It's all in your audience! This couldn't be truer after my recent experience.
It's no easy task starting your own little company and it's even more daunting when you've been in a corporate environment for 15 years and get so used to your daily routine, the daily checks and balances that someone else in the corporate world has thought up and that you are obliged to do with no 'if''...'but' or otherwise!
Without realising it, you surround yourself with plenty of other 'like-minded' individuals whose company you thoroughly enjoy and it's the mere fact that you all just 'get' each other because you understand your corporate environment, that gives you a common ground and provides an automatic background check. You all laugh at similar jokes, and a play on internal corporate wording can often have everyone in hysteric's whilst the innocent, non-corporate bystander, tries not to let the fact that they haven't a clue what you're all on about, register on their face.
My wake up call came when I left that corporate environment and found myself in a new world where my new colleagues, aware of my dream and so enthusiastic and supportive, couldn't relate to these subtle little 'inside' jokes... after all, how could they. What never ever entered my brain was the fact that my past colleagues and friends wouldn't appreciate my dream of owning my own gift wrapping business! When relating my dream and my small achievements to date to my dear past colleagues and friends, their luke warm enthusiasm and disinterest in delving further when I subtly dropped the fact that I'd started my own business, into the conversation, left me wondering whether I'd lost the plot or read the market in-correctly!
One of the main reasons for me moving out of the corporate world was to get a taste of the SME life and to learn how to weather the challenging tides of business. All in preparation of knowing what to expect when I launched myself out of the proverbial nest. The jittery feeling of finally creating my company Facebook page and actually setting it loose on the world, to whomever might be interested, is something I will never forget. When I clicked on the 'Share' button, I repeatedly checked my FB page in anticipation of all my past colleagues rushing to 'Like' my page! My philosophy being that for every 1 person who 'Likes' your page, they could be exposing it to 10 more new potential contacts. More than 2 months later and with only 11 Likes at the time, I realised that my audience was clearly very wrong. And how could I blame them! I understand that world so well, the pressure is so immense, my past colleagues don't have the time to browse Facebook pages and scour through Blogs. They don't mean to appear to be disinterested in my little business, but it's honestly just not their thing! They weren't my intended audience but as they were all I knew, they were my starting point. I realised that I needed to go back to the drawing board and find new avenues!
This first breakaway was the I Heart Market. That's where I realised that all these wonderfully creative woman had their own Blogs and I thought to myself...hmmm...I must get me one of those! Next, I looked at the product at the market and the type of clientele it attracted. This was where I needed to be! And so it started...my journey to break out of my corporate mould, change the way I think, infact, change the person I've become, and embrace a whole new life of different perspectives, and different people. HOW LIBERATING!!
Having met with so much polite interest and a couple of comments like "why spend money on wrapping paper when you just tear it off?", I was caught completely off-guard two nights ago when, at a new friends Kitchen Tea, and surrounded by a group of women I knew nothing about, I heard exclaimations over how wonderfully my gifts were wrapped and please could I teach them! At the mention that I would be running gift wrapping courses, I had 3 requests to please attend Bookclubs to teach their groups how to wrap! I have always prided myself in my utter honesty but after stuttering out that I wasn't quite ready to present my first Gift Wrap course by Monday night...yes, that's right now...tonight... I couldn't help wondering if I shouldn't have made up a more exotic excuse like, I'm actually all booked up for the next month, how would June suit you! And can you believe it, as luck would have it, I'd changed handbags and didn't even have my business cards with me!
It's amazing how inadequate you feel when you can't confidently say that you've presented 10 Gift Wrap courses already. But! To be true to myself! I am sticking to my 'Go-Live' date (to coin a term from my IT career) of the beginning of July. I have a few dry run's booked before then, so when I am officially ready to launch my courses, they are going to be fabulous! So if you're interested, but can be patient, watch this space and don't forget about me! We all have to start somewhere and I've already taken more than my fair share of giant leaps! Now that I have finally figured out who my audience is and where to find you, it's only a matter of dropping me an email before we all sit around a table with a glass of wine, much laughter and tons of ribbon and paper as I teach you how to break away from your comfort zone, expand your horizons and maybe take a few risks, just as I have done over the past few months.
I promise you, you won't regret it!