Last year I re-started my writing and editing business after a 10-year dormant period. ( I spent 10-years “in house” in corporate communications.) As I started to reconnect with former business acquaintances, make new connections at various business networking events, I learned about new business tools that are now available to entrepreneurs. I put a lot of effort in getting the word out about the writing services that my business provides.
In the warm spring weather this last weekend, it occurred to me that riding a bicycle is lot like running your own business. Recently I fell heir to a 21-speed bicycle – a far cry from the no-speed that I learned to ride as a kid and the three-speed I rode during my university days and at my first real job.
Last weekend, armed with a new helmet and an anatomically friendly saddle, I headed off on the cycle paths in my neighbourhood. I was a bit tenuous, at first. Until I figured out the gear mechanism, I was doing a lot of fast pedaling and not making very much progress. This is where the comparison to running your own business comes in.
In bicycling, you have to lift both feet off the ground and put them on the pedals; balance all your efforts and concentrate on moving forward. With that pedaling effort, you eventually up-shift, and your efforts are more efficient and you cover a lot of ground.
Starting a business requires a concerted effort, tenacity and patience. In business, your networking efforts sometimes seems as if you are just pedaling really fast and getting no where. When you do it properly, you can reap results. You start by meeting contacts, having follow-up meetings to better understand what they do and how you can help them. Then you can connect them with potential clients. You can create opportunities to get exposure for your own business and begin to meet potential clients. At first, it seemed to me that I was doing a lot of fast pedaling without covering much ground. Now, things seem to be getting in gear and I am covering more ground, gaining more exposure and getting referrals for my business writing services.
For bicycling, you need the proper equipment. A 21-speed is far more efficient than a three-speed; a proper helmet provides a valuable protection; and an appropriate saddle gives some added comfort. A bell lets people know you are on the road. It also helps to be in good shape physically to manage those long rides in the country. (that part still needs a LOT of work.)
As a writer and editor, I need a robust computer, software and communication tools to run my business. A well-equipped office with an ergonomic workstation is essential for a healthy workplace. I have business cards and a web site to let people know I’m in business. Finding the right networking groups, finding good partners for referrals, finding good sounding boards for your business questions all help to advance business. You need to know how to use the tools to their best advantage.
What gear are you in? Are you just pedaling fast and not making any progress? Are you coasting down hill, racing along the flat or grinding up hill?