Do it free and do it well.
8 months ago I had this crazy idea of starting my own business. Fortunately for me, I had a great mentor who I could speak to about what I needed to do to kick things off. Usually I would follow whatever he said word-for-word without deviation from the plan but this time was slightly different. Amongst the usual great advice I was used to he mentioned something I didn’t quite agree with, and had I listened to him Start Cre8ive would have been extremely delayed or might not exist today. “Damoy, make sure you don’t do anything for free.” For some reason those words didn’t sit so well with me, and so the next day I began reaching out to business owners on LinkedIn to offer my services free of charge. Eventually a few agreed and those freebees are what helped to build Start Cre8ive’s foundation. More importantly, they gave me the confidence in my offering, and after providing value, I knew I had something.
Network, network and network some more!
This is possibly the toughest mental hurdle I had to jump over. I used to be uncomfortable going to places and speaking with people I didn’t know, but I had to get over that very quickly. Your business depends on your ability to not only network, but network well. You have to be confident and communicate effectively with your peers, potential customers and everyone in-between. The reality is if you aren’t confident in yourself and your abilities then why should anyone buy from you? Would you buy from a salesperson who knocked at your door and looked at the floor the entire time? Have the confidence to not only promote your product or service, but to tell people your story. I strongly believe that people buy from those they either admire or like. Self-confidence is attractive and gravitating but be careful not to show-off because no one likes that.
Think about your public image.
This! I gave a talk to the Hammersmith & West London College men’s basketball team last year and I spent half the time speaking about their public image. Having come from a basketball background myself, I know how a culture can capture you. Luckily, things have changed a tad bit but when I was a teenager (can’t believe I just said that lol).. Anyway when I was a teenager the “basketball look” was a lot of oversized jumpers and sagging jogging bottoms. I used to wear two joggers everyday. The first one tighter and at my waist and the other would sag. I did this to ensure my underwear wasn’t exposed. As crazy as it sounds, I was so comfortable doing this that I found it really difficult to break out of that habit…luckily we got there in the end.
During the talk I asked the team to think about their image both on and off-line. Think whether or not you are you representing yourself in the best possible way. Something that is key and what I would say is the most important takeaway in this is to ensure you show everyone an equal amount of respect at all times and in every situation. Being a good human being should always be number 1, but you also never know who someone is, how you can help them and how they can help you.
Trust The Process.
Starting a business is tough! Kind of like making a pledge to lead a healthier lifestyle and get fitter. The first few months can be daunting and you aren’t going to see instant improvements. Working out every now and then and eating unhealthily won’t get you to your desired goal, you’ve got to commit and exercise discipline. What’s likely to happen If you don’t is you’ll become frustrated and fed-up. You’ll eventually even quit or give less effort because you feel you aren’t getting the results you want. It’s the same when starting a business. You can’t cheat the grind. Work towards your goal everyday. Think of it like creating a masterpiece – your Sistine Chapel, though unlike Michaelangelo you’ve got no time and very little resources so you’ll have to improvise and chip away little by little, but always trust that you’ll get there in the end.
By Damoy Robertson