Monthly Archives: August 2020

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 100. Whoa!

marketing school business idea

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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…

Things are taking a turn:

  • Well-connected contact at a communications consultancy in London is putting MM forward as a tool for their clients
  • Head of Comms at a large international company based in Zurich is enthusiastic and keen to move forward after the summer
  • VP HR at Global electronics company is looking for new stuff like this and says it sounds promising – on the radar
  • Network member put a MM pitch to a global hardware company
  • New network member in India wants to be the ‘gateway to India’ for Mirror Mirror – running training and client approaches – let’s see where that goes
  • Now working up a pitch with some local partners for a very large Dutch government tender opportunity – huge piece of work on ‘Strategic Alignment’
  • Two new Full Picture jobs in Indonesia with a new network member currently in progress
  • Established consultancy based in the Middle East very keen and booked 2 consultants on our next training
  • Initial interest from a global software company to pair this with their collaboration platform – second meeting set up next week.

All getting interesting…

Mirror Mirror aligns people in teams to pull together and deliver on your strategy.  The process adds clarity and ownership and takes out cost and risk. 

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 99. Everything leads back to sales

think outside of the box

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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…

A fantastic podcast series from Richard Atherton’s Being Human is keeping my brain engaged during the 20-minute exercise routine I do every morning.

His guests talk about business, mental health, and all things human.  Yesterday’s guest was from a guy in the US, talking about his successful start-up.  Prepared to feel jealous, I clicked to listen, wondering if there was anything new or any reminders about things I’ve forgotten about that might help me on my journey.

He spoke about the 3 essentials – a great idea, great people, and capital to get moving.

  • I have the great idea
  • I’m building that team:
    • Miss X as Product Development and Quality Control
    • A software development company and a reporting freelancer
    • A communications freelancer
    • A business development freelancer
    • An advisory board
    • There’s an update on the Operations Manager role in a minute
  • And I have minimal capital.

Is the lack of capital undermining me?  Experience tells me that you need to prove the idea, with a history of sales and a pipeline of promise to attract funding.  But that even if you do get funding – and trade it off for the sacrifices in ownership and freedom that may bring – it’s not always a MUST HAVE.  In other words, even if it was needed, I wouldn’t be able to access it yet.

Let’s review that later.

Today, I took my first trip out of Delft since the ‘intelligent’ lockdown here in NL and went up to Amsterdam to see Anja for lunch.  Several scribbles from a good and progressive conversation later and I’ve got some tangible steps and names of people to contact.  Thanks to Anja for great support!

This summer, I’m going to combine relationship building, with PR, and sales efforts to plant seeds while the market moves into more of a state of readiness for the kind of alignment services we offer.

2021 will the start of big capitalization for Mirror Mirror – product sales, case studies, investment and at long last a damned INCOME.

My husband is starting to get really frustrated that we’re so broke all the time.  He’s still supportive, not least because it was always me earning the most income for the first 15 years of our relationship.  Things are the way they are.  It’s just taking time.

But I still need to be ready.  If 3 clients came along at once with multiple team jobs, we’d need to be SUPER ready to deliver.  I need a committed, competent and energetic team around me  – which is why I made the decision to let go of my Operations Manager.  I’m reluctant to even put this in writing – it was such a difficult decision.  But I know it was the right one.

As someone who came back from 15 years of being out of the workplace, her attitude, approach and readiness just wasn’t there.  There’s a lot to be said for staying in the workplace while you raise children, if you can; to protect your own identity, resilience and work prospects for the long term.

We exchanged notes on ‘how things are going’ using a pre-set document format for the half year review.  It was clear when comparing the two that the differences weren’t compatible.

Very Mirror Mirror, as an approach.  I’m glad we did it.

She’s upset, we’re both disappointed, and I’ve changed my view on what the role entails – it’s basically administration.  I looked up alternative resources on a paid basis via www.upwork.com and found some excellent virtual support staff for a great rate.   I’ve interviewed one already and will offer her 10 hours a week from July 01.  She can take a month or two to familiarise.   Perhaps when we’re busier I’ll have 2 people in this role to cover for each other and take a flexible workload.

Paying people direct means that I don’t owe anyone commissions or profit shares.  I just need to attract more sales to keep building it all up.

And we’ve got some good interest and have produced 3 great new case studies from work done so far this year to inspire confidence.

Mirror Mirror – a team alignment diagnostic tool and process in one, helping people align to the strategy, as well as each other.

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 98. This is the hustle

hustle led signage

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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…

One by one contacting network members to mobilise collaboration

One by one reconnecting with contacts in my pipeline

One by one prying into opportunities for the next case study

This is the hustle.

Our work can fit the leadership engagement budget

It can fit into a change management budget

A team development, or even a training budget

This is the hustle.

Network members can provide names of potential buyers we can contact who they don’t know

They can use people they have a good relationship with to influence the buyer

They can provide leads without being attributed as the source

This is the hustle.

Don’t see it that people are obliged – keep the goodwill

Don’t get impatient, keep reaching out for new feedback

Don’t get disheartened, after all this time

This is the hustle.

If someone were to describe what the journey to building up a business like this would look like, this would be it.

It’s only in January of this year that we started training up a network of practitioners in earnest.  In March, COVID-19 threw the world into a crisis.  This is a difficult because people are preoccupied, budgets are being cut, and a recession is underway.  And it’s opportunistic because misalignment is everywhere, people are looking for new, remote ways to do things, and Mirror Mirror is ready to go.

This is the hustle.

Mirror Mirror – a team alignment diagnostic tool and process in one, helping people align to the strategy, as well as each other.

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 97. A Staircase Emerges

contemporary gradient handrails perspective

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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…

I’m walking in the woods.  It’s warm with a cool breeze. Green has sprung up all around.  A great place to percolate, to let questions find answers in the back of your mind.

Last month, there was a bird who would hop around on the grass outside our kitchen window.  It would pick up a small twig and fly away with it to strengthen its nest.

I look back on the efforts I used to make, travelling to London and many other places, meeting for coffees with endless contacts, looking for anything that would help – some advice, insights, another contact, encouragement. Bit by bit it was all essential, bit by bit.  And cannot thank those people enough for spending their time to help me.  It all seems like so long ago now.

I too was gathering twigs and tiny bits of moss – but I’m not building a small nest, I’m building a castle.  The good news is that these days it is taking far less work to build each step that it used to.

  • I used to make a note of all the people I was expecting to get back to me so I could prompt them if they didn’t do it.Now if they don’t get back to me, it’s not so important.
  • I used to work hard selling Mirror Mirror to practitioners. Now they’re registering themselves to my training sessions via word of mouth referrals.
  • I used to go looking for relevant people to approach on LinkedIn. Now I see that as cold calling – it’s not usually welcome and it gets a very low rate of return.

Now I feel like the castle is still just a design, but now it has strong foundations.  The central staircase that I’m building, will lead to the rooms, the walls, and to the battlement on top. Each step that is being created is real, bigger, more solid and takes less effort than the one before.

Yesterday, I held a network call, inviting the now 104-strong trained practitioners who are all still new at the Mirror Mirror game. It’s like a hub and spoke model, they’re not really connecting with each other but most are keen, they’re connected through me, and I’m announcing all the new resources that have been set up to help them get going:

  • The new business development team who with some basic lead information can get them sales appointments
  • The new communications director who is devising a calendar of marketing content to augment the profile and credibility of Mirror Mirror and its network of practitioners
  • New proposal templates, a new case study, an FAQ document, a Network Directory they can complete that will enable them to connect with each other and will be published to our website…

It feels good. Great actually. I’ve been able to immerse in work getting all this set up while my husband is still out of a job. He’s been looking after the girls’ home schooling and running the household alongside my 12 hour days. He’s not happy about it but it’s really been very useful.  My productivity has really been at a peak.

After the call there’s some complimentary feedback.  The next day I spend a couple of hours proudly following up with a mailchimp bulletin to the network, including links to a recording of the call and all the resources.  I have created and climbed another big fat step.

I smile, hands on my hips, looking with satisfaction at this castle as it starts to take shape.

But then, the next morning, I wake up realising that while everything I’ve set up is all well and good, people are not jumping to action: filling in new lead spreadsheets and finding demo teams to practice on.

A twinge of loneliness, and frustration. Goddamnit, I need some reciprocation here guys!

And that’s the next step – I’m going to pay all my attention to those top 25 crusaders who are getting active and support them.  I know who they are already…

Mirror Mirror – a team alignment diagnostic tool and process in one, helping people align to the strategy, as well as each other.

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 96. This bubble of a business is about to BURST!

beautiful boat daylight foggy

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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 April 30, 2020 and the whole world is facing up to the fact that COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon. As a result of the lockdown, many businesses are not surviving. Millions of workers continue amongst a chaotic remote work life balance. And demand has changed, buying behaviours have changed, and attitudes have changed. Companies everywhere are updating their strategies to accommodate. Misalignment is everywhere.

We now have 91 trained expert practitioners in our network and another 15 are scheduled in the coming 2 weeks.  But most are not salespeople. They’ve read the documents and are ‘accredited’ but say they feel Mirror Mirror is still all theory: they need a first delivery experience.

They have been resourced them with nearly everything I can give and all the while the clock is ticking – I’m conscious that momentum is key. They’re not going to keep connected if it doesn’t start moving…

My (informal) Advisory Board says:

“Focus on sales.  Stay close to the active network members, ignore the others.  Help them get going. Feed your sales funnel.”

I agree.  Everything I can drop that is non-sales related I will.  But the sales funnel. I’m grappling with that.  If it’s all these things – where do I draw the line?

An experienced network member and long-time friend of mine, based in the US, came up with some interesting ideas during the last network meeting.  I call him. We talk. He mentions a business development guy he knows.  My ears prick up.

“What does he do?” I ask.

“We worked with him in the past.  He’s amazing.  He’s just really good at opening doors.  Works B2B generating leads.”

“Sounds expensive.” I’m immediately interested.  What we need now is opportunity.

“Yeah, he works out your targets with you, gets into the product, calls up those companies and gets you meetings.“

WOW.

We get connected on LinkedIn.

An immediate phone call and I love the approach (he’s a sales guy after all).  But how much?  With the one sale I already made this year, it’s affordable.  We agree a 3-month trial.  The timing couldn’t be better. I am expecting a major ROI.  How exciting!!

A huge sigh of relief.  The pressure to generate new leads isn’t just with me.  Even though our trained practitioners were supposed to be our route to market, that’ll take some time. It feels like a weak part of the business just got stronger. And if we own the contracts, we can subcontract the work and make more money – WHICH WE NEED.

While we’re looking at weak parts of the business, there’s one more area I’d like to strengthen.

It’s about marketing communications – I’d always had this uneasy feeling that my efforts were a bit random, a bit patch.  Building awareness, profile and credibility needs to be strategic, targeted.  Wouldn’t it be great if the targeted approach to business development was complemented by the right marketing communications?

For a long time now I’d been trying to get another contact and good friend of mine involved in the business on marketing communications.  He’s got an MBA, he’s an ex-political campaigner, an excellent content strategist, and he knows how it all works.

And right now, like many other freelancers – he’s out of work.  He knows my budget and we met up to talk.  He drops his rates considerably and I basically take him for 5 hours a week straight away.  I’ve managed the business bank balance very carefully but now is the time to put the cash to work.

And those two glaring holes in my carefully crafted bubble of a business – that is just ready to BURST – have concrete resources assigned to fill them as I sign 2 contracts: both starting 1 May, both with a 3-month review.

Elation. I’ve been trying so hard to be those expert people for so long – and now I can hand it over for someone else to own.  I don’t have to be good at everything – I just have to coordinate towards the vision.  I can do that.

So Mirror Mirror – are you for real now – is this ship finally going to sail?

Mirror Mirror – a team alignment diagnostic tool and process in one, helping people align to the strategy, as well as each other.

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 95. Energise the network

ferris wheel at night

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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…

Here we are, working the plan.  Training network members, getting case studies… training network members, getting case studies…

The progress is that I now have 83 facilitators trained and 23 more registered for training in the coming 4 weeks.  We have 10 proposals via facilitators underway (5 via 1 person).  Not bad, but I need ACTIVE jobs.

I can only think that with the global COVID-19 crisis, many teams are not stable enough to get into ‘alignment’.  All I can do is energise the network.  And here’s how I’m doing that.

Note sent to network members last week:

Dear All – I hope you’re keeping safe and well.

There’s a lot going on!  So, here’s a heads up before Wednesday’s network call…

Our network now has 80 expert practitioners in 11 countries and 20 more to follow next month.  We have some great client feedback from runs of Mirror Mirror so far this year, and there are several new client proposals underway.

A meeting request for Wednesday’s network call was sent out to you last week.  The plan for that call is to interact around this question: How can we use our collective contacts, capabilities and experience to be stronger together?

I’ll also share some essential updates as below (see attached slide pack for details):

  • New product:  Snapshot – free automated demo for clients
  • New pricing: 3 tier fees and special offer 2020
  • Clarification: Network involvement – including links to shared folders
  • New / updated slide decks: (attached and available in your shared folder)  
    • Quantifying Perception – for those clients who want more
    • The Cost of Misalignment – hypothetical model to put some numbers to it all
    • Mirror Mirror Differentiation – more detail on how we stack up against other interventions
  • New: Cut ‘n paste intro messages – see below (also available in your shared folder). 

If you can’t make the call, I’ll forward a summary afterwards. 

Look forward to connecting soon!

Kind regards

Lindsay

And here’s a quote from Joan Riviere:

“We tend to think of any one individual in isolation; it is a convenient fiction…. There is no such thing as a single human being, pure and simple, unmixed with other human beings.” 

Mirror Mirror – a team alignment diagnostic tool and process in one, helping people align to the strategy, as well as each other.