Embrace the circle (but also the square)

I briefly mentioned in my first article, how important your close circle of supporters, contacts, family and friends can be. In this article I look at this point in more detail, beyond the obvious and acknowledge how the square can also be motivational.

When I look at my most influential contacts and friends, I didn’t even know more than half of them when we first started this journey. Through building Spotless, we have met many interesting, talented, professional people. People who run hugely successful businesses from their spare bedroom. People who used to have professional careers but for whom ill health and age has ended that, yet their ideas and ‘spark’ remains. People who inspire us, put us in contact with those who are of interest to us or who we can help. People who help move our business forward.

I am always interested, when we meet prospective new clients, to find out what they do or are involved with. I am genuinely interested in the ideas and aspirations of others. These become and extend our circle and are hugely enriching both professionally and personally. Likewise, we are often able to put them in contact with those who might be able to enrich and build their own circle. As we build the business, our circle increases and we look to increase those of others.

People who are already in our circle are also of huge importance, often even more so. We already have those bonds that mean we look to support each other, encourage each other and want the best for each other. They will often have been by our side from the beginning of our new venture and may have listened to our ideas, made suggestions and undoubtedly helped to support us through the various challenges. This has certainly been the case for us and we do not underestimate the impact these people have had on our development, both personally and professionally.

When we first looked at how we would market our business, our ideas centred around the standard methods of leaflet drops, advertising in magazines and building a website. We utilised all of these and many others in a frenzied attempt to get the name out there, to build our client base. Friends and family spent time walking the streets to put leaflets through doors, we paid money to advertise in many magazines, all of which was limited in its success. In fact following the several thousand leaflets through doors, we received just one enquiry.

What we should have done was concentrate more on our circle. Tell our friends and close contacts about our service, our ethos, how to find us. Give them all the information and ask them to pass it on. Ask them to talk to their hairdresser, their next door neighbour, whenever the opportunity arose. Those people will often do this very willingly and the ripples will end up spreading far and wide. Offer an incentive if you wish but these are the people who most often have your back and will be only too pleased to help you get off the ground. Even before you are at the point of going out to sell your product, talk to those around you. Our close community provided ideas, a website, marketing material, design expertise and a platform to use to launch from. They gave support, contacts, a challenge and regular brain storming sessions. Invaluable and cost effective!

By all means explore where and how you might effectively market your idea. I am not suggesting you discount those well known avenues for marketing and indeed we have had success with some of them. What I am advising is don’t invest large sums of money on these, that may or may not bring about new clients. Be selective and don’t forget about your circle, the most effective form of marketing.

The square can be equally important. Not all of your friends and community will be supportive. Some won’t understand your ethos, won’t support your plans and won’t believe it to be a viable venture. They will challenge, provide you with self doubt, make suggestions that you know will not work for or suit your business. This is hard, especially if they are people close to you but they will play an important role. If nothing else but to reignite your passion, give you the chance to examine and assess what you are doing and why you are doing it. However, more importantly they give you someone to prove wrong!

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