5 min read
Image credit: Kabbage
"Sometimes you've got to zig, when everyone else is zagging" - Richard Branson
And that is exactly what I did. I zigged. During a time when almost everyone I know is climbing the corporate ladder, I decided to do the opposite. Call me crazy…I stopped looking and waiting for the next corporate gig, and decided to create my own entrepreneurial adventure. This week, 16th November 2015 to be exact, I launched my consulting business, called M Consulting, focusing on branding, integrated and digital marketing. I have spent over 13 years in the branding and marketing fields with major brands, regionally, and felt the move, although very daunting, was not without a good foundation.
It wasn’t an overnight decision. After many months of debate and exhausting my pros and cons list, committing to my dream, and believing in my mind and in my heart that I can do it, I came to a point where it was “This is it! Let’s do this!”
I chose to bootstrap, start simple and build up to it. I built my own website then enhanced and optimized it as I go along. And today, you are reading my first blog post! I’d like to share with you, what I prepared for when I got started. I’ll cover a few things on the business, the external support and internal strengths.
1. Prepare a business plan
YES you need a plan. It does not have to be a detailed rundown but you need to address the what, when, who, how, which and whys. It should give you enough parameter to work with and focus on, but loose enough to allow you to make adjustments as you move along. Here’s what I did:
What business am I in? What is my niche, my expertise?
When do I want to launch this business? When do I pivot when a few things don’t work out?
Who is my target market? Who should I reach out to first?
How do I do that and generate revenues?
Which are the relevant high impact channels with best cost?
Why am I doing this?
Then, figure out your business name, brand colours and logo, buy the web domain, design your name card and envision how your website will look like.
2. Prepare your to do list
I have a few lists to be honest. One master list which has all the things I want to do and then there is the much more practical list which I filter from my master list. I divided it into high/immediate priority, medium and low. From there I look at the “need to have” and “want to have”. Focus on the need to have first, then the wants. Yes you know it - prioritize!
3. Prepare a game plan
This is an extension to no. 2 above. You now have a list or maybe 2?! That’s great! Now, you have to put them in motion. Ask yourself “What and which shall I do first today or tomorrow?” If you are a morning person, then start early. If you’re not, start the day a little later but you will probably end your day a little later too. Key thing is to try to stick to it as much as possible but remain flexible to adjust when you need to.
4. Prepare to network
Got your name cards printed? Great, now you are ready to network! Prepare a 30 second elevator pitch of what your business is all about. Short, sweet and to the point. Practice this over and over again until it makes sense. Put yourself in the listener’s point of view and try to imagine if he or she will walk away after the 30 seconds, understanding exactly what you do. Step outside your comfort zone, be brave, be bold and for those few hours, be your most charming-self and network.
5. Prepare to find a mentor or two
I call these guys my gurus and my devils advocates. Finding the right mentors that would inspire, help, nudge, challenge and tap you in the right direction, require a little bit of research, perhaps a bit of trial and error too. Leverage on their knowledge and strengths. Pick their brains on how they have made it. Hear their war stories and take the learnings. Ask them about books that they have read and what they would recommend for you. Keep an open mind and don’t be defensive. Soak up the knowledge and experiences that they are imparting, but take their advice with a pinch of salt too. Always and always, be gracious for their time.
6. Prepare to build your own squad
Lessons from Taylor Swift! Kidding! No...No...No, I’m not saying a squad of supermodels and ridiculously gorgeous people, it is a group of like-minded collaborators because you are not in this alone. There are others out there who share similar experiences or sentiments. Reach out to them. If they are keen, they are in the same headspace as yours and believe in your vision, they will come along on your adventure or at the least, be the source of moral support and sounding board. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook wrote about a similar concept to building a squad which she refers to as “leaning in” or Lean in Circles. It’s about leveraging on the power of peer support, to be inclusive vs. exclusive. Pretty amazing stuff!
7. Prepare to hustle
Things will be not be given to you, honey! Hustle and you stand a higher probability to be getting that opportunity. Keep hustling but try to do it with grace and finesse so you’re not coming across as annoying. Hopefully you’ll be seen and appreciated for your determination and driven qualities. Trust your gut feeling to know when to ask, follow up, remind and when to step back.
8. Prepare for rejections
This happens all the time and in all facets of our lives. Don’t fret. Keep your chin up and keep moving forward. But don’t write them off because a NO today may lead to a YES tomorrow. Be gracious and humble for their time and consideration. Always keep it open ended, and let them know you are still interested, and will be reachable if they change their minds, or if the need for the services arises in the future.
9. Prepare to not have any expectations
Do not expect anyone to do anything for you. Depend only on yourself and the very few people that you can trust your life with. Getting support from others is a bonus.
Do not expect things to go your way all the time. Be prepared to adjust.
Do not expect things to work out. Be prepared to cut your losses, know when to let go and move on.
10. Prepare to stay positive
This requires a lot of mental strength as you will probably encounter some haters and naysayers. Surround yourself with positivity and keep positive people around you. Be absolutely territorial about your space, your sanity and your balance. Guard that zone. I must say, it does make life more interesting and colourful having believers and non-believers in your life because hey…you’ve got to have the Yin to your Yang, the Cookies to your Cream, the Bert to your Ernie and the Thelma to your Louis. Best thing to do is just #ShakeItOff
11. Prepare an outlet to recharge
You need to destress and relax. Starting or running a business, big or small can be really taxing, mentally, emotionally and physically. Find time to go to the gym, go for a walk, spend time with family and friends, pick an activity, do some sports, dance or sing and simply make time to laugh and chill.
12. Prepare to go with the flow
Lastly, once you have given it your all, have put yourself out there and “gone to war”, just sit back, take a breather and go with the flow. What is meant to be, will be. Take a moment to reflect, contemplate and start again…
When in doubt, keep it simple, keep it real and go back to basics.
Now…who’s going to zig with me?
I’d like to say a BIG THANK YOU to these guys, for teaching me a thing or two about life, leadership and teamwork. Thank you for your support in my new adventure!
Al-Ishsal Ishak: Determination and discipline.
David May: Getting it done is better than perfect.
Rob Nolan: Honesty and humility. To declutter and keep things simple.
Tim Johnson: Never settle. Reach for the stars.
David Lusteaux: Work hard, play hard. Love life, enjoy life.
Jonathan Seevaratnam: To love what I do, and do what I love.
Read their reviews here: http://www.mconsulting.asia/about
M Consulting, the branding and marketing strategy development and activation consultancy was founded by Mawarni Adam, an award winning marketer with over 13 years of experience in branding and integrated marketing across multiple industries in the ASEAN region. It is her passion in building, revamping, turning around a portfolio, leading change and breathing new life into stagnant business situations that propelled her to establish her own marketing consultancy. Helping others make a positive difference in their businesses excites her. Her direct experience in the Subscription Video-On-Demand, Airline, Insurance, Loyalty, E-commerce, Banking, Venture Capital and Advertising industries, will bring an integrated perspective and valuable marketing input, strategy development and execution to any organization.
Read more about Mawarni here: About M