Extra Mile Writing

Extra Mile Writing

Why Being Yourself Counts in Small Business

female silhouette with sunset behind

In small business, we tend to spend a lot of time being super aware of our own personal limitations.

The fact that our own precious self is our greatest asset in business, and in life, is often forgotten.

The buck stops with us as business owners, so we are always aware of our shortcomings.  There is always a long list to work on in order to achieve the results we want to see in our businesses. 

Personally, my life sometimes feels like a battlefield, and not only have I not won the war, I’m struggling to get my lardy arse up out of the trenches. 

However, I’ve found that being myself is also a key reason for what I have so far achieved in business, for the reasons below.

1. I’m Contactable

older woman and boy looking at laptop

I enjoy the responsibility of being contactable in business and I always return enquiries.  If I’m unable to help people with what they need, I always try to refer them to someone that can.

Many other businesses do the same thing, and they reap significant returns as a result. 

As an example, I once had to write a grant application where I was working under an extremely tight deadline.  Not only did I have to write a fairly significant application, I also had two days to obtain quotes from businesses to submit with the application, as well as a CV/biography and photos from each.

So I hopped on the phone on a Monday morning and contacted a number of arts businesses.  One of the artists I called returned my call within two hours, telling me that he was away from home but that he would be back in the office the following day to chat further and provide the information I needed. 

That morning I also contacted three other arts businesses, none of whom ever returned my call. 

I also contacted an arts business in the afternoon of that day, who gave me their email address and asked me to send the project information through to them.  I did so, requesting that they return their quote and supporting information by lunch time of the next day. 

Luckily, the two businesses who did either pick up the phone or return their messages came through for me.  They gave me everything I needed; quote, CV and supporting photos.  I successfully lodged my grant application by the end of that second day.

And do you know what?  I would do my very best to use both businesses, even if none of the grants I wrote came off.

The old saying, “You’ve got to be in it to win it,” is so true.    

2. I’m Courteous

five chooks on perch

I’ve got plenty of faults, but I don’t make promises I’m not going to keep.  Thanks to my gorgeous fluffy parents, I was also raised to be polite and to listen.

I’ve seen plenty of examples of how important this is in business.

A good example comes from one of my “previous lives.”  At this point in my life I worked for a department within an organisation.  This department relied upon the services of an independent consultant who was a very busy one man show.  The consultant was wise, thoughtful, courteous, competent and patient.  The department was clumsy and often downright incompetent, but he never mentioned this.  He would simply light the way forward, handle difficult situations and come up with solutions.  Purchase orders to his business simply rolled over to each new year, because he was gold.  

I don’t work in this field any more, but if I ever run in to anyone who does and they need some help, I’d refer them to him with wild enthusiasm.

3. I’ve Been Through Shit

boar lying in shit and mud

To be honest, my life has been pretty easy and I’m as spoilt as the next first world pleb.

However, by the very nature of the fact that I’ve chosen small business, I’ve had to plough through some shit.

Because shit just goes with the territory.

As a result, I pick up on the situations clients are in, I’m sensitive to their time frames, and I’m aware that as human beings, they need to be listened to and they need solutions.

I know many small business people who have clearly survived some sort of shit.

A woman I know in business somehow managed to find the time to create an innovative business organisation a number of years ago.  I love talking to her because she immediately picks up on exactly what people saying, as well as what they’re not saying.  She has a very well developed ability to listen and is efficient with her time.  When she speaks, every word counts. 

You can almost see the calm and compassionate vibes within her, because she’s done the hard yards and been through plenty.  She bypasses judgement and moves straight to offering practical solutions.    

This of course makes her a wizz with clients, because she appreciates situations in an instant and responds accordingly.

4. I am Who I am and I Don’t Have the Time to Pretend Otherwise

duck flying over water

At my age, I don’t give a flying duck if people don’t like me.

I am who I am, and I do things my way.

I love other small businesses who do things their own way. 

Like most of us, I don’t like being offered the same old shit. 

I also detest reading lukewarm arguments that are scared of offending a single human being, and as a result don’t actually say anything.

I love people in small business who are unapologetically themselves.

The cartoonist Michael Leunig is an excellent example and an Australian legend.  He has always been unapologetic.  His perceptiveness is phenomenal and his cartoons are funny, philosophical and powerful.

As a result, I love his work and I buy his books.

Another good example is brand consultant Mark Ritson.  Mark is clear about who he is and what he believes.  I highly recommend his awesome article on marketing rubbish.

Mark is crystal clear about what he thinks, senses bullshit quickly, and expresses a strong argument.

I think all of us need to remind ourselves regularly that our own precious souls are always our greatest asset.

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