I was chatting to a friend of mine whilst watching our respective sons play rugby last Sunday. Rob Mamuda has set up several businesses in his time, and is the current owner of Alexander May estate agents.
Rob has kindly bought a copy of my novel (in case you weren’t aware of it, more info here) and we were talking about how to go about promoting it. The conversation moved onto the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ and then to what advice we’d give anyone setting up their own business.
There were two stories that Rob told that I’d like to share, as they constituted excellent advice. A friend of Rob’s had asked him to check over his business plan. This chap’s parents had given him £50,000 to help him set up in business, and had, to his credit, set out how he would use the money and what his plans would be.
Rob’s advice? Give back the £50,000. Because without your head on the block, without the fear of failure, you will not do those things that you don’t want to do, but that which you have to do in order to establish a new business.
Unfortunately, the advice was rejected. Two years later the friend gave up his business and got a job, the money spent.
Which led to Rob’s second story, which took place at the time when he set up his first business. Now, we all hate making sales calls, especially cold ones. Rob was no different, but he had to do it at the very beginning as he had no customers. He made a list of potential clients, and set a target to make forty calls every day.
So Rob sat himself down in his office and picked up the telephone with his right hand. Then with his left hand he took a roll of sellotape and wrapped it round and round his hand, binding it to the telephone. When it was good and tight, he began making the calls, unable to move away from the telephone until he’d made the forty calls, not even to go to the toilet. The faster he made those calls, the sooner he would be allowed to untie himself.
Rob repeated this for two weeks. At the end of that time he had enough clients and never had to make another cold call again.
I’m sure most people who own their own business have similar stories (you can see some of the other things people have done on the MD Bingo blog). I know I have – mine is the ‘dried toast’ story as that is all I could afford to eat at times in the first 6 months of setting up what became Ovation. That lack of a safety net is what drives you to keep going, to work late, to do the unpleasant things you don’t like doing.
There is a favourite phrase of mine (I like to think I invented it, but I suspect others would say they did) which is “If it were easy, everyone would do it.” Remember that the next time you have to do something you really don’t want to do.