Running a business that relies so heavily on personal interaction, that’s built on real relationships, has never been harder. I’m the first one to shout about the value of social media, and it didn’t take us long to pivot from meeting in a room to meeting via zoom, but I’ve spent my working life face to face with my work. Chatting, swapping ideas, solving problems.
It really is a challenge right now and it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even a little glimmer would be nice.
Of course, I’m not alone. We’ve all had challenges over the last year (OK, my 2020 might’ve been a bit harder than some), but we have to move on. Survival is what matters for now. And that means facing up to some hard realities.
If you’re a small Limited company, there is no rescue party coming. You’re alone. The lack of any meaningful support for over 2.9 million small business owners has been a disgrace. And don’t expect a U-turn on this one – Rishi Sunak is not for turning.
So, is it simply a matter of battening down the hatches, or do we just give up?
I am in the business of problem solving; giving up is not an option. I enjoy what I do: working with lovely people to help them develop and deliver their business plans. So, every year, I practice what I preach and start off with a mini business plan which asks some very simple questions.
Step one – What do I do?
What are my services? It’s easy to articulate the positives to others about their business, but looking inwards, at your own issues, can be difficult. I’ve worked more than half my life in business, and I’ve spent more than half my career in senior management or ay board level.
I understand sales, I understand people, I understand life and what it can throw at you: I support people and have always supported friends and colleagues. I make a difference to businesses – I always have. I am not one to blow my own trumpet and shout from the rooftops, but I do the job put in front of me and problem-solve my way through it. This is what works for the people I work with.
Step two – Where can I help?
A good client of mine who is MD of one of the largest advertising agencies in the country said to me recently,
“as an MD, there is not one single business who wouldn’t improve themselves by getting Tony Harding involved.”
Wow. (as I said, I’m not one to blow my own trumpet – I have others to do that).
I like to help and think deeply about what makes clients’ business tick – or not, as the case may be. I have always been able to be the boxer looking from above, down into the ring, rather than the one stuck in the middle being hit from every direction. I have always been a problem-solver. It annoys the hell out of my partner that everywhere we go I pass a comment on something a local business – coffee shops, pub, cinemas, among others – should be doing differently. Maybe I couldn’t actually run a cinema or a pub, but the business mentoring support I give works and always has for my clients.
Step three – Who do I want to work with?
I really have enjoyed doing recruitment mentoring support this year with teams working from home. The engagement is crucial for a business and, for me, helping to improve and support individuals is really fulfilling.
It’s like going back to my time as a sales manager, sharing knowledge to improve and support a team. I would like more of this type of work – I’m up for helping businesses in more general areas of management as well. Growth is easy when times are good, not so much when it is difficult. An hour with me, by Zoom, Skype or Teams (carrier pigeon, semaphore, etc.) will help set the scene. By the end of it, I’m confident that you’ll know what I’ve said is true. And, even if I’m wrong (I’m not), then that first hour is always free.
If you’re part of my network, feel free to circulate this among your contacts. If you’re not (yet), then drop me a note firstname.lastname@example.org
Step four – Add to your fame
Write a blog about it and share it with your network.