First year of entrepreneurship II. – The old, the new, the good and the bad, and that strange mixture of them

The new old

Here you are. The new entrepreneur, and the old face. Old in the meaning of familiar. Most people like old faces, as they are so familiar. They know what to expect from you. Expectations may be good, if you are sure that they are positive. Positive according to your perception. But how can you be so familiar when you have a new business card, a new office and new colleagues, talking about something new? Or something old, but in a new context. More accurately, doing the same ‘old ‘things but in a new approach.

Most people are afraid of changes, so you think that you can leverage on being the old (meaning well-known or familiar) face.  Some of them admit, and they try to find their way in the wind of change and see it as a potential. Others try to hide and find the right arguments to talk against changes, overemphasising the risks.

Those, trying to find their way are those who try to get close to you and see what you are doing, how successful you are and sometimes try to participate in your success. Only in success…This way or that. The others, being reluctant and negative, will raise their concerns everywhere, not recognising that they are literally advertising you, though in a negative context. However, it might be true to some extent that ‘no matter what they are writing about you as long as they are writing about you’, nonetheless the platforms changed and also the language when it comes to sharing information.

You read articles form reputable and less-reputable professionals about the power of renewal, that you have to regularly refresh your image, be visible, on the most relevant professional events, take care of your media presence and provide highlights of your expertise. Huhh… Looks good. On paper, as usual. If you take it seriously – and you do, as you are that perfectionist type – you will invest significant proportion of your efforts into it. At least until when you realise that those writing about these are the ones who are writing about things. Meaning not those who are actually doing things… But there you go. Again. With your environment full of very different people…

Business is business

You are an entrepreneur. You keep repeating it for yourself, not to fall into the trap of becoming a corporate person, although, by definition, you are one. The one who is also a shareholder, meaning responsible for good and bad, all being set off against your own wealth. Fair enough though, as you are also a decision-maker. Start from here. Start from here every day…

The good, old, familiar faces of the first type, those who are trying to find their way in your environment, will keep approaching you with informal things, but would never skip picking a piece of your brain in parallel. The people of the second type, emphasizing risks of being a small female entrepreneur in the respective industry, everywhere they go, will keep talking about their concerns, spreading the news of your existence and most recent developments, without mentioning it in front of you. How do you happen to know that?

Well. You start to receive messages from unknown people all over the world. Yes, WORLD. You start to be approached on events by unknown people, as well. You are grown up and polite, listening to everyone, and – as you are also curious like a cat – you ask where the reference have come from. And bingo… Here those reluctant, risk-overemphasizing second type of people go…

Provided that business is business, you accept all the approaches and comply with your own principles. A client is a client and you undertook to be professional, competent, objective, integrate, fair, compliant and diligent, besides being confidential. Delivered results talk for themselves. So, let us go for the engagements. With that tiny little smile inside of your soul.

Old or new, good or bad

You started at realizing that you have a new reality. You also realized that novelty comes, to a large extent, from you. Your internal change. However, no one has told you that change would be easy… You have good days and bad days. You have to have bad days to have good days, as per the saying, that you keep repeating to yourself. Quite often.

But, be honest: you actually have more bad days than good ones… You feel like working more than in your previous job, for considerably less money. You have dozens of meetings in different countries, submit several offers, create case studies for prospective clients and complimentary papers on certain topics, you publish, participate in conferences, workshops, take speaking opportunities, attend networking events and spend on marketing and advertising.

What do you get? Some dinner invitations to show you that you may be eligible as a woman, but surely not as a business partner. Some meeting opportunities where you are educated and explained in a patronizing tone that you may come back in 3 years, of course, if you would still be here. Some ‘good advice’ on ‘the relationship basis’ to join one of the big names instead of wasting your money. Some questions why you do not try to leverage your knowledge and network – in your original home country… And, finally you get some really bad days and sleepless nights to think and to think how to break through… And as a consequence, you tend to make some of your worst decisions….

You decide to ‘buy’ visibility or opportunities to show your skills and expertise. ‘Buy’ means to submit offers with a pricing methodology where your income depends on the financial outcome of your advice or other contributions, or simply with a clean success fee. And you are happy with the growing number of appointments. Until …

Restart

Some of your old routines are still applied in your new reality. Controlling and monitoring. Regularly. And – basically – everything. Be honest, you like to see where things are going. All the bits and pieces to be put together. When the first pre-decided milestone comes, you fill your excels, as usual. Well. You fill it again, as there might be some mistake in the calculations…

Some coffees, chocolates and other endorphine-generators later, you realize that something is not right. At least half of your ongoing engagements reached a point where you have a fairly good chance to spend more than would ever be paid. And you are shocked. How could it happen?

It is very easy: you were focusing on delivering your best, to meet all the requests of the client, to show your cooperative approach and generosity. As this is how you used to work… And right when you pronounce it inside, you immediately realize that you are on the wrong track… You are trying to use the old routines in your new reality… although, the circumstances have changed and you forgot to validate your ticket to the power-game… where some people may have different principles, if at all…

Some additional sleepless nights and internal conversations with your self, some additional ‘good advice’ from your ‘friends’ and patronizing comments form colleagues and partners later, you come to the conclusion that you have to decide. Based on cold business rationale. Full stop.

You go out running. Then clean the apartment and cook something for yourself. Healthy food is important… You check the news and call your family… Both are very important… It continues like that, but the evening comes and the issue is still there…

Finally, you sit down, open your laptop and start: Dear Mr. …, I hope you are doing fine… You make some references to the business relationship and the achievements so far, then continue: Unfortunately, we are not in the position to continue in this manner, and would terminate our agreement  … Dates, obligations and the respective references made. Enter hit…. Emails are on their way … for half of your client count, due to – relatively – the same reasons…

Let us start form here. More accurately: restart…

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