Today is moving day. I’m relocating from London, where I’ve lived for the past 32 years, to the Sussex south coast. Now let’s be clear. I’m not writing this article as the removal team pack up around me! I wrote it a few days ago and scheduled it in advance, ready to publish today. This article is about how to respond to unexpected setbacks after all.
If you’ve ever bought and sold a property in the UK, you’ll know it’s not the most straightforward process. All the logistics happen once you’ve had your offer accepted, found your dream home and instructed solicitors to act for you. This means there is plenty of opportunity for the unexpected to happen, and things to go wrong. Last week was a case in point.
Most of us experience ‘gut feelings’ we can’t explain, like making snap judgements about people we’ve only just met, or falling in love with a property when we’re house hunting. I had an intuition recently about a decision I’d made, and wasn’t sure whether or not I should trust it.
I’m in the process of moving to the Sussex coast and want to build a new network of business associates in the area. I’ve been researching different networking groups in an around the Brighton area and decided to join one. A few weeks later I wasn’t sure about my decision. I had that nagging feeling, or intuition, that this decision wasn’t right. But I couldn’t put my finger on why I felt this way.
On the face of it, I had no rational evidence to explain my intuition. So I hesitated about whether to listen to it or not. But at the back of my mind were reminders of the times I didn’t trust my intuition – only to regret this later on. Sound familiar?
One of the tasks on my ‘To Do’ list this month is completing a questionnaire for a brand design brief in readiness for a meeting with an agency later in the month. They’ve asked me to list my three favourite brands, and I didn’t have to think hard! On that list is TOMS. I love their ‘One for One’ business model, their story and the elegant simplicity of their branding.
The Origins Of TOMS
Back in 2006, serial entrepreneur, Blake Mycoskie took a trip to Argentina with the primary aim of immersing himself in the culture. Learning the tango, playing polo, and drinking the national wine, Malbec. He wore the alpargata, a soft, casual, canvas shoe worn by almost everyone in the country. This got him wondering whether the alpargata could have market appeal in the United States. But as the focus of his trip was on having fun, not work, he shelved the idea; albeit not for long.
You’ve got a cold, so you ask someone to pass you the Kleenex. You want to vacuum your carpets so you get the Hoover out. If you want to search for something online, you Google it. Why do we use the brand name rather than the product description? Because their brand strategies have been so effective that we use the actual brand name, not just the name of the product they sell.
In response to the recession, brand loyalty has been steadily declining, with shoppers saying that they won’t necessarily return to ‘big name brands’ once the economy is stronger. They have developed what’s called a ‘recession mindset.’ Nowadays, shoppers will often bypass the idea of brand loyalty if the product is available at a lower price somewhere else.
As part of my university degree, studying French and Spanish, I spent a year in Southern France teaching English. I also attended the University of Toulouse one day a week where I took a history of art course. In one of the modules, we studied the Impressionist movement.
While the Impressionists are famous now, and their paintings sell for millions of pounds, this was not always the case. In fact they spent most of their lives in obscurity and poverty before becoming the best-known artists in the world. When they weren’t painting, they spent their free time discussing art in a Parisian café. None of the artists were well-known, and they struggled to find anyone to buy their works.
Growing up, Anita Roddick was a heroine. Anita started her business just a few miles from where I grew up on the Sussex South Coast, and went on to build a global ethical brand. When we look at iconic brands like The Body Shop and The White Company, we forget that they started life as a tiny seed of an idea which the founders nurtured, determinedly and relentlessly. I wrote How Anita Roddick Changed The Business World both as a celebration for International Women’s Day on 8 March and as a reminder to myself and my readers about the importance of being vocal about what you believe in.
How Anita Roddick Changed The Business World explores the growth of The Body Shop from a shop in the back streets of Brighton to a fully fledged global brand, bought out by the French cosmetics giant, L’ Oréal. But that was not the end of the story. In February, frustrated with declining sales and overtaken in the market by brands like Lush, L’ Oréal announced that it was looking for a buyer for The Body Shop.
While writing Why Candour Drives Business Success last week, I was reminded of the crusading entrepreneur Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, for whom candour was integral to her business success. Fierce, passionate, unconventional and sometimes diva like, Anita was one of the UK’s most visible and outspoken executives.
The Body Shop played a formative part in my own growing up. The first shop opened in 1976 in Brighton, a seaside town on the Sussex coast just a few miles from where I grew up, and where I spent a lot of time as a teenager. It was the year of ‘the heatwave’ and I remember one of my best friends bringing a selection of Body Shop skin care products in their refillable containers to school. They were nothing like the floral Coty and Yardley products my mother and grandmother so loved, and which I gave as gifts at Christmas.
I’ve always been a big proponent of candour in business, because straightforward, frank communication stimulates real debate. And debate is what leads to smart ideas, fast action and good employees fully contributing to the company they work for. Candour is a rarely discussed secret of the most successful businesses.
So why don’t we see more candour in business if it’s got so many advantages? Well, the fact of the matter is we’re socialised from an early age to soften bad news and to be nice about awkward subjects. Not to be troublemakers. Candour unnerves people.
Oprah was the first person to popularise vision boards. “Create the highest, grandest possible vision for your life because you become what you believe,” she said. In the world of business, founder of Net-a-Porter Natalie Massanet started making a vision board after reading Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualisation.
My own experience of vision boards began back in 2000 after reading John Assaraf’s The Secret. I generally create at least one vision board a year, usually during the week between Christmas and New Year. It reminds me of being a child, when I was never happier than getting out the sugar paper, glitter and glue and making the latest project on Blue Peter (the longest running British children’s TV programme and an intrinsic part of our culture). My current vision board includes references to a workcation in Bali and adventure travel to Kashmir and the Himalayas.
I love this Henry Ford quote: “If you think you can do a thing, or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” It goes straight to the heart of our belief in our ability to be successful. It’s this limiting self-belief, or lack of confidence, that I see hold back too many very able business owners. So I wondered – are limiting beliefs getting in the way of your business success?
Have you heard people talking about how they ‘get in their own way?’ What they’re really talking about is their limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs are the stories we tell ourselves to keep ourselves small. It’s far too late for me to leave my job and start a business. I don’t have enough business experience. I’m a creative and creatives can’t make real money. I don’t know enough about running a business…