Archive for October, 2010

Fishing for Business ……. or what it takes to win business in the recession

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Those of you who read my blog may recall that recently I was reintroduced to the joys of fishing by my brother… he thought I needed distracting. I used to do it as a youngster and have periodically picked it up again over the years; I never needed too much of an excuse to sit by a river or a lake. I must be getting philosophical in my old age because I was sitting by the lake and reflecting that there were many similarities between angling and business, some more obvious than others. One thing they have in common is that if you aren’t enjoying what you are doing you are far less likely to be successful than someone who is.

Before you go fishing you need to decide that kind of fish you wish to catch. Clearly you will find salmon, sharks and carp in very different places and you firstly need to get yourself to the places they hang out. Next you will need to take the appropriate kit; a fly rod and waders for salmon, a fishing boat and something very tough for sharks. Of course you can try just going to the local pond and throwing in a worm on the end of a safety pin but the chances are that you won’t be as successful as the person who has prepared and planned.

Assuming you have done your research and gone somewhere that you are likely to catch your chosen fish, and brought the right gear with you, you still need to survey the water. A lot can be learnt from simple observation. Where is everyone else fishing? What kit and bait are they using? What are the conditions like? And, most importantly, what can you see? The colour of the water, the movement of the wind, the lay of the land, movement in the water, bubbles and rings all tell you things that will help you succeed.

“The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.”  John Buchan

So let’s assume that you have done all of this preparation and set up in the best spot available on the day, you will still need to use the right bait. What kind of things are your fish looking for? What do they need? What would excite them? Sometimes mixing something exotic with your bait like garam masala can be just what it takes, but get too weird and you’ll get no interest. The bait needs to be presented in just the right way. Some fish are bottom feeders so there is no point in trying to get them on the surface, others are the opposite. So the right bait for the right fish offered just the way they like it is the recipe for success.

The next trick anglers use is ground bait. This is free food offered to attract fish to feed where the angler is fishing. The bait is then presented amidst all this cloud of nutrition. What things of value can you offer free that will attract your clients to you, which will let them know that you have the good stuff?

Time of day and weather also make a big difference and affect the behaviour of the fish; if your timing isn’t right then you are unlikely to succeed.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.  Teach him how to fish and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day”

If you have wandered by a river bank recently you will see that modern anglers seem to need a trolley just to take all their gear, multiple rods and reels, tents, beds, mats, nets and God knows what else! The point about this is that they are using technology to help them and are prepared to try many different methods to catch their fish which require different kit. The other side of this is you can be very successful with a much more simple approach and not hiding behind all your systems and technology. There is no substitute for knowledge and experience.

If the fish aren’t biting despite your best efforts then you need to do something different, go somewhere different; you must adapt and learn.

“There’s no taking trout with dry breeches.” Miguel de Cervantes

I wish you success in your ventures. Fishermen wish each other “Tight Lines” rather than “Good Luck” as they feel it is all down to skill, experience and preparation. Maybe business is not so different… And remember.. “Carpe Diem” doesn’t mean “fish of the day”!

© I-Change Oct 2010

Baggage

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Last weekend I was trekking along the South Downs Way, which is a long distance footpath in the South of England.  We walked from Winchester to South Harting some 32 miles in a couple of days.  Hardly a marathon performance but the furthest I’ve walk and the first time carrying a backpack.  We were blessed with perfect walking weather and views over the silver Solent to the Isle of Wight.  We walked past Iron Age forts and ancient tumuli. 

One of the things I was very aware of was carrying my pack; by the end of day two I was very happy to lay it down.  It caused me to reflect that we all have baggage that we carry with us and, in day-to-day life, these loads are not visible but highly influential in how we respond to other people and situations.  Often it is our baggage that dictates our response more than our brain.  If we want to change, or help others to do so, it can be very helpful to take off these packs, metaphorically empty them on the bed and see if they are helpful.. if they are necessary… if we choose to take them with us on the next leg of our journey.

When I got to the B&B on day one I looked at everything I’d brought and asked myself if I really needed it; if it was worth the effort of carrying it?   I think it is a useful exercise even if you don’t fancy joining me hiking…

Time out

Monday, October 11th, 2010

The time after my wife’s death, when I had to surrender my driving license, was a cosmic ‘time out’ and whilst it was initially very stressful, it forced me to surrender (or go nuts!)  It was a clearly delineated period between her death and the rest of my life.  Now I can drive again, it feels like I have been released into the world once more, and of course this a rather different world for me.  I suspect in the long run I’ll find that stopping for 6 months has helped me make much faster progress than ‘getting on with it’ ever would have.

I have always been a strong believer in the value and power of symbology in Change, and this ‘time out’ has helped me understand it from a different perspective.  It creates a gap between the before and the after.  Sometimes, doing nothing is a very good way of achieving your goals.

“Time cools, time clarifies; no mood can be maintained quite unaltered through the course of hours.”  Mark Twain
”Regret for wasted time is more wasted time.”  Mason Cooley

Best v Biggest

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

I listened to an interesting radio program yesterday and was struck by something Deborah Meaden said.   She was talking about the difficulty and importance of keeping a business the optimum size as opposed to simply following a path of growth.  We have been conditioned to believe biggest is synonymous with best, and if you are thinking long term it simply isn’t true,  particularly for the smaller business.  It is far better to find your niche, one you can excel in and then seek to be the best player in that segment rather than striving for the  illusory control size appears to offer.

What are you really excellent in?  What is the optimal size to deliver that excellence to your sector?  What do you need to do to stay truly excellent rather than becoming stale or complacent?  These are questions that are worth considering…