Tag Archives: Women in Business

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 70: We have lift off

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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…

What a high – I feel as if we’re lifting off!  A big part of the boost is working as an associate of this consultancy in London with my mate Mr. P.  He’s just GREAT.

Meeting in London last Tuesday.  Insurance company.  Our contact there is a personal friend of Mr. P.  Within an hour, the guy is sold and wants to send our pitch up to his HR Director. Apparently, the timing is perfect, the company motto is ‘People First’, and they’re going through lots of changes that need some kind of support. It fits.  I’m heartened.

We walk down the road to a café.  Mr. P gets a sandwich. I grab some soup.

Next up is a well-established training company.  Again, our guy there is a personal contact of Mr. P.  Within an hour, him and the Director of Learning he brought along to the meeting with him are sold.  Apparently, the timing is perfect because they recently launched a ‘team productivity’ training programme and it flopped. They need something in its place right now.  Mirror Mirror slots straight in.  I never thought of it as a training programme before, but people going through Mirror Mirror learn how to be more effective together.  Wow.  Next steps, I write the training materials, Mr. P organizes the contract.  It fits. Again. I’m ecstatic.

Mr. P goes back to his office.

And to finish the afternoon, is an appointment I’d set up for myself. They’re a huge start-up out of San Francisco who basically run an app that delivers targeted content to employees and gathers employee feedback data.  I’m thinking they could do with something extra that adds 5 levels of sophistication to this transactional feedback loop, right?

The European Manager took an interest.  Could lead somewhere…  somewhere big.

I did get a bit neurotic about that appointment a few days in advance, to be honest.  It is the kind of situation where they could buy a ditty-bitty like Mirror Mirror up, if they liked it.

What scared me is that I could feel in my heart of hearts that I’d have to accept if the offer was half-decent.  Why? Because as much as I love Mirror Mirror, I’ve had three years of scrabbling around trying to sell it with NO funding, NO organized marketing, NO pre-established brand or credibility, and NO big product all figured out, like the guy from the San Francisco app had when he started selling his app in Europe.

But it’s amazing how two good sales meetings can turn one’s confidence.  Now I’m all cool.  I’m just fine as I am. I’d have to think about an offer.

Now, if this training company and their endless contact list gets going, I need to prepare myself:

  • To turn my little one-man-band into an established, incorporated company
  • Completion of our Tableau-based reporting tool
  • Some trained delivery agents
  • A pretty good administration system to make sure all the contracts and invoices are properly processed.

And that’s what I’m going to spend the summer on. People are starting to buy. WOW!!!!!!!!

Mirror MirrorWe identify and close alignment gaps between people in organizations to improve engagement and performance.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

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Lindsay’s In Business: PART 66: Targeting evolution

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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 seems like we’ve been going around and around on this since we started.

Correction. We havebeen going around and around on this since we started.

TARGETING.

Here’s a bit of pre-amble before I get on to this topic about a development from last month.

I’m happily partnered with an oil and gas consultancy based in London who see that great projects need effective people.  They are happy to explore diversification into this area with Mirror Mirror.  It’s so nice to have that collaboration going on. It’s like dating for ages after being single!

Anyway, we’re now talking to a couple of big companies, connecting Mirror Mirror to their business needs (and budgets), namely Quality and HSE.  Both are a priority, and both relate to communication, behaviours and shared cognition.

Specifically, on Quality, ISO 9001is a standard that certifies companies for quality. The latest update includes these components:

 “Improve Engagement of PeopleThe new standard clearly states the need for all people to be competent, empowered, and engaged in delivering value. Organizations are expected to enhance employee communication, provide better clarity on job expectations, find ways to motivate employees to contribute to organizational success, capture regular feedback, and facilitate a dialog with supervisors to help employees achieve their growth plan.”

Enhance Leadership Involvement: Unlike the earlier ISO 9001 standard, the revised version emphasizes leadership involvement in quality management. The leadership team is expected to be highly committed to strengthening the outcome of the quality management program. They need to ensure that every business unit within the organization understands and accepts the changes brought about by the new standard to ensure a unified commitment to quality.”

Mirror Mirror fits completely – what a great angle! If we win some work there, we can start talking to other people in Quality – and they would be our targets. And we are only able to think along these lines now that we have real conversations with potential clients happening around them.

Now back to targeting.

A contact of mine once said that targeting is like folding a sheet of A4 paper. Write out who you think your product / service is aimed at, starting with the whole world.  Fold the paper in half.  Write out the sentence again but be more specific.  Fold again.  Repeat until the paper is tiny.

The theory is that if you have razor sharp targeting, your can direct your marketing activities there and will be more likely to get a response.

This is how my first attempt looked about a year ago:

1.     The whole world
2.     Teams in organizations
3.     Who want to improve performance / implementation
4.     And are forward thinking / open to new ideas
5.     And going through change
6.     Who speak English as a working language
7.     And are based in Western Europe
8.     And want more help with the people side

 

My contact told me that was still WAY too general.  I can see that now.  That’s a very big target group.  But I was stuck.  And I felt bad about that, because if he’s right, my inability to target was blocking the progress of my precious business.

A stubborn question kept me from moving forward: how do you hone a target for your sales efforts when your means to new business only comes from networking, which in itself is quite random?

And then I met Patricia.  A marketing freelancer, who within one hour taught me that HOW you market is the difference between success and failure.  She said if you market on a relationship-led basis, you can’t help but target because there are only so many relationships you can develop at once.

I explained my activities: I was networking, doing social media work, some conferences and articles.  “Yes”, she said. “I’m sure that’s right, but let’s look at HOW you are doing that.”

On a small budget, online networking – from a relationship development perspective – would look like inviting 1-1 connections on LinkedIn.  Perhaps contacting them once a week, with very short notes, links to things they might find interesting.  Not selling, just being kind. And then eventually asking if they’d like to meet.

And the next area – social media work.  Yes great.  But, as Patricia explained, let’s look at HOW I’m using these. Twitter isn’t what it was 5 years ago. It’s not so effective. LinkedIn is my channel.

Write articles, post, recycle, share the links with those NEW relationships that I’m building.  Get profile at conferences that link up. Test different content, see what gets the most clicks.

Towards the end, Patricia commented that it was good to meet with me in person because then she can understand how I think.  She said I’m a structured person.

Very structured. I know this.

So structured in fact, that I have been operating like a robot. Lists, tick, efficiency, straight to the point – WHERE WAS THE ADAPTABILITY, WHERE WAS THE SENSITIVITY AND THE SOCIAL MATURITY???!  I could kick myself.  Honestly. At this age, I should know better.

I’d need to use my judgement to gauge reactions and determine which people and situations are most receptive to Mirror Mirror.  And herein lies the problem. This for me is very difficult. I totally trust my experience and intuition that anyone in a complex situation can benefit from Mirror Mirror – if they’re open to it.  Seeing that that individual people who don’t recognise the need could represent the reaction of whole market areas, doesn’t make sense to me. Whether you see the need for Mirror Mirror or not is an emotional rather than a factual response.  It’s about them, not the whole market, surely.

But not everyone is a completely independent, challenging thinker like me. As Patricia explained, there are trends, people / roles / industries / cultures that will be more receptive to Mirror Mirror than others.  No matter how ambiguous that might seem, you need to spot the trends and hone-in on the most likely buyers.

So again, who is my target?

We already know that the business is coming to the point where we have identified certain business objectives (and budgets) that give us a ‘hook’ and a need. These are HSE, quality, the agile mindset, strategic communications, and performance in general.

Patricia brought up the situation of the new manager. Wouldn’t this be a great way to onboard?  OK so we added onboarding to the list.

“Who do you want to work for?” she asked.

Reluctantly, I became specific by saying “Large organizations, because that’s where the budgets are.”

“OK”, she said. “And if you went into an organization like that to do one team, which of your business objectives fits the best?  You have to go in step by step to build trust.”

Admittedly, going in to approach strategic communication with Mirror Mirror is more of an end-game because it would be so disruptive.  We’d have to build up to that point over years.  So that was out.  And the generic ‘performance’ piece is too broad.  So even though those two business cases were the basis on which Mirror Mirror was designed, we are left with HSE, quality, agile and onboarding. And the managers / leaders of those, who would be the buyers.

Immediately my targeting becomes clearer.  I don’t need to be so precious.

1.     The whole world
2.     Leaders and managers of teams
3.     In large organizations
4.     Based in English speaking Western Europe
5.     Who want to achieve better safety / quality / agility / onboarding
6.     And are forward thinking / open to new ideas
7.     And are under pressure to get better results
8.     And interested in developing relationships with external suppliers.

I will design a structured  – and socially sensitive plan – to test that target group and hopefully get sales in the process. Even if sales is 25% about targeting, 25% about story / pitch, 25% about credibility, and 25% about timing, every detail counts.

Mirror Mirror – … because a collective focus, with each team at the centre, drives performance.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 65: Getting the whole experience right

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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…

There’s one café in the town I live in that is just packed.  Several other café’s in the same street look embarrassed being so empty in comparison. It’s called Kek and I usually avoid it because I don’t like busy places. But last week, a friend texted me to suggest we meet up there and it was too late to try changing venues by the time I got the message.

She was already there when I arrived, and it looked like the chair opposite her was the last one available in the whole cafe.  It was bustling and I tried not to bristle with hostility for the lack of space.

Over the following half-hour I didn’t realise how much the experience there had seduced me: it was such a subtle transition. The service was impeccable, the delivery was prompt, the coffee was presented with care and tasted great, the ambiance was warm and relaxing, the décor was fascinatingly homely – with that kind of bohemian, natural mix-and-match look, without looking overdone or pretentious. The music was funky and not too loud.

There’s actually a sign they have to use at the front door informing people how to queue without getting in the way of the cyclists outside – it’s that popular.

They’ve got it ALL RIGHT.  All of it. Every aspect. It’s an inspiration.  And that’s where I’m going with Mirror Mirror now.

I delivered a workshop for a small consultancy in London last week.  I know one of the guys there – he’s fantastic – very professional (another inspiration) and he’s helped get me in to this consultancy to help their team as well as to show them how it works so they can offer it to their clients.  We’ve already been working hard to submit 3 proposals to their clients, which is exciting.

My consultancy contact loved the Mirror Mirror report and workshop – he’s such a fan. Afterwards, he said

“Why don’t you print the report on thicker paper, add a field ‘Your Name’ and some spaces for notes, so that people in workshops can make it their own?  You could put it in a proper binder so it looks like something they want to keep.”

So cool.

We are starting to hone every aspect of the user experience.  Our last customer told me they loved how we customised our process to suit them. Right now, I’m on a train to Cologne for a workshop to set up our first database.  With this we’ll be more able to add / change questions and their phraseology. And we are starting to gather enough benchmark data that we’ll be able to include comparison stats in our reports.

The report we issued for the consulting organization earlier this week included ‘error bars’, which shows the average score per item as well as what the highest and lowest scores are.  This is very important detail when you want to know where the team is already aligned. I can’t tell you how long it took to pull that together – and it seemed to be one of those problems that seems to be difficult even though there was always some kind of reason why it didn’t happen – but we kept going with it and will never go back.

My ‘chat’ / pitch is getting much better after so much practice.  I’m constantly updating our customer facing materials as the explanation improves.

One of the clients we are pitching too loved the slides we sent him before a meeting so much that we didn’t need to go through them at all – they had already accelerated our conversation.

Amazingly, I’m getting compliments on how I’m doing as a facilitator and feel ready to facilitate any group, no matter how senior.  It’s moving forward.

I did have a bit of a dip last week as 3 possibilities I had been chasing last year fell through (budget / priorities / other) but that was then.

Yesterday I submitted another proposal to a global foods organization I’ve been courting for a while – and got on well with my contact there when we finally got to meet on my last London trip.

I do get feedback that the global consultancies already have offerings like this. But that’s where I can compete. They wrap it up in months-long consultancy packages.  Mirror Mirror is a lean intervention and clients seem to be very happy.  That’s what I’m working on.

Someone indicated that they thought my progress hadn’t been that fast after 2 years of having the product on the market.  A while back, that thought would have hurt.  These days, I just disagree.  Sod what they think.

This isn’t just a consultancy offering it’s a proprietary process in constant development.  Areas on my list to progress are legal and financial. I’m outsourcing jobs on graphic design, data management, platform development and marketing.  I’m doing business development, working up delivery partners, building up my knowledge in multiple disciplines, talking to universities about research proposals, and the list goes on.  I’m fully busy and not for the sake of it, I don’t think!

Now I’m going to do things at a pace that makes sense.  I have the luxury of the family loan I got at the end of last year to do that.  I spend wisely, work hard, and I’m aiming to be the best.

Mirror Mirror – … because a collective focus, with each team at the centre, drives performance.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

Challenge yourself

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No matter what you do, you need to challenge yourself. People often take the easy way because it involves less work. The only way to become better at anything is by accepting challenges and trying to conquer them. You become a stronger and better person when you are forced to work hard to get something. In addition, the reward seems even sweeter when you’ve worked extremely hard and overcame obstacles to reach your goal.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

 

Be the best you can be

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No matter what you do, you should do it to the best of your ability. You should set goals and work as hard as you can to reach these goals. I measure success by how much effort I have put forth, not by other’s people assessment of my accomplishments. If I have tried as hard as I can, then I am a success, no matter what the result of my endeavor.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 64: We are beginning to see patterns

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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 fascinating to discover that now, having some good experience, we are starting to see a pattern with the outcomes of Mirror Mirror. Having taken a step back over Xmas, a pattern is emerging. There usually is a core alignment issue at play within organizations that blocks effectiveness.  If you can spot that issue and start to unravel it, as we do, then other linked issues fall away. This means that while it can feel as if there are multiple problems going on that are difficult to track down and deal with, it may not be so chaotic.

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Lindsay’s In Business: PART 62: Momentum and Learning

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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…

The Netherlands

On Friday 14 December, we discovered that some reports we had produced for an EU organization in Berlin were incorrect.  The reports were out of our normal scope, and created at the client’s request, for 15 managers based on ratings given to these four statements by people in their teams:

  • My manager sets clear goals and objectives
  • My manager is available to help with problems
  • My manager initiates discussions on progress
  • My manager provides feedback and direction as needed

This is part of a section of our work that looks at factors of team effectiveness that are mainly outside of the control of the team members themselves.

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