer in Psychology describing the attainment of new knowledge and skills as stretching the ‘rubber band’ – the more new information and experiences that we take on board, the better.  Our confidence grows as we learn to deal with new situations and next time something like this arises we know from our internal ‘database’ if you like, how’s best to deal with it, how we could and should react and even feel.  If we don’t stretch that band in essence we can become experience and knowledge-poor – our response to certain situations and stimuli could start to become knee-jerk reactions, which lack forethought, vision, clarity and wisdom.

Baby Steps

Ensuring that we don’t end up with a poorly stretched rubber band isn’t as hard as you might think but it can take guts – the guts to step outside of your own personal comfort zone and try something new.  We can all start practising this by taking baby steps – even as small as deciding to try a different Starbucks blend rather than have the same day in, day out.  Once you feel the exhilaration of achieving small steps, moving on to making bigger changes somehow just doesn’t seem so hard or scary.

Don’t Just Take Risks; Take Calculated Risks

I recall reading somewhere that no savvy Business person takes risks – rather they take calculated risks.  They’ve thought it through, applied their Business know-how, weighed up the pro’s and con’s and as a result, the action they subsequently take is classed as acceptable to them, even though there’s still a chance that the outcomes might prove unexpected or at least not what they had hoped for.

I’d agree with this.  So long as you apply calculated forethought to your particular ‘move’, especially where this might have more far reaching affects than simply altering your daily choice of coffee, you’ll begin stretching that rubber band and start to both feel and see the benefits.

You Can Choose To Ignore That Little Inner Voice

Considering a venture into new ‘terrain’ can invoke fear, there’s no doubt about it.  The ‘shutters’ might come down automatically and the little voice inside you might point blank refuse to look at or even think about this fear-inducing proposition.  But that little voice is just a part of you and you can choose to ignore it – after all, what will you lose if all you’re doing is considering this untried and untested form of action?  Right.  Nothing.  Not a thing.  Diddly squat.  But hang on a minute, there’s potentially a lot to be gained, so putting one foot onto this path less travelled is starting to look quite attractive isn’t it?  In fact by even starting to open up your mind to investigating, you’ve already begun to follow this ‘branch of the line’ that might very well lead you on to bigger and much better things in the future.

Go Forth & Stretch!

Remember that fear of first riding your bike without stabilisers?  How did you feel when you contemplated getting into that swimming pool for the very first time in order to learn to swim?  True – some of us haven’t been able to overcome all our fears over the years, a trip to the Dentist is never really going to appeal to this gal, but I think that our chances of success improve substantially the minute we choose to, and actively step outside of our comfort zone.  Who knows what Business successes (or indeed personal goals) we’ll achieve by applying a more open mind to what we do on a daily basis?

Go forth and stretch is what I say!

About the Author: Alexandra Trapnell began operating her Virtual Assistant Business in early 2008 from her base in the Cotswolds after spending 24 years in a successful support career.  A highly respected Professional, Alex has previously worked in Secretarial, PA and Office Management roles, in sectors such as Event Management, Training, Recruitment and Higher Education to name but a few and as a result, is well placed to offer a wide range of Professional Services as a Virtual Assistant.  Email: alex@alexandratrapnell.co.uk  Website: www.alexandratrapnell.co.uk

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About Alexandra Trapnell

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4 comments

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for this – I’m more than happy running my business from the comfort of my home office. And I’m at ease attending client meetings. Yet I’m terrified by the prospect of networking and walking into a room full of strangers – but how else will I spread the word about what I do? I guess the more I network, the more I stretch my rubber band, right?

    Jo.

  2. Hi Jo

    A very good question. Be assured that you are not alone in feeling like this. I’m writing some articles at the moment focusing on Networking hints and tips, but in the meantime, here’s some advice to help you ‘dip your toe’.

    I’d recommend that you start with the less formal Networking events such as those run by Business Link. If you take a look at their website : http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/event?r.li=1081113273&r.s=a
    you’ll be able to view events taking place within your area.

    The first great thing about these events is that you don’t need to make a formal introduction to those present about your business – although this is a great way to get yourself known, in the early days of your networking career, it can be a bit scarey – I remember – it wasn’t so long ago for me.

    Secondly, you can choose whether you want to network or not – you don’t HAVE to – if you don’t feel like talking to people present, you don’t have to, but you’ll probably find that it comes naturally to talk to those at the table you sit at during the proceedings.

    Business Link events are set up around a presentation, the aim of which will be to help you to learn more about a business related subject such as Marketing, PR, SEO or a myriad of other subjects – I don’t always go along with the sole purpose of networking – rather I go along sometimes to ‘get me out of the house’ or simply to learn more about a subject I’m interested in and feel that I might be able to use more advice on in my own business.

    Many people that you meet there will be very new to networking and also, very nervous – you will not be alone in this and you’ll find that by chatting to someone, they open up like a flower because someone is showing an interest in them and their business and is helping them to feel at ease.

    Go to a few of these and you’ll start to feel more comfortable amongst groups of networking business people. Look out for my Networking articles for more useful hints and tips and let me know how you get on.

  3. I agree with Alex that Business Link events are really useful and often free (or occasionally low-priced). It’s a shame that these are unlikely to continue as the Business Link service winds down due to the Government cuts.

    Subsidised business support like this is really valuable for those who don’t have the confidence or networks already in place to jump start their business, so I’m hoping that something will emerge to fill it’s place.

    Several organisations are there to support women specifically, which can make networking much less daunting. Suffolk Business Women amalgamated with the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce late last year and have been promoting women’s networking events successfully through those networks since. There is a cost to becoming a Chamber member, but I believe that some of their events may still be free.

    My opinion: Making connections and learning from others is a vital way to taking the plunge and making those calculated risks!

  4. Jo, a great tip that someone gave me is to head to the network meeting knowing that if you want to leave after 10 minutes you can – and sometimes I do!

    I also like to see if anyone else I know fancies going to it, and have, on occasions co-erced friends who have ended up enjoying themselves!

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