Lindsay’s In Business: PART 80. Shiny new avenues

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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…

It’s 6.45am. I’m trying to meditate but my upset head keeps butting in. Normally I tune in to my senses after a yoga stretch and focus for 10 slow breaths. No thoughts. Just observing senses. Today I can’t get beyond 3. My anxious mind keeps trying to solve the discomfort that’s been creeping in over the past few days. Small things that people have said have brought doubts to the surface:

• In discussion about what kind of company will want to buy Mirror Mirror: “But how many companies are prepared to truly empower their people? Not that many.”

• As I look at the new reports coming out of our new software system I recall: “It’s only the very brave line managers who will want to look under the carpet to see what’s actually going on.”

• As I look at the website of someone competing in the same space and see their global footprint, the output of their well-funded marketing machines, a voice in my own head says: “What happens if Mirror Mirror starts getting a lot of business? What makes you think YOU’VE got the abilities to take it forward?”

It’s now 8.30am and the girls have just left for school. I’m feeling insecure and at my desk making a call to a friend who is happy to be a sounding board now and again. He used to work for McKinsey and now works for an investment firm. Very high- quality sounding board… “You need to get data,” he says. “Focus on what the buyers like – they’re your early adopter market. Just like how the lean feedback loops work, you need to ask your customers and facilitators key questions. How did Mirror Mirror help you? What would make it more helpful.” I take the advice. Gratefully of course, it’s fantastic input. I capture and diarise doing that – while knowing the numbers of people we’re talking about is small, that so much has changed about Mirror Mirror that the reference point keeps changing. But it’s still a great, objective reality check – ironically. But I’m still upset NOW, more conscious that the massive elephant on my desk has a big sign on it that reads ‘WHERE ARE ALL THE CLIENTS?’ God, after all this time – where is my faith I the potential of Mirror Mirror coming from. My biggest fear – being deluded – sits red hot by my side.

9.30 am and I call Anja. You know – Femflections founder Anja. She offers balanced, supportive and constructive coaching from a place of real experience. I’m having a coffee while talking with her, hearing the reassuring viewpoint that Mirror Mirror is just going to be a long journey because it’s such a new product. That what I’m experiencing is the journey of an entrepreneur and no, I’m not mad. As usual, she makes a link to more of her contacts. With these two helplines, I’m ok to take my next call.

It’s 10.00 and the call is scheduled with Mr Doe, let’s call him. He’s a long-time communications expert in the public sector, very well connected, exactly my target market. Maybe I should reschedule that call to when I’m on top form, but no. Having had a couple of very good conversations in the past, let’s hear what he has to say. Summarised, this was his response: “I’ve been thinking about Mirror Mirror. It’s exactly the kind of tool we need to plug a gap in the offerings to clients. Let’s pitch this to the executive board and run some trials with our clients. Give me a draft pitch pack and we’ll work on it together beforehand.” We spoke for an hour. What a fan.

And now … what do you think? YES! I’m up again!!! The upset has disappeared. Those doubts are a silly memory and I’m all fired up. Not because I think this guy is a silver bullet – and it may not happen with his agency of course – but his kind of reaction and the other reactions I get like that make sense. Get the offer right and Mirror Mirror has huge potential.

It’s 1.30pm and I’m on the phone to a good friend / business contact in Germany. It’s an advice call I set up in my state of unease the day before – not knowing who would be available to talk and when. Now I’m a bit worried I might be taking up her time unnecessarily. She’s in the US but insists we go ahead. We speak for 30 minutes. She helps me see things in context – ironically. Here’s the context: For the past 4 months I have focused on getting the business ready: software, positioning and strategy. I consciously let go of business development and now that we’re nearly ready to go, I am returning to the pipeline and staring in dismay at the lack of activity. So, of course, there’s no activity! We’re just starting on a revised strategy. I know why the last strategy didn’t get us the sales we were looking for. I’ve adapted the business model and here we are. She also said, “Sit with it. Sit with the doubts. Don’t fear them, they’re telling you something – and in this case it’s that you need to focus back on business development.” Wow – how profound – don’t push away a feeling because you are scared of it. It’s just a feeling. I am so privileged to be able to call up experienced, top class advisors for free at short notice. I spend the afternoon regrouping and getting on with it, ticking stuff off my list. This business model is so much clearer and more focused. The motivation and flow returns.

It’s 3.40 and the girls are back from school. It’s time to take a break see what’s for dinner. While doing that, I can’t help but reflect on all the other avenues I’ve been down that started out looking shiny but only led to brick walls:

• The agency in London right at the beginning that were going to partner up but didn’t want to sell – I don’t blame them now!

• Approaching the BIG Four and other such players, thinking they’d lap up an idea like this – but getting no response

• Targeting agile – only to find Mirror Mirror is a great complimentary offering but isn’t yet something that agile coaches see as being in scope for them and their work

• Seeing Mirror Mirror could be offered as a training programme, and getting on the portfolio of a huge training provider, but not getting much interest (yet) – perhaps because they’ve priced it out of the market?

• Targeting merger and acquisitions – only to learn that the decision makers in these deals don’t care about alignment – they don’t spend on this stuff

• And the countless other clients / consultancies who have promised shiny door openings – I can think of 5 immediately – and you get part way down the path and then they just don’t return calls or mails.

I don’t regret going after those avenues because of all the learnings they provided. Yet I hope this current track isn’t another false start. Again, I check the logic. Yes, this direction makes sense. I’m still in the game. Then a friend of mine sends me a newsletter from James Clear. He writes weekly with 3 ideas, 2 messages and one question. The first idea is this: To improve, compare little things. -marketing strategies -exercise technique -writing tactics To be miserable, compare big things. -career path -marriage -net worth Comparison is the thief of joy when applied broadly, but the teacher of skills when applied narrowly. Hail all generous advisors! Thank you!

Mirror Mirror is a tool that identifies, measures and addresses the alignment gaps that drag down performance.

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