Lindsay’s In Business: Part 16: YAY! We have a client

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

 So, one Friday afternoon, I got a call from a guy I happened to have been sitting next to on a flight to London a few weeks back. As we chatted, I discovered that he is the CEO of an agricultural business with projects in southern Europe and Africa, and I’d obviously told him about Mirror Mirror. He’d wanted a brochure, which I’d sent through afterwards.

Anyway, he was calling to say that his team in London were about to get some funding and embark on a growth phase. He wanted to set them up to succeed and thought Mirror Mirror would be a great way to do that.

I was clear that he’d be a ‘test’ client during Mirror Mirror’s early introduction stages and we discussed reduced rates for that.   He wanted to go ahead in March and we agreed I’d send a proposal so we could get it scheduled.

After that call, I was elated for about 5 days – really I actually felt a kind of warmth and a relief. Mirror Mirror had officially moved into the Beta Testing phase and it was SO GOOD to be able to say it was being actively piloted, rather than ‘still seeking’ it’s first client.

I was telling people who had supported me the good news, blocked the days off in my diary to run the interviews and write the report, and coordinated with the others on the Hogan assessment arrangements and the workshop date: March 21st. The agriculture organization confirmed the dates and I booked the flight to London. My mind started planning some extra questions to build into the interview for the purposes of evaluating the user experience.

In the meantime, I had another trip to London planned. I was bringing a new extended member of the team – Natali Drake – a writer and brand consultant I’d met locally in Delft who totally knows her stuff. She and I had been meeting now and then to put a brand and marketing plan together and it’s been amazing to have had this kind of support. What’s equally amazing is how difficult it is to think straight on these things when it’s your own business. I wanted to share Natali’s input with the team as well as continue meeting contacts and generating leads.

So, it was all happening up. She’d generated some great ideas and we had a plan that had layers of preparation and exposure culminating in LinkedIn advertising and other significant noises etc. in September. It would be quite demanding between now and then with all of the testing, design adaptions, business development and marketing. I’d also filed a Trademark application to protect the name Mirror Mirror.

Then last Wednesday, my test client contact called again. His team lead thought the timing wasn’t right – there was one brand new member of the team, another on maternity leave, and another company they’d recently merged with who had not yet fully integrated. I reassured him that Mirror Mirror was designed to help all of these different perspectives align – he said he’d talk to his manager and get back to me.

I was just so disappointed, even though technically we were in the same place as we were before he’d called out of the blue: looking for our first test client. But now the Mirror Mirror world seemed empty, except for expenditures and weaker hopes. I sat back to reflect. Was this a harder sell that I’d anticipated or was I just looking at things negatively? The answer to that ruminated uncomfortably.

Two days later, he called back again to confirm that he didn’t want to push it through, given the reservations of the Team Leader, but would rather go ahead in 3 – 6 months. Maybe he would, we’ll see.

I was professional about it – I stayed calm and said I understood – followed up with a letter. Noted to self that while Mirror Mirror was under consideration we’d really need to be speaking directly with the Team Leader to get their questions or concerns; and that maybe certain timing considerations needed to be thought out more deeply.

Luckily, I was managing to stretch and find bits of financing here and there to the point that I knew I had several more months to go before pressure from that side would be making things more difficult.

So back to the drawing board. And taking stock, reflecting on my own current reality.

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