Being lucky!

As I have been telling everyone, notably on Twitter, I have had a lot of problems with IT over the last three weeks. I am pretty dependent on the technology working to keep my business running smoothly. I use many on-line services, paid-for and otherwise. In fact, the way I work as a quite small business would not have been possible fifteen years ago, and not too easy a decade ago. I started seven years ago as a fairly early adopter originally being on-line with 24-7 dial-up before broadband reached our area. Without the technology I would be a lone voice crying in the wilderness and never heard, and whilst the recent problems bring headaches, I have to be thankful that when the technology works (which is usually) it is magic. I am genuinely lucky that my business is facilitated (made easier – but the thesaurus isn’t that helpful) this way as a while back I would have been one of the unemployed with little prospect of getting work in a downturn.

Lots of people have similarly been unshackled by the technology and have genuinely a much greater chance of getting businesses off the ground to earn some money in hard times. I am not talking about dodgy MLM and “network marketing”; I mean real B2B and B2C business. Of course there may be a difficult market but there are opportunities to make a difference, to help struggling businesses and to be innovative too. For those who are computer-literate and can be flexible there should be a viable business (even if only providing a subsidiary income) using their talents or exploiting their knowledge in a hobby to go in a different direction. If you have experience in a market as a buyer, you can probably be a seller.

Today we have through technology the potential to gain knowledge my parents could never have dreamt of, and a much greater insight into what is going on in the world. Political and economics intelligence is available to us all and at little or no cost, so in a way there is no excuse for ignorance, though we should never be afraid to ask for help where it is needed.

I could get into trouble for this kind of article because many do not like the optimistic perceived coach-type pieces we see published so often. Some of my best friends are coaches. Chuck what you wish in terms of virtual brickbats. We ARE lucky in that we do not have to do as we are told and can go our own way, and all because of technology.

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Jam tomorrow?

A problem we get quite often in business, and which matters more to small businesses is when we see a prospect, or potential customer or client who makes a promise to you without actually signing a contract. He or she may say “yes, we will definitely need you in the Spring” or “I just need to get this rubber stamped by my co-director / wife / husband and we’ll start in a couple of months”. This creates a problem for us, and especially in trading in a weak economy. Do we plan to be ready for the work, do we look at getting any extra resources needed, and what about our marketing? If we got another major piece of business in addition to that promised, could we cope, or would we struggle in terms of resources?

The answer is, if we sit down and think about it, that it is no use preparing to work for a prospect if you have not got a contract in writing. The work may not come, the person may want to take you on but may be in such financial straits that he or she can’t, or it may not be solely that person’s decision. The client may never sign up; it might be always jam tomorrow, but never jam today.

Do not plan for work you do not have beyond knowing that you could do it, and never stop marketing to make space for work you do not have yet; in fact, never stop marketing. When you get more clients who have signed on the dotted line, then you can resource the work. Otherwise you will end up as Lewis Carroll envisaged in “Through the looking Glass”, waiting for something you will never get when you could be getting yourself something else.

‘I’m sure I’ll take you with pleasure!’ the Queen said. ‘Twopence a week, and jam every other day.’
Alice couldn’t help laughing, as she said, ‘I don’t want you to hire ME – and I don’t care for jam.’
‘It’s very good jam,’ said the Queen.
‘Well, I don’t want any TO-DAY, at any rate.’
‘You couldn’t have it if you DID want it,’ the Queen said. ‘The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day.’
‘It MUST come sometimes to “jam to-day,”‘ Alice objected.
‘No, it can’t,’ said the Queen. ‘It’s jam every OTHER day: to-day isn’t any OTHER day, you know.’
‘I don’t understand you,’ said Alice. ‘It’s dreadfully confusing!’

Exemplary Consulting for Business Support
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