So at the weekend I was badly introduced by a colleague to someone I was very interested to meet. It caught me completely off guard and it didn't leave a great first impression. I realised then that I need to work on my own 30 second elevator pitch. So when moments like that happen again I can take control back. Weirdly enough I had helped in the creation of one for my husband recently and so when he is in a business situation. I think he's got a great one. Here's what he says!
''I'm an Aviation Technologies professional with a knack for marrying business and technologies to help businesses achieve their goals and strategies. I'm passionate about the aviation and technology. I read and learn as much as I can about the industry. I have been credited many times by my colleagues for my wealth of knowledge and understanding. I want to help companies really see the value in the technologies out there that can help them build greater customer experiences.'
I like it because it has all the skills, confidence and goals of a quick, clear and understood pitch. Control is firmly in his hands and I think he leaves room for the person he is expressing it too to ask more questions. What do you think of it? Do you like it? Do you think it can be improved? Do you get what he does and how can help. Do let me know!
So, Why an Elevator Pitch?
So anyway.... after last weekend I really think its important to have one for myself. It also reminded me of how important it is when you are introducing someone else too. So my first question in the future before I introduce someone to someone else is to ask if they have an 30 second elevator pitch or kind of create one based on a few key principles.
There are some great benefits to having a good elevator pitch like:-
a) Helps you be more clear and confident about who you are and what you do. How often do we get derailed with thoughts when we meet people for the first time or feel less confident when we meet someone we are super excited to meet yet nervous too!!! A clear, confident pitch just eases all of that!
b) It take the, 'uh..er....' moment out of the equation and you don't have to worry about sentencing a collection of exciting nouns, verbs and adjectives because you have already done it and its ready to go.
c) As you practice it, you become more and more connected with your pitch and you become more passionate about it. The way you say it becomes more embedded in you and you become more authentic.
d) If you are of a nervous disposition when you meet people for the first time and feel awkward setting the pace of the conversation then having a pitch could relieve some of the anxiety that's created in these first few moments.
What Makes a Good Elevator Pitch?
Through my research I've discovered that a good pitch has some clear elements
a) A goal. What are you trying to achieve with your pitch. So personally I reckon you should have may be 2 or 3 'go to' pitches based on your audience you are talking too. Clients or potential suppliers will have different themes so it makes sense to me to vary your pitch slightly.
b) Describe the problem your business aims to solve and then share how your business solves that problem. Keep it simple too. Too many problems you are trying to solve can be overwhelming for the person you are pitching to. We want them to remember what you did, not leave them saying....'uh...he does a number of things but can't remember what'..
c) Identify your unique selling points. It is important identify your strengths, your products or companies key attributes and wrapping them up into the rest of your pitch so you sound clear, understandable and actionable.
d) Simplicity is also a key point. How often do you read a company's 'about us' page and you get dizzy reading the words because they've tried to be clever by weaving fancy words together? I know I have and I land up reading the sentences two or three times just to 'get' what it is that they do. So work your magic on being simple and using language that is conversational as best you can.
My Pitches (Always Work In Progress)
So reading up examples and keeping in my the key elements I created two pitches because I do two key activities. Here they are: -
My Podcasting Pitch.....
'I’m a podcaster and I interview and share the stories of the entrepreneurial women of the Middle East. From across the region, I get to speak to women who are trail blazing, creating changing, building businesses and thriving. My platform is an audio blog which you can listen to anywhere at anytime via ITunes, Stitchers, Soundcloud, my website or via social networks. I have been credited many times for helping my guests feel very proud of their accomplishments and helping them summarize their efforts. For the listeners, these ladies offer shared experiences, opportunity, success and the real story of how it really is to have a business in the Middle East'.
My Social Media Pitch.....
I love social networks and their ability to create, connect and share with family, friends, colleagues, clients, and suppliers. Because of its power I’ve created Facebook groups as large as 40,000 members and created fan pages with a total of over 30000 fans. I have helped numerous people over the last 6 years find the right platform for them and then helping them generate their own leads. I want to help small businesses brainstorm the right strategy for their businesses.
So what do you think? Did I get it? With all these types of things they can be refined and improved as we use them, so I'm going to start with these and then go from there! See how my audience responds.
Great Resources To Help Create Your Pitch.
Like I said earlier though I didn't do this without some help and inspiration from articles and examples out there. So if you want to check them out, these are the links to the articles that I looked at to help create my pitches. I hope you will find them useful too.
a) Crafting an Elevator Pitch
b) The 7 Key Components of a Perfect Elevator Pitch [with Video]
c) A quick guide to writing your elevator pitch (with examples!)
And Finally, Practice, Practice, Practice
Make those sentences an extension of yourself so they naturally roll of your tongue and put you in the right light and send the right impression. I won't be making this mistake again. Authenticity is important these days and builds trust and relationships.
Do let me know what your elevator pitch is. If you have comments about mine, then please do share. I don't want what happened at the weekend to happen again. Its just embarrassing.....
On the 18th April 2016 I put up an episode called 'My 3 take aways on reslience from my interviews with Women Entrepreneurs in the Middle East. As you can see from the image below, these are the results of that download and as I write this blog we are over 2200 downloads!! Clearly this is something that listeners are resonating with. Maybe its the current economic climate or change is heavily in the air this month but this episode has become my top episode and each day there are still downloads being counted. So I thought, so why not do another podcast on another 4. I did have many 'take aways' but I only covered the top 3 - so here are 4 more.
I kind of feel guilty about not putting this up there in my top 3 so when I decided to write another resilience post I thought, 'gratitude' is important to have. When things are tough, I do have a tendency to wallow a bit and hang in that space wondering why is this all happening. Which as we all know, achieves very little! You are literally circling in the same space and going no where. So I've recently turned to gratitude as a way to move my mindset from 'ugh' to 'hoorray'. Its hard, I must say but writing down what we are grateful for really does move the mind and helps you get back on the positive side. It doesn't happen instantly so I totally understand why people give up practising gratitude as the results are a few weeks away but it can help. All my guests I have interviewed were always in a place of gratitude. They were thankful for the podcast coverage, thankful for helping them clarify their own journey through my questions and thankful for being part of a unique opportunity. My podcast is unique in the region and I'm delighted I was able to share their story. When someone says 'thank you' it really does feel really good and I really do think that if we sit back and be thankful for what we have, what we have done and for the people around us, it really helps our resilience. I'm learning to practice more gratitude simply by being aware of my negative thoughts and when I hear them in my head, I whip up something I am grateful for. Try it!! I've read countless articles that say write down 5 things you are grateful for each day. Try it!
Books, Individuals & Goals!
One of the topics I'm always asking my guests is where do you go when you are feeling down, what keeps them motivated and I have seen a pattern through all these women. They all seems to have 3 key places they head too or focus on when things are not going right and that is 'Books, Individuals and Goals'. I discovered that when things were tough, these ladies went back to the drawing board and reconnected with their goals. They would then then talk to friends, family, mentors or coaches. Those individuals that 'got' them and understood what they were all about and why this journey was so important to them. Then they would widen their learning by reading books. Reading up on the areas they needed to work on and broaden. Areas that they immediately could fix with a particular problem they had so they could move forward. When I summed this up in my head, I was thinking, that is pretty simple and why didn't I think of that!!! I guess its because I'm thinking its more complicated than that!! So reconnect with you goals, speak to someone and read a book. It doesn't have to be in that order. Just what you instinctively go to first. Now for me, my instinct is to read. I try and solve the problem myself. I guess its an independence things! But for you, that could be talking to individuals or just going back to the drawing board and taking a look at your goals. Oh and FYI, if reading isn't your thing, how about a TEDx episode or a podcast. We all learn in different ways, so use the best method that works for you. :) All these ladies I have interviewed, you could also listen too as a tool to connect with and understand yourself too.
Don't Be Shy, Talk & Share!
These ladies have all learnt how to Talk and Share. They don't bottle up there concerns. If they have problems or goals that are not being met they talk, they share. They reach out to people and ask for help. All of these ladies have gotten passed the negatives of entrepreneurship, ljke chaos, confusion & their vulnerabilities and began to talk and share about there shortcomings or their weaknesses and to make change so they can move forward. Talking about your vulnerabilities or mess ups can be difficult for most but these ladies have learnt to be self aware and know how being shy just doesn't cut it any more if they want to succeed. They need to be heard, they need to share and they need to find the people that will help them. But what does talking and sharing do? Well it helps you clarify your thoughts and thinking, it helps sort through your feelings and makes things less scary, it can give the issue some prospective. Another opinion can help turn the issue around and make it seem less intimidating. These ladies have learnt how to talk and share and this has only made them stronger and more resilient. The more they talk the more confidence they have developed in themselves and their ideas. So next time you are stuck on something, reach out and talk. Help yourself get clear on an idea, or a problem so you can move forward and achieve your goals. Sharing is caring right???
They are always at the beginning!!
I always ask my guests where they think they are on their own learning curve journey. I ask them to imagine a curve line with peaks and trough and ask them where they sit on that curve and they always said we are at the beginning of an upward curve. I always try to say, 'I guessI you are at the top of your curve based on our conversation given how much they have done and achieve' but no..... they always say they are at the beginning. Everything they do, they are at the beginning of. Its fascinating to think that all these women are at the beginning, but I totally get it. It's their mindset. It's their emotional setting. Its their positive and happiness card they are sharing. At this point on the curve, you are raring to go and you are in a positive growth space. I guess its positive psychology to get through the tough times ahead. With that mindset they can face challenges and obstacles, they can be in control of what is to come and then make the choices that suit them and where they are going. None of these ladies EVER said they were coming down a learning curve or were sitting in a trough of a learning curve. Its just so negative and if you are there, then everything is affected. You can't make good decisions, you can't be productive and you land up hanging out at your own pity party!! Who wants to be invited to that??? No one! Overall it is hard to be strong if you are sick and tired so I guess the lesson on resilience here is always have the mindset of being on the upward swing of the learning curve. If you are there, you are ready for the peak and be ready for the slow slide down the curve.
Resilience truly is the must have strength for entrepreneurs.
Through both my blog posts on this subject I can say that resilience can be found in many places you just need to be self aware, observe and keep moving forward. There will always be set backs, you just need to have your 'resilience list' of tasks you can do when it all goes wrong and you are not sure where to turn. All the women entrepreneurs I have interviewed have instinctively been resilient, even if they know it or not. I've learnt a lot from all of them. A sort of unexpected learning because when I started this journey to explore the women entrepreneurs of the Middle East, my intent was to discover what they did and how they did it not how they were being resilient but deep down I guess that was something I was needing too and is the beating heart of all their stories.
In closing, all these women have put their passion to work, their perseverance in gear and focused on the success and long term goals of their businesses. Some days are harder than others but they push, drive and trail blaze through the entrepreneurial journey and learning curve they have taken on. These women are amazing and I admire their efforts, action and their personalities. Thank you for sharing your journeys Ladies.
I invite you to consider where you get your resilience from and if you have a story to share, then please do connect. The more I talk about this subject the more I'm intrigued by it. The Power of the human spirit to carry on in adversity is amazing!
Failure and mistakes are not a bad thing!! That is the resounding message I'm getting from the ladies I have interviewed. They wouldn't be doing what they were doing if they listened to the negative self talk or were self conscious about what they said or did. When they fail or make a mistake, they just stand up, dust themselves off and travel on to the next 'to do' item from their business plan.
I think that is very powerful feedback and one that I'm slowly coming to terms with myself. At school you are taught to not make mistakes but when you fail your exams or tests, we are taught mistakes and failing are reflections of you not paying attention or studying hard enough. Think of the times you got a big fat red 'F' - on your paper. Its totally demoralising - What do we do with that feedback? We start the negative self talk....'we are not good enough, we are useless, I'll never go to University, my parents will be so disappointed' and there begins the cycle of negativity. From a young age we start this negative self chatter and so we hide away from new things, new ideas because we clearly failed at something similar! I remember my dad saying he was awful at maths. But was he awful or did he have a bad teacher or the class was too big or he was too shy to speak up?? Who knows. But those circumstances meant him blaming himself for not being good at maths. OK. So we do need to be accountable but 50 years ago there wasn't learning support. You were just expected to get on with it but it still leaves you stained with negative messages ringing in our ears. I heard Robert Kiyosaki say recently, 'rubbishing failure and mistakes in school is so anti learning'. And I couldn't agree more.
I've been plagued by my own failure and mistake demons. You know the things you have said or done in the office and you think the whole office is still talking about it months later..... when they are not!!! Or my own negative self talk that I'm not good enough or feeling nervous or inadequate because of my fears of failure or mistakes. Its seriously painful and so overwhelming. It can suck you in and hold you tight for minutes, hours or even days. I'm sure you can all feel your own negative feelings when you think about your mistakes and failings.
But come on... lets changed that tune!! Science and cognitive psychology has shown us that what we say to ourselves impacts our emotions. To 'get' this yourself, the best time to understand this is the morning, when you wake up. If you start thinking negatively in the morning your tummy might start to get butterflies or you feel your stress levels rising and your just irritated ....and you have just woken up. I've been that person and I hate getting butterflies in the morning!! I hate that wobblying feeling in my tummy that just hangs there. In my head I'm stressing about the day ahead, meetings, projects, deadlines...and I've only been awake 30 minutes!!!! So instead now I get up in the morning and I exercise - and watch a ted talk - that works for me. It totally raises my energy levels, changes my mindset to a 'can do' attitude and gets rid of those butterflies. I've become more aware of my thoughts and work heavily on being resilient constantly. So how did I get there? Well this is where I tell you what I learnt from the many interviews I've done with Women Entrepreneurs in the Middle East and how I think you can accomplish whatever you want if you put your mind in the right frame and use your failures to your advantage.
Head to your Treasure Box of Passion & Strengths.
Through all my interviews with my women entrepreneurs in the Middle East, I've learnt that they have recognised their strengths and their weaknesses. They have sat down and really clarified their values, their vision, who they are and what strengths they have that they can use. Their primary strengths is the passion they have for a subject, industry or idea. They've taken that passionate energy and just ran with it. When they hit a hurdle they return to their treasure box of strengths, take up more of their passion and reasons for the businesses. Knowing the why to their quest and multiplying that by their strengths, they rekindle that fire and push forward. Mistakes and failing for them is learning. They place it where it should be *in the learning section* and carry on. They will turn to this process over and over again. I know I have. Creating a podcast around women entrepreneurs in the middle east is new, different and very niche. I'm passionate about these conversations I have and want to share how the women of the Middle East are trail blazing and bringing economic growth to their countries but also 'Making a Difference with Lots of Valuable Experiences (MAD LOVE)*. I use my strengths of relationship building, listening and constructing comfortable conversations to really help me connect with these ladies and help share their story. Remember to tap back into your passion and strengths - I'm sure you will give your confidence a nice needed boost.
Collaborate and Partner Up
I always ask my ladies in the interview how important has collaboration and partnerships been to the success of their business and 99% of the time, they respond with a YES! Every business can't grow in isolation just like people can't grow in isolation. You would never learn anything. So when things aren't great and you've hit a wall think about how you could reach out to a complimenting business or a mentor group or even your mum and dad just to help get you some perspective. In that perspective lies your resilience. When you reach out, get clear about what it is that you need to move forward, how you would like them to help you and how you can help them. Give yourself workable and flexible targets and just ask. Use your strengths and your values to work out a new plan. See if your values and their values align and start a new collaboration or partnership. It doesn't have to be monetary it can be as simple as a barter deal or cross promoting one another. These actions will have you heading down your success route once again. We've all scene that image of success as a windy road and it totally is. So don't hit that wall and feel failure looming, see it as an opportunity to learn, talk to people and take action. Be resilient.
They keep growing their knowledge bank and learning
I interviewed May Khizam yesterday and she said a really cool then.... she said, ' Entrepreneurship looks so glossy on the outside but its not' and she is so so right. *here come some negative self talk* - its a life of hardship, its brings difficulties, chaos, questioning yourself and your business, money worries and fear. There I have said it! Now lets move on! To be an entrepreneur you need to be resilient. Be able to turn all those fears into actionable positives but we need to put ourselves in mindset of wanting to be a learning person. Tricia Evans and Cherine Kurdi both called themselves 'Learning Junkies' and I loved that. They make time to learn, they make time to read and listen to what the latest developments are in their industries aswell as complimenting industries. They've also become really good listeners. Listening for the message that will help them marry that information with their business so they can move forward. They are open to ideas and all this new information empowers them and improves their confidence. So when they do have a set back, they can fall back on their knowledge bank, their goals and recognise their achievements and push forward. They are resilient.
Through out all my interviews I think the key to all of these ladies efforts has been resilience. There are peaks and troughs in their journeys which create challenges and excitement. I think the trick is to recognise when things are going great and make sure you recognise those moments and be thankful for them. Show some gratitude. When things are not going great, turn to your resilience. Even create a resilience list so you have a go to list of activities you can turn too when your brain is not engaging and you are feeling demoralised. The online dictionary I used to define the word failure has two definitions, a) 'lack of success' or b) 'the neglect or omission of expected or required action'. hmm.... it should say 'failure is a blip in your learning and you haven't looked at your resilience yet. Go to resilience'.
*I credit that brilliant Acronym MAD LOVE to my awesome friend and awesome author Jules Miles Lewis. She's written a book on Moving Mountains. All About helping you move forward, discovering your inner mountain and finding your path foward emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically... in business and in life
So last week - I had a new 'first' in my life! I walked across the desert from Al Ain to Abu Dhabi. We were supposed to do 120km but unusual stormy weather across the UAE cancelled 2 days of our journey. The experience was such a mix bag of emotions. From exciting and nerves at the beginning, too 'I don't want to do this anymore' in the middle, too feeling overwhelmed and teary that we had achieved our objective at the end.
The Women Heritage Walk
The Women’s Heritage Walk (WHW) from Al Ain to Abu Dhabi honors the women of the United Arab Emirates who made this journey twice a year not so long ago. Forty-four women retraced this historical trek. Expat women accompanied Emirati women walking in the footsteps of their ancestors who helped sculpt this country. This experience was a celebration of the past and an invitation to shape a vibrant future.
My 'Sand sisters' and I took on the dunes of the desert and during the whole walk I was able to assimilate many feelings and thoughts that I could relate back to daily life for women as entrepreneurs! Women pushing forward, making change and taking action to evolve and grow. Through this journey I noted words and phrases said by the ladies that reflected life and our work life and how it doesn't matter what you are doing there are key skills that apply everywhere!
Skill 1: One step at a time
I recently interviewed a lady called Leen in Algeria. She is the Founder & Executive Director of Injaz El Djazair - Algeria. A global non-profit organisation aimed at empowering young people & young entrepreneurs to own their own economic success. They run soft skill programmes to help the kids in Algeria get a better start in their career.
We were creating her episode for the show and one of the things she commented on was 'we never live in the' moments of our success, we see our goals and then we are very quickly move on to the next one'. Its true we are always in a constant rush and on to the next goal or objective in our work aswell as our personal lives. So while she said this I said, in jest, 'we should take a holiday each time we have a success'. We laughed and giggled about it. But then it got me thinking that maybe that would make us stop and live in the moment of that success.
Think of it like this, when we go on holiday. We do sit back, evaluate our goals and objectives, talk about what has being going on and what we would do different BUT we also enjoy our holiday. We snap up every moment and diarise it so we never forget the smells, feelings, thoughts and even the weather. We absorb everything so we can package it up and hold on to that memory forever.
Why can't we do that we our successes? Lap it up, pull in the smell, feelings, thoughts and I suppose the weather and package up that success and stamp it firmly into our memory? Live in the moment of that success, revel in it and learn what we can from it.
So I'm suggesting a new way to measure our successes. Take a holiday. Take a day to stretch out and live in the glory of that success and suck it up like a sponge so your brain fully stain itself with the success that was. Then at the end of the year, add up your holidays and then see how much success you have had. We thrive on positive energy so wouldn't this just be such a massive boost to our confidence, abilities and our overall being!!
.... now where is my suitcase :)
The First Women Entrepreneur Podcast in the Middle East.
Over the last year I have spoken to 42 different women on the Learning Curve Podcast. From all walks of life across the Middle East. Each time they have shared their entrepreneurial story, their challenges, their successes, how they organize their day, how they see social media, where they seem themselves on their own learning curve and so much more. It’s been an amazing journey and I feel privileged that these ladies have opened up to me so that more women out their can take their own entrepreneurial journey. Their stories were all so different, so varied, so personal too yet there was a common pattern and this I feel came down to these 5 common traits.
I watched a video recently of Jada Pinkett Smith's answer to her daughter asking, "How hard is it being a wife and mother?" – And the message was pretty clear but there was one part that resonated with me. You have to take responsibility for your own happiness. It’s a crucial milestone and its key lies in recognizing your own attitude towards events and people. It’s all easy and clear in theory but in reality its pretty hard. We have to be personally responsible for our happiness not rely on someone else to make us happy. The big power house in the seeking of happiness is the influence our thoughts. How many of us can feel a negative thought pop up and it kicks your gut into butterfly central? Your brain then start to generate more negative thoughts and before you know it, you are angry, upset, and hostile even. All because we haven’t been able to control how our brain’s thought process. Negative thoughts are an evolutionary thing. They are there to protect us. The fight or flight approach. Negative thoughts curb our risk and keep us from harm.
From my prospective - all my guests found a way to be happy. They were passionate about what they did, constantly rebuilding their vision and adding more layers to their business. This constant cultivation of their passion meant their negative thoughts were probably there but they kept them at bay because they really loved what they did. Through my interviews I could see a constant positive mindset, a can-do attitude and taking responsibilities for their own lives and happiness.
The Middle East has in the news this year been a wave of disruption, discontent and deterioration with very little to see if it is going to be better. But I believe happiness starts with one person first and then it radiates. All these women, given the unhappiness that exists around us, continue to thrive and grow even in the face of adversity. Jody Ballard recently told me that ‘Women set the mood in the house… ‘, well if these women on the learning curve podcast are anything to go by then these women are setting the mood for the future and that is let’s find our passion, be happy and take action.
2. Get Out of your Comfort Zone
The comfort zone can really be a scary place. Yes it can. When you are in your comfort zone, you get soooo comfortable that you don’t want to move anymore, do anything different, you can’t see anything different or if anything is wrong. You keep everything the same and repeating what you are doing. Your own learning curve could be pretty flat in your comfort zone. Risk is minimal and you think everything is wonderful. But really it’s a scary, complacent place. How are you EVER supposed to grow and move forward if you are lounging around in your comfy chair? How are you ever supposed to grow if you do the same things over and over again? Are you in your comfort zone? Like Goldilocks, have you found that comfy chair and you are not moving from it??? Please move NOW. Please reflect on yourself for a moment and see how comfy you are and if it’s off the charts, please stand up and get ‘uncomfortable’!!! All my guests have gotten uncomfortable, and look how well it has served them. That shift has made each of them achieve amazing products and services, help them take their passion and their business to another level and serve the customers better. We can’t move on our learning curves until we seek the uncomfortable and make that the new norm.
3. Ask For Help
One of my own terrible traits, is the inability I don’t ask for help. It’s a life skill that we should all learn and one that we shouldn’t be ashamed to share. How many businesses do you know that have been successes because of one person and no one else helped. Hmm…. I’m struggling to think of one. Yes key trends in all my interviews was the importance of team work, collaboration or partnerships. Or my new favourite word, ‘Collapetition’. I learnt this word this year and I love it. When I was at business school, we were taught to understand the competition, learn its strategies so we could beat them, but we were never taught we could ‘work’ with them. The idea of working with your competition to benefit you both I think is a great idea and this year one of my goals is to be more open to asking for help and more collaborative.
All my guests have sought help. They all recognized that in order to be successful at what they do, they can’t do it alone and they have asked for help. Plus the fact we don’t all have the skills needed to make something amazing happen. Synergy is another great word I like to use and I have been able to make that happen when I have connected people I think would be a great fit for one another on a number of occasions. Asking for help will help you climb your learning curve one step at a step.
Don’ Listen to the Naysayers
When I first started podcasting, views were very black and white. You either were a podcast listener and loved podcasts or people were not into them because they really didn’t get them. And sometimes it was weird saying, ‘I’m a podcaster’ and then wait for the ‘oh I love podcasts’ or the complete opposite, ‘what’s a podcast?’. Personally I love the medium, I’m not a great reader and though I do love visual, you can listen to a podcast in your car, on the bus, when you are exercising, or at work even. Believe me I had my moments when I wanted to stop the show but I always found when I got to that point something would happen that would encourage me to continue the show. The show really has had its own learning curve, and it’s been one rollercoaster.
This brings me back to my guests. All of them at some point heard the negative comments but they have refused to listen. Refusing to let ‘you can’t’ be the heartbeat of their project. Their own self-determination which which was packed with motivation, good defiance and a ‘can do’ attitude pulled them through. We all create our own businesses to make money but sometimes passion does out ride money. I know we can always make money but we can’t always just create passion about a product or service that has to be grown with the right amount of love and care.
Failure is just a dip on the learning curve. All curves have an upswing. Where are you on your Learning Curve?
This is actually my bio line on my twitter profile and I really like it. Each time I read it, it makes me step back and see where I am on my own learning curve. I hope it has the same effect on other tweeters looking at my profile. I’ve also starting asking my guests as a way for them to take a look at themselves and allow them that moment to step back too. The answers have always been progressive, flowing and moving. They are not stagnant, which is a positive thing. But overall none are scared of the word ‘failure’. In fact most of them have faced failure in some way and have created a bridge to cross over it and take the lessons learnt. The one lesson I learnt this year from these ladies, is seeing failure as a ‘positive upset’ and one that you can grow from. Its feels like one of those things we anticipate to happen and then once we have done the mistake we are fine again. We got over that hurdle and now we are moving forward again. So like my twitter line, failure is just a dip. It’s how we react to it that makes all the difference.
So that concludes my 5 common traits from my guests this year. Next year’s guest line up is already exciting and I can’t wait to get Year 2 of the learning curve Podcast off the ground and growing again. This year I am hoping to collaborate with some great women building entrepreneur groups and find more amazing women to share on the show. I’m personally very thankful to all the ladies that shared their stories on my show, you were all amazing and I loved connecting with each and every one of you. This month of December has been my most successful download count ever, with over 5000 downloads from across the world. I remember in January 2015 my download was just 300. The show is definitely on an upswing. Onwards and upwards we go.
I wish all the podcast's listeners and readers a Happy & Prosperous 2016.
Whether you realise it or not, so much of your life is based around negotiation. But if you’re an entrepreneur and driving your own business, negotiation is critical.
Make no mistake: the most successful of entrepreneurs go in with a game plan. They’re not seeking to be popular or labeled ‘nice’. They’re looking to seal the deal on every occasion.
So, if you know negotiating doesn’t come naturally to you, we’ve put together 5 steps that’ll help to get your negotiation skills where they need to be.
Ask for what you want
In the art of negotiation, there’s no room for skirting around the subject or being tactful. Be assertive without being aggressive, and question anything you need to in the moment. Don’t rely on follow-up emails to do the job for you if you’re a little shy or not all that confident within yourself.
Always be prepared
It’s hard to negotiate with another party if you don’t know anything about them. When you walk into any meeting or catch-up session, knowing your strengths and weaknesses is key. Of course, knowing the other party’s strengths and weaknesses is also highly beneficial so that you can structure your pitch accordingly.
Know what is negotiable on your end
Chances are, you’re going to have some factors that are negotiable and others that just aren’t. Know each of these and remain firm regardless of the events that unfold. There is no room for emotion when it comes to negotiation.
Make sure you listen
One of the biggest flaws people tend to have is that they don’t listen. The best negotiators will ask what they need to and then listen intently. If you do struggle with negotiating, this really works in your favour because you’re allowing the other party to do most of the talking and to steer the conversation. Just make sure you don’t wind up being totally silent – doing so definitely won’t help your cause.
Aim for a win-win for all
Fact: people love talking about themselves and their worries. Remember, when you’re negotiating, you need to consider the other party’s needs as well. It’s not all about you… successful negotiators often have the knack for making others believe what they are suggesting will benefit them immensely.
If you’ve read this list and are feeling intimidated, remember that like everything else, this all gets easier with practice. The best negotiators have spent years honing their skills.
And hey, there’s no harm in asking mentors for advice either.
If you’re an entrepreneur who’s been through this tough journey already, share how you managed to overcome your fears and worries.
Let’s face it, starting a business is hard. If it were easy, everyone would be throwing in their day jobs to work for themselves.
So, yes, it is hard and anyone who tells you otherwise is simply lying.
Chances are, if you have taken that leap of faith into the entrepreneurial world, you don’t actually have all of the answers. And that’s totally okay.
Read or hear anything by the most renowned names and they’ll tell you they learned the hard way. By making mistakes, dusting themselves off and hitting re-set.
Here are 5 of the most common mistakes to avoid when setting up a new business.
Avoiding these speed humps allows you to focus on making mistakes that are unique to your brand and you can learn a lot more from.
Mistake #1 – Spreading yourself too thinly
Unless you’ve discovered how to transform yourself into Wonder Woman or Hercules, you can’t be everything to everyone. You can’t always say yes to everything. Instead of trying to do absolutely everything, focus on the things you’re really passionate about and if you have to let an opportunity slip by every now and again, let it be.
Yes, you’re an entrepreneur but you’re also human. That means having a break – spending time with family and friends needs to be made a priority.
Don’t take our word for it, read Entrepreneur’s Doing two things, that’s one too many piece.
Mistake #2 – Teaming up with the wrong people
If you’re intending to work with a partner, you need to make sure that he or she is the right fit for what you’re trying to accomplish in the bigger scheme of things. It’s important to work alongside and put together the right team of people who will complement one another and work towards a common goal. If you’re all on different pages, essentially, you’re working on different endings to the book.
Here’s another Entrepreneur article to back up what we’re saying.
Mistake #3 – Not building the connections that matter
Networking – it’s talked about a lot lately and when you’re driving a start-up company, it can be a real stretch to make the time to meet and greet people. Often, doing so means catching up on your work at odd hours at either end of the day.
While not everyone you make the effort to have a coffee with will become a customer, you never know who they may pass you onto down the line. Being able to build relationships and connections is incredibly important for any company, much less a start-up business. Have a listen to this podcast we did with Simon Phillips a networking specialist and his 10 magic tips to networking.
Mistake #4 – Failing to see the bigger picture
Being an entrepreneur is stressful and at times, you’ll need to take calculated risks that could mean reaping some incredible rewards or on the flipside, losing out. Entrepreneurs are big-picture people – they’re not thinking about cashing in that $50 from the next sale. They’re thinking about what that $50 is going to go towards building to help take their business to the next level. Shortsightedness and entrepreneurship is like mixing oil and water (it’s a disaster!).
Love your movies? Check out this list of ten flicks that explore the stories of great entrepreneurs.
Mistake #5 – Forgetting to have fun!
Often, running your own show is a hard slog and people can get caught up in the cycle of simply moving on to whatever is next on the list. Every week, schedule in time to think about why you chose the path you did and one thing you can celebrate from the week that has just passed. Acknowledging these small wins and showing gratitude for even the smallest of accomplishments will help to keep your motivation levels up. And set out some time to relax too. If you relax you will learn more. Check out this article that gives you some ideas of how to relax and learn.
We can also help here too. If you are in need of a breather? Load up your iPod or whatever device you use, jump on that treadmill and listen to some great entrepreneurial stories we’ve featured here on The Learning Curve.
You don’t have to look too far for inspiration: look to those who have walked the same path.
If you’re an entrepreneur – new or experienced – what would you say have been your key mistakes? What would you add to this list?
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda, Jedi Master
We’re channeling the wisdom of Yoda from Star Wars here in order to tackle the first big question in our month long focus on entrepreneurs. That question is…
Can all of us become entrepreneurs?
The answer is… It’s complicated! Fact is, not everyone can be their own boss. Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll tell you that you have to put a lot on the line to be an entrepreneur.
You have to be willing to lose things in order to make way for all of the things the universe is likely to be throwing your way.
Additionally, you need to have drive – The kind of drive that means you’re working into the early hours in the morning instead of sleeping or hitting the party scene with your besties.
Focus, commitment, self-belief and the ability to overcome fear… They’re all key ingredients any successful entrepreneur boasts.
Most importantly, you need to have a mindset in which you’re okay with being outside of your comfort zone. A lot.
This way of life isn’t for everyone: Some people enjoy routines, stability and not having to worry about how they’re going to transform an idea into more.
Some people just aren’t risk takers and that means they’re not cutout to be an entrepreneur. We’re talking about the kind of people who take calculated risks and are willing to back themselves when others wouldn’t.
When you look at the most successful entrepreneurs, they see beyond themselves. They’re big vision people… The kind of people who fail five times and get up six times.
Failure is part of the entrepreneurial journey. Often, what differentiates a successful person from everyone else, is their ability to pick themselves up and continue going when others would give up.
This is harsh but oh so true: It’s not going to get you far just by being ‘good at something.’ An entrepreneur is more than just talented… They have a business brain and while they don’t have all of the answers, they’re good at asking the questions they need to and digging until they find those answers.
They’re the kind of people who don’t just have an ‘idea’ – They’re the kind of people who have an idea, make sure it’s more than just a passing whim and do
whatever they need to in order to determine their ideal client and to make their business profitable.
Not to mention, these days, business is about so much more than making money – Organisations have a social and commercial responsibility and if you look at the most successful entrepreneurs, they always have a vision that’s bigger than themselves. They seek to change lives.
Finally, any entrepreneur needs to be good at networking and communicating. Even the most talented of people get help on their way up… Being able to make people listen to your message and having the ability to think outside yourself and ask how you’re going to help others first, is essential.
Why? Without people, you have no business.
So, let’s answer the question that’s front-and-centre: Can all of us become entrepreneurs?
Yes. Ultimately, anyone can do anything they set their mind to… But that doesn’t mean they should!
Before we go, here’s a 55-point checklist to grading entrepreneurs published on Forbes.com.
And don’t forget to check out our interviews with a selection of female entrepreneurs to discover how they’re making a difference.
What do you think? Can everyone be an entrepreneur (share your thoughts below)?
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Share interviews with Arab and Expat women entrepreneurs, sharing their entrepreneurial journey with their top business advise. We blog about knowledge, articles, FAQ on social media and share tools and resources to help us get going in our niche.