There are many reasons to start a business. To make money. To create something. To impact people’s lives. Or because working for other people may seem dull and unfulfilling.
However, the reasons people stay or are successful in business may change as they progress along their journey. They have with me.
When I set up a company in 2006, I wanted to run a graphic design business and make money. Now I’m more interested in communicating, helping businesses and making a difference in people’s lives.
I still want to make money! But my plans for my company and my business life are very different now.
What has caused this change? You!
I found out a long time ago that blogging for business was a great idea. This has created a fantastic platform of communication. I can help people via the blog and I also always get asked questions by people who contact me personally. And, in doing this, I have received a great business education from the visitors to this site.
There is a powerful virtuous circle that you can use to your advantage.
The more people you help. The more people know you. The more people ask you questions about their business. The more you understand about business needs.
The more you understand about what businesses want and need; the better your company will be at servicing these needs.
Sometimes students ask me for advice about what to study (asking me about studying, that’s a joke!) or how to start a design business.
You may think somebody starting out on their business journey can not teach us much. Also, my advice may fall on deaf ears. But, even this is an education because I can learn why they do or don’t follow my advice and tailor it accordingly.
So I try to help anyone who asks, if I can.
When not to help
Once I was contacted by someone who wanted to talk about creating e-books. He said the conversation would be only 10 minutes and insisted I phone him as he was working at home that day.
We ended up talking for over an hour about e-books, PDFs, ePUBs, iPad apps and the like. I was angry after I put the phone down as I realised the guy had received one hour’s free consultation and I’d paid for the call.
But this was my fault. Firstly, I didn’t enter into the interaction with the intention to help. I was only thinking about money and thought his company would hire me to create e-books for them.
Secondly, I didn’t say before our phone conversation, “I’m sorry, I’m very busy today, we can only talk for 10 minutes.” I usually say this now as I find one-off conversations with no clear directions can easily become unproductive and a “10 minute rule” can help pinpoint the issue.
If you genuinely try to help people your questions will cut to the chase and expose someone who is wasting time.
What you can do!
The next time someone contacts you, whether to ask for help or to enquire about business, put yourself in their shoes.
Rather than selling your services to them, think what would be the best service to help this person.