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When I was asked to be a panellist at the Secrets of our Success B31 Ballarat Business Month event hosted by Commerce Ballarat yesterday I wondered what secrets I possibly had to share with others to assist them on their business journey. Sharing the stage with two other inspiring business owners, Jamie Sleep from Sleep’s Plumbing and Rachel Sheehan from Studio G.A.S we each shared our experiences and learnings. Coming from three very different backgrounds and operating businesses in three very different sectors there was however some common themes in the secrets we shared. One thing was very clear; we all love what we do.
In preparing for the event I spent a lot of time reflecting on the last five years (where did those years go!) and what has worked and what hasn’t. It also made me realise that no matter what you never stop learning. And as I sat there yesterday listening to Jamie and Rachel share their secrets I too took away learnings from their secrets.
Here’s what got me thinking and reflecting:
Stepping outside your comfort zone
Jamie shared a story about pushing himself to step outside his comfort zone by attending networking events to meet people and build relationships. Running a business is all about stepping outside your comfort zone, nearly every day something crops up that forces me to step outside my comfort zone. From a difficult conversation with a candidate or client, providing feedback to a team member, learning a new skill in managing the business, taking another new risk on what seems like a bright idea, getting comfortable with being ready to step outside your comfort zone is critical. Jamie’s story was a nice reminder that to keep growing, innovating, learning and improving we all need to push ourselves to step outside our comfort zone.
Rachel has achieved great success through being unique. She’s created a thriving retail business offering an array of clothing, footwear, jewellery and homeware products. She has a café in store, mannequins with names (how cool!) and she sells artwork and wooden toys made by family members with all proceeds of those products being donated to MS. What other retail business do you know that has that uniqueness? Call it what you will – uniqueness – point of difference – value proposition. Rachel also shared her vision for the future of her business and watch this space because there is plenty more uniqueness to come! Her secret was a nice reminder of the importance to keep positioning yourself as unique. You can’t rest on your laurels, you have to keep innovating and coming up with new points of difference.
Advertising vs Networking
Jamie’s story about investing a large amount of money in a yellow pages advert that he thought would have the phone ringing off the hook but didn’t, really resonated with me. I have invested a lot of time in attending networking events to build the brand of the business over the years and it has been one of the most successful ways I have been able to grow Inspire HQ. Jamie’s secret was a nice little reminder that it’s all about people; meeting people, having conversations and connecting. It’s not taking out expensive adverts in print that will grow your business. Different advertising channels have had different success for each of us. Rachel has had great success from radio and TV (appearing on Postcards is a pretty awesome claim to fame!) and we have all had success from social media. I think at the end of the day it’s all about knowing and understanding your target market and where and how you need to engage with them.
Thank you to Commerce Ballarat for hosting such a great event. I love learning about the amazing things other businesses are doing right here in Ballarat and to get a “behind the scenes” feel for a business is not an opportunity that comes up every day. There is so much we can learn from each other. Here comes my unashamed plug for Commerce Ballarat; if you are not a member, you should be. Jamie, Rachel and I all spoke highly of the benefits of being a Commerce Ballarat member. The membership fee will be an investment well spent with the opportunity to network with other like-minded business professionals plus the many other benefits that Commerce Ballarat offer.
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Angela Connor is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource and career coaching companies. She understands the significance of having the right team of people in a business and is passionate about helping business to attract, recruit and engage the right people so those people can inject their talents into the business; creating an environment where they can do great work and love what they do. Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au or by following Angela on LinkedIn.