A thought for February

Snow and ice one moment and the next day there is fog and suddenly daffodils and crocus are poking through. February is a strange month. Lots of people have given up alcohol for January or tried the vegan approach to life and now they are sticking with it or relapsing into their previous lives. Half term is early in Bedford and lots of parents are taking advantage because breaks are not as expensive as normal. So February is a mixture of depression and joy.

On Sunday we had the joy of two gorgeous new babies in church, both very peacefully asleep. The new parents were blissfully happy but not quite so sanguine. They looked and were speaking about sleep deprivation. Between 2 and 4am seemed to be the favourite time for the babies to be wide awake. They were looking for advice from old hands. They were also talking about the challenge of learning all these new parenting skills and the responsibility of nurturing, developing and supporting this tiny new person.

Then later in the week I spent a few hours at the Nat West Accelerator in Milton Keynes. This is a tremendous  resource for developing entrepreneurs, some are starting out with their own businesses and some have reached the point where they want to scale up. They are also learning lots of new skills and feel the responsibility of nurturing, developing and supporting their business babies. They have access to all sorts of people who can help them learn and the fantastic encouragement of people in the same group going through the same process.

Whether it is new parenthood or the business world it can be exciting and scary in equal measure. Having people around you who understand the privilege and the challenges makes a huge difference. Mostly mutual support is quiet and empathetic. Encouragement sees the positive in events and responses. Learning is about watching, practicing and trying again until the behaviours become ingrained as second nature. Remember that strange feeling of sitting behind the wheel of a car for the first time and thinking it would never be possible to co-ordinate two hands and two feet as well as looking forward and back. I remember feeling new respect for people who could drive, navigate and hold a conversation with a passenger at the same time.

And as we gained a skill we learnt to ask different questions and get more detailed information. As we learn we realise how little we know, and we strive to get to a level that passes an exam. Once we are through Grade 1 we move on and on and some people might get through Grade 8!

The great thing is when our friends give us good advice from their experience. It saves us time, it might save us pain and embarrassment and we make quicker progress. So if you were giving business advice what would be your favourite snippets, what helped you most?

These are some of my favourites:

  • Make your customer feel special and they will love you and keep coming back.
  • If you experience great customer service ask yourself why it is so good and copy it.
  • Remember people’s names and use them.
  • Play to your strengths and get other people to play to theirs. You cannot be good at everything.
  • Carry a scribbler with you. It is a notebook you jot everything in that you need to remember especially ideas.
  • 1 + 1 makes 3 if you work with people who stimulate your thinking.
  • People are all different so notice how other people get things done effectively.
  • Never stand still, if you do you’ll go backwards.
  • The worst thing that can happen is probably no response, so risk it.
  • Watch your competitors like a hawk. If they are doing something different to you they are changing expectations. How are you going to beat that?
  • Work is fun. If it isn’t why isn’t it?

So what is your favourite piece of advice? Let me know and I will pass them on next month. It could be just the thing someone out there needs.

And I love this quote.  “If XX says do it like this you know it’s wrong. Do the opposite!”

If this Thought has been interesting, please share it.

Working with a mentor is one of the major ways of getting advice that will improve your business, management and personal skills. It is a great way to work through any business issue that is preventing you achieving what you want to, as fast as you want to. Why not chat with me about how it might work for you.

Life is good; let’s live it to the full, enjoy it and be the best we can be.

Elizabeth Toogood

About Elizabeth Toogood

Elizabeth is a mixture of mentor, coach and non-executive director. She meets face to face with individuals and gives each of them total focus; there are no matrices or models into which they need to fit. The ethos of Elizabeth Toogood is to offer a high level of support and serious intellectual challenge.
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