The accidental project in being social

Windows Restart IconEarlier this year at the Hay Festival Cartagena, Professor Paul Dolan of the LSE warned that the extraordinary popularity of smartphones has led many of us to pay more attention to devices rather than the people around us.

I read about this midway through a four month break up with social media as like many have said in many a film I decided “it’s not you, it’s me” with it. It wasn’t just social media, it was practically any online network and any form of online content that wasn’t directly connected to the projects I had in hand. I needed to clear the decks to restart my approach to my business.

When you run a small business or think about taking the leap, no matter how much people give you advice and no matter how much experience they impart to you, it’s just theory. You have to go through a certain amount of turbulence every now and then of varying degrees to learn the practicalities of it. You have to earn your own battle scars and you have to push through, or go around, obstacles that stand in your way to really know what it’s like to be a business owner.

So the last few months have been turbulent for a number of reasons, all irrelevant to you given what I’ve just said about imparting the theory; but disconnecting myself from a number of applications and platforms (as opposed to devices) has allowed me to reset my focus and realign my activities in order to support it. It may not be lost to you that I’m a female business owner who faces the predicament of balancing my professional and personal lives, but this is no different to anyone else male or female, but it does mean I have to future-proof my business and allow it to support my long-term plans.

It may have been naivity or at the time a large capacity for blind enthusiasm, but the last three years of my business was spent trying to scale the business up and out with the support of employees. The steps towards the vision for my business was accelerated by their assumed equal enthusiasm for the shared dream but because of a number of external factors, it just wasn’t meant to be. So whilst I may financially be poorer for the experience, I am richer in understanding that now grounds me moving forward. So the last four months have been spent redrawing some of the blueprinted plans and making sure I play 2013 in a way that plays to my strengths and equally importantly to those of my clients.

Last year, I lost two employees (Kris and Susie) and an important client. Whilst I would never have asked for the experience(s) I wouldn’t trade it given what I’ve learned from it. It did mean that I shrank back into myself for a bit and therefore from social media but I realised that as a result of taking stock the business is better for it and more importantly, I am happy. And happiness is all I want out of life and for those around to me to be equally so.

Disconnecting myself from Social Networks made me happier, no longer did I let my lack of confidence get in my way when I read how well others claimed to be doing because instead I picked up the phone and spoke to people. No longer did I think checking out what others were up to by reading a status update, instead I went and met more of these people, and when I did I was very honest with them about how things were doing without making them feel uncomfortable. In fact, it was quite the opposite; in doing so, they opened up more and as a result we all got closer.

Many, many, years ago, I used to run a blog site called UKSMBGIRL which I killed when I headed Down Under. In it I mixed business with pleasure and probably because I wrote for myself and at times on a personal note. On this site, I haven’t, for which I realise was my own downfall. Maybe it was because I now have a company of my own and felt I needed to protect my personal life because it was the ‘right thing to do‘. Trouble was, nobody told me this was the case, I’d made it up in my head, and as a result I just wasn’t being me, I was still trying to be my business vision without being comfortable in the now.

Why am I telling you this? Well because I can, and you’ve managed to read thus far because something in you connects with what I’m saying either in empathy or sympathy. And moving forward, I’m going to bring back some of the essence of UKSMBGIRL because it is always there but only ever shown in-person in recent years.

So thank you to all who didn’t delete their RSS feed during the four months of quietness and expect a different approach where appropriate to my writing. I’ll post when I want and how I want, all I hope for is that you will be more social with me as it is always nice to carry on discussions on- and off-screen.

Four months out of the social media ‘loop’ was easy to start but harder to stop which to some maybe a little odd given I have written extensively on social business on behalf of clients previously. But the constant fire hose of information that flows from it can be all-consuming and in the main 99% useless in making you a better person. I spent half a day a few weeks back unsubscribing from email marketing lists that were impersonal, unimaginative, and unoriginal. I now use that time previously spent skimming and deleting now reading, talking with others, and more importantly just thinking about things. In doing so I am playing to my strength – that is my creativity and passion for business psychology including how I can better think for my clients.

And here we are today, I could easily be writing this post to nobody but myself so that I can look back over it in years to come.But if you are reading this, here’s my Thought for March that I would like to impart on you:

Invest in your customers more than your brand. Stop selling and concentrate on making your customers smarter and more confident.

It’s what I’ve been doing and as a result have grown my client base with those I genuinely am passionate to work with so that the income, whilst critical to keeping the lights on, comes a happy second.

If this is something you feel you need to do for the sake of your business and personal life too, maybe you should afford yourself the chance to do something similar. Connect with what matters and disconnect from things that have no bearing on your future success.


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