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Business unusual

The more we become attuned to AI the more we lose the essence of who we are. Connectedness, proximity, touch, looking into someone’s eyes, fellowship.

Dear Diary,

I have officially had my time to freak out about this. Still, I cannot even type out the name of this thing that has befallen me. Because doing so, revives it in my mind, replaying its devastation again and again. Suddenly, I’m surrounded by an enemy I have no knowledge of. It knows my weaknesses and plots to overwhelm me. What do I do?

Mind my mind

My thinking has gone through many stages within a second in time. Fast-paced changes. Things being decided for me and my future leaves me both grateful and angry. I stay indoors because it’s for my own safety, but I’m cut off from the fellowship and touch of other people in whom I found refuge and comfort. Scrambled brains served up for breakfast, lunch and supper I sit with my own thoughts trying to process this. What now?

Mind fog

I take a step back to see what unfolds online and to try to find a gap in which to insert myself. To regain any semblance of control from a system now out of control. I too find myself, scrolling at lightning speed through posts, stopping for a second or two at familiar faces and likened interests. I’m slowly slipping into a mental fog a filter my brain puts on to protect itself from collapse. I enter a state of “too much information”. I then choose to take a break from social media to recoup. How will business take place?

Social media now where everyone is speaking at the same time. Others shout, some watching staying silent. Voices chattering at low volume, incoherent, I try to make sense of it but I can’t. Faces looking at me as I continue to scroll, pleading smilingly for attention. I carry on scrolling, I reach yesterday’s news and log off.

Malaise

To keep from sliding down into a mental malaise, I keep active. I force my way into a fruitful life again. I don’t own a TV, this is still not a problem for me. Computers have always provided entertainment. Now they seem to provide necessary life support too. Will AI be my life support during this time? Will I depend on computers for my business salvation since I’m cut off from support giving humans.

There’s a drive for us to be more dependent on AI rather than each other. Our advice comes from Google search, our marketing and advertising go on social media platforms, our professional profiles can be viewed with ease online, even our hope for a companion can be chosen with the swipe of a finger. This all sounds so future-forward and necessary for now, but what kind of people does this produce?

Google search: humanity

The more we become attuned to AI the more we lose the essence of who we are. Connectedness, proximity, touch, looking into someone’s eyes, fellowship. Yes, life goes on online, we can have conference calls and meetings we can Skype and close deals etc. But my business becomes an android. I’m reduced to plugging into a system that ‘helps’ me to speak through a screen and ‘speak’ through the keyboard.

What will happen to speaking for reals face to face, shaking someone’s hand in agreement to a deal? I’m reminiscing of course. I’m not foolish about how things have changed and how reliant we’ve become on software and computers. It’s a necessity for a business to function today, so we can provide for our families and for our future. In fact in seeing the move towards a more prominent online presence I’ve started this business.

A moral issue

So how do we go about our business? I feel guilty that I’m punting my wares online amidst the bad news of this virus going around, in between people losing their lives and family members, others losing their jobs having to close their businesses and stressing about their next income because if you’re a mechanic you can’t exactly fix cars online!? Why should I succeed alone, I don’t want to. Not off the backs of a struggling market, thinking of getting enough food for their family, dipping into retirement savings to pay for essentials (if you’ve even got savings).

Most people are so over-indebted, now that they’re not working who will service this debt? So trying to cabaret for business to someone who is in this position is a bit difficult. So let’s say they buy into my song and dance and acquire my services, online obviously. Then I fulfil the agreement and deliver the goods and get paid. So my family gets an income and I’m better off right, great for me! I guess I’m using my noodles.

Question is what about the other family that can’t get an income? The baker, the mechanic, the waitress, the restauranteur, the factory workers etc whose work can’t be done online. This makes me ill to think of how my business can thrive in a world that has other people suffering alongside me. Then I’d rather close my business!

A new perspective

Be in business to build up the community. This is my new philosophy. This virus has exposed some things in business too, those who care about their fellow man and those who don’t. What can we do to build up our community, to share business? To take care of each other better. I don’t want to do business unless it helps someone else’s family and business.

I choose to be more giving, whether it be in free marketing consulting online or a promo that’s discounted. I think if you’re skilled in a certain area of trade or business share knowledge online, now is the time. Train others, teach others. We can still be creative and think of ways around this, even though the future seems uncertain there is still hope. What can we do to help each other’s businesses at this time? What would help you? And how can you help others?

What we do:

We do websites for startups and existing businesses, we also help navigate online marketing for better exposure. Our new service is to provide content for your website to make it pop online! So our core business is using the internet and its tools to get you more business. Yes, there are apps that can help you but we can help for a fraction of the price and efforts you’d have to outlay.

A more powerful algorithm

The human spirit. Our entrepreneurial spirit!

Until tomorrow, dear Diary

Love in the time of Corona

As companies cabaret for business online customers are transformed too, into an audience shopping at high speed with a shorter attention span each time.

Dear Diary,

At arm’s length

Love at arm’s length, kind of says it all. Standoffish, judgemental and uber selective. Is this a story of affectation? I’ve been thinking about how this virus has ravaged parts of China, and is now slowly creeping up in other parts of the world on the unsuspecting. Wreaking havoc within bodies as well as economies, also our psychology. What are we to think of it? Is it a story of affectation indeed? Scare tactics dressed up as fake news? What of businesses and global industry?

As the fear of being affected by the virus spreads, it certainly has a ripple effect of driving us inward. Herding us into camps of safety awaiting further instruction. Attuned to radio and TV to eke out specifics of the correct route of existence.

Life online

Are we fearful now? In the throes of the industrial revolution and its inevitable consequences of the rise in robotics and job cuts for the humans, now a revolution of another kind… Life online. As pandemics drive us both further and yet closer to each other, the ebb and flow of a secure future become more apparently online, more web-based.

It’s just you and your computer. Albeit not completely virus-free. Malware, spyware, anti-virus software providing an invisible shield to cacoon us from threat both real and imagined.

#nofilter

As someone who works mainly online, I must ask myself this. Is this driving us online and away from each other physically? How do we feel about this? With news advising us to keep at arm’s length in social situations, what do we make of our businesses in this new cautious environment?

Does your filter become less of a filter online and your raw instinct more watered down to seep through to the point of connection easier for the sake of business? How does this gauge compromise and our willingness to survive ahead of dwindling sales numbers because people are becoming socially anxious?

Business shape-shifts

All the more reason to have a sterling online presence right, the show must go on, as it takes to the web en masse. Competition fiercer and more changeable than before sees businesses shape-shift, to attract customers. But how do you keep such customers? How will this new trend affect the longevity of consumer buy-in?

As companies cabaret for business online customers are transformed too, into an audience shopping at high speed with a shorter attention span each time. It’s neurological, the brain creates pathways known as Heuristics to help with quickfire reasoning. Making it difficult to market to a mind that is skimming channels for something instantly stimulating.

How does one market in a fast-paced environment with multiple competitors employing similar tactics? How does one prevent the mind from dismissing information simply because it’s too much to reason with, takes too long to process, isn’t stimulating enough and treating your marketing as white noise to be tuned out on various online platforms?

To the victor…

Whose business, what sort of business will win this kind of consumer over in such a short amount of time? How would you create visually stimulating content that engages the customer and closes an online sale within a couple of seconds, with millions of competitors vying for the same thing? This is the challenge of online business.

Phantom followers

I foresee, social media theatrics becoming more pronounced as one once-popular “one million-plus followers” user tries to outdo the entertaining newbie. Creating inevitable dilution of likes as more and more users come online and compete on existing and newly launched platforms. Or creating phantom followers, they follow you but they’re not being influenced by you anymore, they’re too spread out on sporadic entertainment across the web.

Embrace knowledge

I think what’s best to do here is to first educate ourselves and take on a logical approach. We have been given lots of information by the Department of Health in South Africa regarding how the virus can be detected, contained and treated. As much as we have to do our own research and draw our own conclusions, we have to be wise still.

We have to protect ourselves and our families, our businesses too. Sweeping fear and logic under the rug will only leave a pile for us to trip over later, wishing we had dealt with it timeously. So with that said, how do we trust each other again? How do we prevent ourselves and our customers from being alienated? Tested information, knowledge and education!

True love

Love and life will find a way, it has this inherent survivalist gene that fights the threat to its existence. And so it must be with business and entrepreneurs. We will always find a way to serve our customers and take care of the home too.

Until tomorrow, dear Diary.

Side Hustle

In your own business, you could probably invoice a client for your whole salary within a day, because they bought so many products from you because you put in the effort this week to work on your business. #justsaying

Dear Diary

I have discovered the importance of an income on the side. Something to fill the gaps while I focus on making my business work.

Sometimes one just needs that extra boost during a dry spell in your business. Something to keep you afloat till the other invoices gets paid. But before I think of a side hustle, I must weigh out the options.

The question to ask is, does it make business sense? For example, if I go and work for someone full time again I will only have time to focus on my business after hours and on weekends. Will I be doing justice to it!? How will it move forward with such little time and attention paid to it? Which of my customers do business in the evenings or on weekends? If a company hires me again what kind of work could I do according to my age and experience. What about the competition? Based on so many candidates looking for work in today’s economic climate how will my CV compare?

Employers are spoiled for choice. Let’s say they could pay me R12000 a month. This means I will have to work a whole month to wait for that kind of money. Money I’ve sacrificed my business time for. So I really need to be careful in selecting a part-time side hustle.

But if we are entrepreneurs, why not start another business? A side hustle to your main hustle. Your time and effort could be better spent because you will still be working on your own ideas. It makes more business sense to try and sell products or services, even resell someone else’s and get the money instantly but still coming to your own pocket in full.

Money that can be made quicker and within a shorter turnaround time than going back to work for someone for a whole month earning less than what you can make in your own business within a day. Depending on your services your bill to a customer can be up to R1000 on a bad day, most businesses make much more than that within a day! This makes business sense.

My side hustle ideas:

  • Independent sales agent
  • Hostessing
  • Modelling
  • Food sales
  • Resell products online
  • Door to door veg basket sales
  • House sitting
  • Dog walking
  • Babysitting
  • Makeup artistry
  • Uber driver
  • Logo design, web design etc.
  • Home bakery
  • Travelling eco car wash

It’s smarter

I think it would be smarter to challenge yourself to think of another way to produce another income for yourself than to go back to a job where you’d be settling for less. If you need to make more money, go sell something. I think it will also be more honest. I’m reminded of a time when I started a business in secret and worked at my job trying to fund my business, a real definition of a side hustle. I felt guilty and dishonest all the time. It felt like I was using someone. Well, that job didn’t work out because there was always a disconnect.

Until I decided that I will be honest about my interests and how it can be of benefit to the right employer. I had a job where I could partner with my employer and sell some of my products through their business, this was an amazing experience, something I wish happened more often in businesses. Eventually, I decided it was time to go out on my own and so here I am.

But is it fair?

A lot of people recommend building a business while still working for an employer, I think it’s best to be open about this to that person, especially if it will affect productivity in their business or keep your mind distracted from it. Showcase how you can enrich their business with your products or services if it relates in some way, or even the skills you’ve acquired. Don’t use others as a springboard, it often backfires. Worse still someone could do it to you in your business one day.

Otherwise, get creative about selling something part-time. When you decide to have downtime in your main business. Or introduce a new product or service to existing offerings to impulse a quicker sale. Start a promo, that is limited time offer etc. These are some ways to get short term income to add to operating capital.

As an entrepreneur, being creative in this way is very important. It’s often when the pressure is on that I get my best ideas. In this way, I’m actually expanding my business instead of going back and forth from employer to self-employed and having to stop-start on my business because of time constraints. What I put in is what I get out when focusing on my business.

In someone else’s business what I put in I only get out much later depending on the job and the pay. Sometimes I must put in much more for very little pay because that’s the state of the economy. So why do this to myself? If I take some time to think creatively, come up with a targeted product or service, put together a clever marketing strategy, I can make some more money part-time, and it’s still my business. I still work for me and I can pay myself (and my bills) much quicker. This makes business sense!

#justsaying

Working for someone is you putting in maximum effort for minimum pay, and you keep chasing that increase plus benefits carrot each time. In your own business, you could probably invoice a client for your whole salary within a day, because they bought so many products from you because you put in the effort this week to work on your business. #justsaying

Until tomorrow, dear Diary.

Simultaneous Equations

Holding your head in frustration with your problems is an everyday thing when trying to balance a work-life situation. Here’s some tips to do it with a smile.

Variables and coefficients

Dear Diary

As I go along my journey I find that I have to hold a few balls in the air, all at the same time. This comes after a week of having to:

  • Pay bills
  • Get the car fixed
  • Sales repping
  • Drawing up new documents
  • Deciding what to make for dinners
  • Making dinner
  • Doing grocery shopping
  • Writing my blog ideas down
  • Visiting family
  • Spending quality time with husband
  • And the list goes on

I’m starting to wonder how do people do this and some do it successfully too. It’s a real skill and quite the sacrifice I find, mainly of yourself. I have been reading blogs and articles about other women in business to see what they have to say about this subject. How they get through it all. We don’t even have kids yet, I can only imagine how a woman with kids does this. Let alone single women with kids who are trying to start a business. Is there enough support? How do they go about creating a support system around them to focus on becoming successful in their businesses?

It made me think of a much-dreaded school subject, math! I wasn’t always good at it when I was in school. But now being an adult I see why. It’s because I didn’t apply myself. I’ve always been logical and sought to do things in a systematic manner. This is the very foundation of math. Admittedly, I was just a lazy snot-nosed kid who looked at the problem and gave up. Unfortunately, this thinking set in motion a pattern in my life I only came to understand as an adult. As an adult, I discovered something amazing when I started to ask why? And then I started to ask how? These are important questions to ask in math, but also in life as a whole.

Rules

I found that the more I started to question things in pursuit of a solution, the better I became at math. It’s in the rules. Not always being one for rules and structure as a teen, as with most teens, I constantly tested boundaries to experience the surprises of their results. Through this behaviour I have learned a lot, about myself and about others. I learned about cause and effect, reasoning, risk-taking, result and; most of all of the situations in life often present themselves as problems to be solved.

Instead of fearing this process, I found motivation in solving a problem by looking at possible solutions first. Then selecting the processes by which I would go about solving it. Sometimes, there’s more than one problem to solve all with a few possible solutions. The question is what is the right answer? Is it a question of priority, what you pay attention to first. Or following a controlled system to get to a specific outcome?

Solving for (x, y)

Start with focusing on what you want to be done first:

  • The priority, your kids
  • Homework
  • Dinner
  • Bathtime
  • Storytime and bedtime, for the kids
  • Setting your schedule for the next day
  • Paperwork organized
  • Take kids to school,
  • Start your day of business etc.

To get things done I find I have to be strict with protocol or rules. A disciplined approach to things. Otherwise, I will never get to solve for x. Because I’m not following a set formula, I’d be making things up as I go along. Have complete chaos as a result and an elusive x. I find myself prioritizing, dealing with what I have been given, clues or…. things that lead to the obvious…

eg. I need to pay these bills first or there will be trouble, I need to spend time with the kids after school or there will be a consequence for that, then I need to reply to these emails or there will be a delay, etc.

Just send the email

I find if you send an email out of business hours this is not in any way unprofessional, it shows you are committed and eager to give someone a response even if they are asleep at the time. It will be waiting for them when they wake up to start their day. This should only be perceived as positive. It means doing work after putting everyone to bed is fine. I find I’m actually very productive in the evening, so this works perfectly for me. I once emailed someone at 3 in the morning and a good few hours later, when they replied actually complimented me on working hard and sought to help me with whatever I need within the day. But with this, take caution, have balance. Burn out is real and often gets the jump on you when your nose is deep in your work like this.

Solving equations with 2 unknowns

Balancing home and work life is difficult. With math, one isn’t expected to know the answer by looking at the problem unless you’re a savant! You go through the steps to solve the problem. Often as working women, we solve multiple problems at once, this is truly amazing. We seem to have this tolerance for it, a natural affinity for math!

As business people, math is at the core of your business. It is in everything you do:

  • Critical reasoning
  • Logics
  • Problem-solving
  • Working out commissions and Salaries
  • Budgeting
  • Doing your books, accounting
  • Dietary plan for your family, so they’re at they’re optimum throughout their day, yep there’s a bit of math there!
  • Sorting the finances for home and business
  • Calculating how much financing you’ll need for business, how much you can contribute and maintain a lifestyle
  • Doing math homework with kids
  • Probability and risk evaluation. eg. How far does this tank of petrol get me for what I have to get done, taking on new clients, business failure or success based on the market, etc.
  • Working out profits and losses

Process of elimination

I find that I have to constantly get rid of the clutter. Things that just get in the way or even cause problems in the first place. Things that cause clutter:

  • Negative thinking or defeatest thinking
  • People who add to the above
  • Bad habits
  • No schedule
  • No discipline
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Lack of support

Satisfy the equation

In math to solve an equation one has to “satisfy the equation”, meaning do the variables ‘fit’ or make the equation true by contributing to the correct answer. Is what I am doing the right fit for me? How can I ensure this? See the link on what is in your hand… https://vdamarketing.co.za/2020/01/24/what-is-in-your-hand/

Substitution method

Don’t feel guilty! This is the biggest one that gets to me. I feel guilty if I say no I can’t meet up with friends and family to work on my business. Or guilty when I can’t buy new toys or cool clothes for the kids because we’re on a budget.

But I find by communicating my new purpose and reasons for changes in the family, asking for support in various areas I get support and understanding! We become a team spurring each other on and we celebrate together when there’s a victory, however small. Most of all we’re driving our destiny and making goals and dreams come true. By setting examples for each other and helping each other along. We sacrifice together knowing why we’re doing it, to keep an eye on the prize for later. We’re building a legacy together and learning how to grow.

Asking, communication and accepting. This has become very important in building my support structure on this journey. If I don’t communicate, everyone will assume I’m OK and leave me to do what I’m busy with. And if I don’t ask, no one will know I’m in need of help. Mainly, if I don’t accept the help no one will want to offer help again.

Truth of the equation

The truth behind the equation is that it is self-created. We create the reality in which possibilities present themselves through our decisions (x) and/or actions (y) and yes life throws in a few other variables and coefficients. We are the axis on which life plots out our thoughts and deeds in the hope that they are a balanced equilibrium. But to this there is always a reason, there is always a solution. A few methods may apply to help with the process.

Until tomorrow, dear Diary.

Only the brave

Do it afraid. I never had the courage or all the words as I stepped into an office or made a call. I collected my courage on the way and discarded fears by the wayside as I went along. So does one have to be brave? No, one just has to be willing to try.

Dear Diary,

I’ve been hitting the pavement, not out of frustration but in need of sales. Yeah, I have been putting words into practice and going out there to sing my song. To practice my elevator pitch, not quite as polished as I reflect on losing my words as soon as I was faced with potential customers’ enquiring eyes.

I went to bed excited, looking forward to a good night’s sleep. I lay my head on the pillow giddy as I thought of all the yesses I would collect. Seeing myself with all the obvious attachments riches can buy, a shiny me whirring past in my new car going from business meeting to meeting. The only thing that met with me was dread as the hours past. I didn’t sleep a wink. The ecstasy of glory turned into something very real as my alarm went off. Fear.

When ironing a shirt takes too long

I was still vaguely excited of course. But more so fearful. What was I going to say to these people? Where will I start gleaning contacts? I drank my coffee slowly, ate breakfast slowly. Anything to delay the inevitable. Suddenly, I couldn’t decide what to wear and my hair just wouldn’t cooperate. Before leaving the house my only frustration seemed myself, my own mind, not even people saying no to me and my business.

I finally left the house and I drove through a few areas. I felt like a stalker, looking into businesses, scouring the local CBD for my next big break. By now I’ve already hyped myself up so much I could run a marathon around the city. I discovered this:

What not to do:

  • Look disheveled
  • Hype yourself up to a point where you feel anxious
  • Being unprepared
  • Not having sales aids or tools
  • Trying too hard to the point of being inauthentic
  • Not having a follow-up plan
  • Taking too long to leave the house not planning the day before
  • Just winging it
  • Using outdated methods to engage with innovative customers
  • Not researching my customers
  • Don’t be desperate, don’t Resort to harassment to wear down resolve in order to get a sale

Crossing over

These are some of the mistakes I made. However irrational my fear was, I knew I had to work through it. I think my fears were more about me holding onto my old self. The person who was pampered and safe in my little employment cacoon. Being fed and petted every time I did what I was supposed to do to keep my job.

I was fearful that I would be lost as soon as I left the house to go make my own way, to be in control of my own professional life, start to finish. I knew that as soon as I hit the pavement and knock on the door of a customer, I would cross over. Unable to return to that person I used to be. I will have a hand in making myself severely uncomfortable. I will have no more excuses to hold myself back. Because I am proving that I can do it.

And so it was, as soon as I went to knock on a few doors, heard a few nos (thankfully, no hell nos yet). I crossed over. Felt a knot each time but pushed trough. I didn’t get a yes on my first day, but I got a lot of maybes. That’s fine, a maybe I can work with.

A lot of the time cold calling a customer is about making contact. It’s a brief introduction, something that leads you to a follow-up meeting if you can get a hold of the right person. Other times it’s trying to get past the receptionist, who is well briefed in dealing with my repping types. I take my hat off to you. But it’s a challenge, it’s something to bounce back from. It’s asking myself, so then what will I try next to get to the right person. That decision-maker, who might give me a yes?

Getting to yes

  • Be prepared
  • Ask a different question
  • Think
  • Then think creatively
  • Sound and be important (be able to back that up). This should make you ask questions about the readiness of your business to service clients properly
  • Be at the right place at the right time, where else can you find these decision-makers besides at their office?
  • Research the companies you call on
  • Be noticed, update profiles, join business communities, engage in activities where business professionals meet
  • Look the part
  • wash, rinse, repeat

This certainly isn’t an instant heat microwaveable result. Its something that takes time and effort and great care to cultivate. It’s your future clients who will have the ability to make or break your business. The people who will review you on public platforms and encourage others to do business with you. How can you ready your business for these customers?

Get ready for that yes

  • Have sales aids: flyers, business cards, something to leave behind
  • Follow up with a call after a few days and set up a meeting
  • Practice your pitch, but let it flow into the conversation, don’t be a parrot rattling stuff off.
  • Know their problems or create the “want factor”.
  • Know how your business can solve the problem or satisfy their want factor
  • Have paperwork ready: create spreadsheets for customer profiles, sales agreements, contracts, etc.

Crossing over again and again. It seems I will do this until it becomes a new habit. Training my brain! I’m evolving and becoming better and better with each step I take. With every no, yes and maybe heard. I wrap my brain around it and dissect it, studying it thoroughly until I can find possibilities and solutions. Being an entrepreneur, for me is about my evolution in business. Happy to make profits as I go along but also happy to discover how I grow as a person each time.

It’s being brave enough to let go of the comfort I’ve come to know and love. To challenge myself forward. To do what needs to be done for my business even when I am afraid of rejection. I have found that it’s better to regard my customers as people who want the same things I want. Good value! This makes them instantly more personable.

They don’t bite

After a while, I learned to use my fear of rejection. I gave myself a pep talk before entering each door: the worst they can say is no, they won’t kill you or swear at you and tell you to get out unless you sell offensive nonsense. They won’t (and shouldn’t) bite you. I found that people are often polite even when it’s a no. They see that you’re trying to be productive and you’re trying to do your job.

By fitting your product into their needs, they see that you care to make a real difference in their business and you’re not just there to ring up sales. That’s when I get a yes when I can convince someone of this.

Do it afraid. I never had the courage or all the words as I stepped into an office or made a call. I collected my courage on the way and discarded fears by the wayside as I went along. So does one have to be brave? No, one just has to be willing to try.

"Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working." Picaso

Until tomorrow, dear Diary