In the wake of the Business Show we are just digesting what we learned and what delegates believe is really troubling small business owners right now. This is as well as following up on conversations individually with people we met and talked to during the two days, of course.
Two things really struck me from the conversations we had – firstly, people really liked our stand because it was different, that was a great conversation starter and secondly, people felt it was inviting and friendly, and that we were interested in them, not just trying to give away leaflets or info.
For me it is these conversations that make it worth us going to the big shows and expos. We are there to learn from and connect with people. Sure, it’s a great place to showcase what we do, but at the end of the day unless we have made a connection and given people a reason to stay in touch we are largely wasting our time.
Which brings me nicely back to what did we learn? There were a few things that came up in conversation over and over, and while they are not surprising, they are certainly worth paying attention to. Connection was a real biggy, and it showed up in a number of ways.
- Being connected to what you do, that for most of us business is not just about want we do. It’s about why, what drives us, what really matters – in other words once you get past a basic survival level it’s not just about making money, it’s about purpose and feeling you are connected to something bigger than you.
- This was just as stark when talking about choosing who you do business with, we want to feel connected. Who are the people in the business and do we connect with them at a base values level? Does it feel right, do they fit with what they believe. It was interesting here how many people talked about wandering around the exhibition being ‘pounced on’ by exhibitors – people launching into ‘this is what I do’ conversations without first engaging in any kind of rapport building. I have to say this is also true of people walking around the exhibition trying to sell their services to exhibitors, (a pet hate of mine).
- Feeling disconnected – many people said they struggled to feel like they belong in the small business world. At the beginning, you set up, get all excited about what you’re doing and the difference you’ll make, you maybe even have a rush of great clients / customers. Then you start to realise it’s down to you, and often just you. The business world is full of competitors, people selling this, that and the next thing to increase your revenue tenfold, get you a six or seven figure business etc. It’s noisy, confusing and not necessarily what you believe is right, hence the disconnection and perceived lack of belonging.
I believe that, in this loud and fast paced world, many of us are striving for connection, we want to belong, but not necessarily to conform. We want to connect but not necessarily compete. We want to contribute but are afraid of being ridiculed, or worse, ostracised. It sounds obvious, I know, but as a species, humans are connected beings, we are stronger together. I also believe we are more disconnected than we have been in many decades. Each one of us needs to help the world become more connected again, and we do this by taking the time to know those you do business with, by sharing some of yourself – even if it makes you feel vulnerable. By looking for common ground, and by being prepared to move on if something does not fit with your values and sense of self. This way not only does the world get more connected but we each feel more connected, less lonely, more able to do what we do.
If you need a place to start look at where you feel like you belong now, look at where you feel you don’t belong and compare – somewhere in there are the specifics that help you to be more connected. Have fun, explore and be brave enough to take the right action for you. If you like Brave Scene and what we are about do join the Brave community