Podcast series for entrepreneurs and business owners
Episode 40 Peer to Peer Networks and Building Nets
Peer to Peer networks is the secret recipe to building a strong resilient business. And, this is the topic of our conversation on today’s M&S monthly podcast show. This episode brings not only the usual mix of insights and practical tips but also news of an exciting business event that will be of interest to any entrepreneur.
* The Lonely Road* Peer to Peer Networks Support & Friendship* The Role of the Entrepreneur* Recap
The Lonely Road
Michael starts the conversation by talking about his early business life, and how hard he found it without the right kind of support and guidance, and the lack of a peer network he could turn to.
Simon brings the insights gained not just from years of providing support to businesses in a number of different roles, but his own experience of going through the process of starting out.
Since the last show, they continue the journey of walking and talking. They are currently undertaking the Pilgrim’s Way—a walk from Southwark Cathedral – London to Canterbury Cathedral – Kent and have just completed stage three. In the podcast, they reflect not just on some of the conversations they’ve had along the way, but also on how valuable the process is. By making a commitment to themselves and each other to get outside, into nature, they are creating an opportunity to ground themselves, to get away from their desks and be able to get a new perspective on their businesses and to be able to give and receive support from each other.
Peer to Peer networks Support & Friendship
Peer to peer relationship(s) is very important to Michael. It is built on trust and the sense of being on the same wavelength with your friend, walking partner, business collaborator, you can call it a number of things. They take time to listen to each other, and they value the other’s skills, talents and insights.
On today’s show, Simon talks about the King’s summit, a business conference unlike any other. Simon is one of the founders of this event, which is now in its fourth year. He shares the reasons behind the creation of this event and explains why it has been designed to be different.
There is a parallel between the way they connect and support each other, and the wider reach of the King’s Summit locally and nationally.
This year’s theme is about “Nets”, and it’s partly about creating networks—attending an event where you will be able to really connect with other business owners and start looking at building your business in a stronger way.
Simon has a different perspective on the meaning of networking, so listen in and discover the insight he shares on his interpretation.
In addition to hearing some great speakers at the summit, at the event, Simon is keen to help people build their very own Peer-to-Peer Network with others in the room.
Episode 39 Putting your best foot forward
In today’s episode – Your Best Foot Forward, Michael is in conversation with Sarah Gittins, an inspirational business owner who shares her journey to success and provides great insights for anyone wanting to create or grow their own business.
* First Steps* Making Progress* Next Steps* A Step Back* World Stage
Starting out in business, it’s easy to downplay what we do. We pigeon-hole ourselves, and focus on the job, rather than the business. In Sarah’s case, she’s a dance teacher and it took her a while to realise how much more there is to creating a successful business than just standing in front of a class and teaching. As her business grew, she continued to think in small terms of “just” being a dance teacher. Until she had a moment of revelation, which was all about mindset. We can “just” be a… whatever it is our business does.
Or we can run a business that provides that product or service. So her first leap in changing her way of doing business was to change her thought pattern around what it was she did. This is one of the many insights and tips that Sarah shares with the audience.
Gradually, over the next few years, Sarah learnt more and more about how to create and run a successful business. She understood how to build on strong foundations, and what would happen if they weren’t in place. She’s clear about what you need to put in place in order to have that strong foundation. Ideas that puzzled her in the early days, like marketing to an ideal client, became really obvious. This enabled her to build a successful dance school, that has multiple venues, hundreds of students, and employs other teachers.
As her own business grew, and her knowledge and understanding of business practice grew alongside it, Sarah discovered she wanted to help other people in her niche. As with any business, though, a lot of what she has learnt, and the lessons she shares, can be applied more universally to any business. In the beginning, she wanted to give everything she learnt to others, even while she continued to learn, both through formal study and practical experience.
Now she’s more methodical, having reflected on the process. Sarah talks about the importance of having the right information at the right time, but not being overwhelmed by information overload, or constantly distracted by the next great idea. Just as she didn’t understand the concept of ideal client initially so trying to implement strategies that built on that idea would have failed, so any business owner who doesn’t have the basics, to begin with, will fail to effectively utilize more advanced strategies.
A Step Back
The pandemic hit so many businesses very hard. And businesses that are built on in-person interaction, such as dance classes, suffered. Alongside that, other parts of the arts industries were equally hard hit with the lack of live performance opportunities. Sarah managed to find her own way through these difficult times. But it also gave her an opportunity to take a step back and reevaluate what she does, how she does it,
Episode 38 Leadership in different settings
In this episode, Michael is in conversation with King James, the pastor of Favour House Church. It may seem that he is an unusual choice of guest for a business podcast, but if you listen in you’ll find out why his message is relevant to leaders in all walks of life.
* Knowing your purpose* Feedback and adaptability* Recap – Leadership in Different Settings
Knowing your purpose
Whether you are running a business or leading a charitable or voluntary organization, leadership is still important, and there is much that can be learnt from one environment and transferred to another. Especially, during recent times, when passionate, empathic leaders have been desperately needed.
King James talks about his purpose. And in business, we all need a purpose. We need to know why we do what we do, in order to keep moving constantly in the right direction. King James’ purpose is very clear. He believes passionately in what he is doing, and the reason for it. This clarity of vision not only drives him but enables him to lead his congregation. They can get behind him and support him because they completely understand what he is striving for. Often in business, especially in the early years, we can get so bogged down in working IN our business, that we lose sight of our purpose.
And that means it’s hard for our network to support us. Because we’re not communicating clearly with them.
He goes on to talk about how he uses all the tools and skills available to follow his purpose. King James believes passionately that it doesn’t matter if you start small if you start with nothing. If you have a vision and are prepared to work hard, you can achieve what you are called to do. In his case, unsurprisingly, he is called to spread the word of God.
His calling is to grow the awareness and love of Jesus Christ. But that won’t happen by sitting back and wishing for it, any more than an entrepreneur can grow a business just by dreaming about it.
When asked about his leadership style, King James is very clear. He doesn’t put himself above others. He uses the style known as servant leadership, prepared to give his own time, his own skills and knowledge to not only grow his congregation but to care for them, to enable them to do their best work too. And this idea of enabling others to do their best work can be applied equally to running a commercial enterprise as it is to the voluntary sector.
Feedback and adaptability
Another quality that he values is flexibility or adaptability. He talks about how important this is, especially in recent times when so much has needed to change to cope with the pandemic, but also in more general terms, too. Being able to think creatively, to approach old problems with new solutions is a hallmark of a successful leader, in any sphere of life.
Once more, King James illustrates how knowing your purpose, always working towards it, enables change. It enables you to find ways to achieve your mission in spite of obstacles that might occur. In the case of the church, it meant they had to find new ways to serve their community when in-person contact was no longer possible.
He makes the point that organisations – whether businesses, churches or any other type – need to be able to a href="htt...
Episode 37 Simple Truths from the Pilgrim’s way
In this episode of the show, Michael and Simon are once more embarking on a long walk. Having completed the South Downs Way, they are now following the Pilgrims Way from Southwark to Canterbury. This is the trail immortalized in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales but was a well-used pilgrimage route before Chaucer and his companions made it famous.
* History and Geography* Routes and Maps* Groups and Gurus* Kings Summit* Recap
History and Geography
This walk is very different to the previous one, and Simon and Michael reflect on the similarities and differences of walking these two well-known paths.
The Pilgrims Way offers greater diversity in the environment they walkthrough. For one thing, there are more obvious signs of the history of the route, and of the country. Michael and Simon consider the impact of history on the present day, and how we can draw lessons from the past. They discuss what the route, and the experience of walking it, might have been like for those pilgrims centuries ago. The historical sites and green spaces are broken up by industrial parks, a clear change from that long-ago experience.
Routes and Maps
Another big difference is the need for a map. The South Downs way is clearly signposted throughout, and it would be almost impossible to get lost. But the Pilgrim’s Way isn’t clearly marked, so they needed to refer frequently to the map. This led, of course, to a comparison with business. Many business owners find themselves going off-track, and they may not have a clear map to refer to recover their direction. Simon shares some great insights and pointers for how business owners can create their own map, and how best to use it to their advantage.
Each time they veered off the path, they would realise, consult the map, and get themselves back to where they needed to be. But that is not the only lesson to be drawn from this. There is also the fact that they were walking this road together.
Groups and Gurus
In the early days of setting up and running a business, entrepreneurs can feel lonely. They don’t know where to go for advice, or who to trust. They may turn to the so-called business gurus for help, but while many of them offer great information, they’re not all as good as each other, and it’s not always easy to tell them apart. Michael talks briefly of his own experience.
Simon is a great proponent of groups. Not just networking groups, but peer-to-peer support. He refers to a fantastic historical example that included some stars of the business world and then goes on to talk about how people can access this kind of support today. The benefit of a peer support group is that it grows into a tightly knit unit, where each member supports the others, cheers them on, celebrates their success, and offers practical support and advice to help solve problems. There are a number of opportunities available to get involved in this, or similar activities, sponsored by the government. Listen in to hear more details.
Simon also talks about the King’s Summit, an annual business event that he runs. This year, they are back to meeting in person,
Episode 36 Important Lessons for a profitable bottom-line
In this episode, Finn and Michael talk about Finn’s latest thinking and insights about the business he is planning. Despite being on holiday, Finn’s business brain is still working hard, a situation most entrepreneurs can relate to. A lot of the work that goes into a business, particularly in the early stages, is mental. We dream, plan, and learn.
* Playful learning* Business Questions* Beware of bargains* Market research* Recap
In Finn’s case, he has been combining work and play and looking to see how he can learn some business lessons from the products and services he uses himself. And the first of these is how he uses his PS4. He talks about the attraction of subscription models for both consumers and suppliers. He then continues on the topic of games and gaming, by comparing the new and second-hand markets for games and accessories.
He is beginning to reflect on his own experiences and those of people he knows. He’s starting to understand how companies spot the profit potential in different markets, and what they need to do in terms of advertising and building their reputations in order to create a viable, sustainable business.
Finn has a lot of consumer experience, and he is beginning to put this to good use in thinking about his own business. He is asking himself interesting questions, such as ‘What makes a good product?’ and ‘How do companies promote their products?’ but also, maybe more importantly, ‘What makes a good business?’ He’s becoming more aware of, for example, the power of reviews. He explains how he, as a consumer, will use reviews when he is considering a purchase and reflects on how they can affect the business and the bottom-line.
Beware of bargains
In recent weeks, Finn has begun experimenting with using some popular well-known online sales portals to find out what works and where things can go wrong. He has both bought and sold; he has looked into different portals and their strengths and weaknesses, and he has both made a profit and lost out to a scammer. He has learnt some valuable lessons from his successes and reframed ‘failure’ into a different learning experience.
He discusses the old saying, ‘If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.’ While we all love a bargain, sometimes we need to evaluate how much of a bargain it really is, and this ties in with his earlier observations about reputation and the need to create repeat business and referrals, increasing the bottom-line.
It has also raised his awareness of terms and conditions of sale, purchase, delivery, guarantees and refunds. All important elements that he will need to build into his own business model.
Finn has already begun thinking about how he can make sure his business will be successful from day one. An important part of any business venture is to be sure there will be a market for the product you want to sell. Finn turns this around and is finding out what people want to buy.
Episode 35 Dealing with Crisis in the Spotilight
Dealing with crisis
In today’s episode, Michael is in conversation with Ann Wright of Rough House Media who has an interesting personal business story, and great information for other business owners.
* Starting off in media* Making the most of media opportunities* When things go wrong* Not just for corporates* Recap
Starting off in media
Ann began her working life as a journalist on a regional paper. Even at that early stage of her career, she chased down a big consumer story that went national. A series of career moves took her to the BBC where she ended up as a producer on some high-profile documentary and consumer shows. She and her husband originally founded Rough House Media as a side hustle, but after her son was born she took the decision to leave the BBC and concentrate on the business.
It was a steep learning curve, as she grappled with all the unaccustomed tasks that fall to every business owner. Not the least of her new challenges was sales. Although the business was already in existence, their client base was small, and she had to expand it to make the business viable. Early on, she discovered the power of saying “yes” to opportunity and then working out the next steps.
Making the most of media opportunities
Since 2008 the business has gone from strength to strength, helping their clients prepare for media appearances. During that time the landscape has changed and developed significantly. Mainstream media is still there and is hugely influential but alongside that, the rise in social media has produced a different kind of impact. Posts can go viral within hours or even minutes—and not always for good reasons. There is a rise in podcast and YouTube channels, providing a fantastic array of opportunities to spread the word about your business.
If you want your business to develop and grow, then it is important to understand how you are perceived, whether that is on TV, on a podcast, or on a social media live interview. If you are unaware of how to present yourself and your information in the best way, then your brand may suffer from audience perception that you are ill-prepared, unprofessional or, even worse, a bit shady.
When things go wrong
Rough House provides training in all aspects of media, and one of the most important elements of what they offer is preparing clients for how to deal with a crisis. Since March 2020 we’ve all had more than our fair share of crises, but even without a pandemic things sometimes go wrong in business. Social media has the power to make a small faux pas go viral in minutes. How would you cope if that happened to you?
With her background in the BBC Consumer’s Unit, Ann has seen time and time again what can happen to a business when things go wrong. She saw the hundreds of thousands of complaints that came into the unit from people who felt they had been treated unfairly or ripped off. She and her team investigated many of them.
Ann and her colleagues have a huge amount of combined experience in the media, covering events of all kinds, both celebrations and disasters. Who better to prepare you for the worst? Ann has some great tips and advice for dealing with crises....