Using our window of opportunity in business

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I have a favourite walk just round the corner from home, where the footpath leads around a farmer’s field ( and past an ancient hornbeam wood, but that’s another story). In early August after a lot of sunshine and only moderate rain, it struck me that wheat which had been sown this year was just right for harvesting. I walked a couple more times around this field in the next few days and wondered why the corn had not been cut. Of course it might have been for waiting a turn with hired machinery, but everything seemed perfect; the condition of the wheat and the dry weather in particular.

Then August showed her fickle ways. It rained and it rained. When I took my next walk, a lot of the wheat was bent over or laid, and even the upright ears and stalks were turning black. The chance was gone, the hard work wasted and the money for that work all gone.

There are times when we need to release our inhibitions and just go for the opportunity. Usually we step back from taking action when we have the chance by giving ourselves small alibis for inaction. Sometimes rather than wait we must force the issue because otherwise our great plans and our hard work will come to nothing. As well as inspiration and enjoyment it takes courage to run a small business We must take our opportunities while we can.

Don’t you agree?

© Jon Stow 2010

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More imagination in customer service

Having been frustrated with the lack of interest in new business exhibited by local event venues and hotels, I have to be fair and mention that one of them telephoned back after a week to say that they could meet my proposal for the amount per head for each of my breakfast group, but they would need to charge an extra amount (actually quite a lot) for our use of a room at their establishment. Quite why they thought this would be satisfactory when clearly I was looking for a particular budget, which they disregarded in adding the room cost, I just don’t know. It is not as though their room would normally be in use between seven and nine in the morning, and since my business group is not in the habit of trashing every room in which we have a meeting, I doubt whether there would be a significant cost even for cleaning beyond a brief run round with the vacuum cleaner.

Presumably they wanted the business; why come back with this when basically I had given them a take-it-or-leave-it proposal with a known outcome and no real downside when they would have had staff in anyway to prepare breakfast for hotel residents? There is a distinct lack of business nous frankly. Obviously I declined their offer.

I was feeling a bit disappointed, but driving back from a meeting on Thursday I heard an ad on the local radio station for a restaurant I had not considered; I had not been aware they were open except in the evenings; apparently they are under new management. The commercial said they served breakfast, lunch and dinner, and hosted events. Naturally when I got back to the office I gave them a call. The duty manager seemed very business-like, she thought they could accommodate the group and was happy on my price proposal, subject to the approval of the owner, which she got. As they do not normally open for breakfast until nine, they are going to get their chef in early or the owner might be in the kitchen, but we are giving it a trial on both sides.

It is refreshing to get a great attitude from someone prepared to give a try to something new in the way of business. Maybe they will decide breakfast events are not for them, but they have an open mind. That is how we in business should approach 2010 and in particular business in a downturn: with an open mind. Otherwise we will assume doors are closed which many just be open a little and only need a push from us. At least, that’s what I think. How about you?

© Jon Stow 2010