Why setting up your own business is exactly like being single ... PART TWO
THAT'S RIGHT FOLKS. IT'S BACK! In July last year I wrote this post drawing direct comparisons between my dating escapades and setting up Mac&Moore.
And guess what? I'm STILL single and STILL running a business. Which ... for all you lucky readers has led to even more comparisons for your amusement and general entertainment. And for those of you who thought this might include Jess and I finally just sacking it all off and getting engaged I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed. There's always part three... (SUSPENSE MUCH?)
1) Maybe don’t ALWAYS be closing
As much as I hate to disagree with my guilty-pleasure-silver-fox Alec Baldwin… I actually think on the Mac&Moore side of the coin, it helps to take a leaf out of our dating handbooks rather than the silver screen on this one. We made a decision when we set up that we would try to only work with people who share our mind-set for achieving amazing work, pushing boundaries for creativity and having some fun doing it. Just like dating, you can meet a lot of people, have a nice old time but if you’re looking for something a bit more serious... a partnership if you will, then you need to be a bit choosier.
(Although I would 100% choose Baldwin.... I mean, look at him?! I can't be alone here?)
2) You’ll spend a lot on drinks with people you’ll never want to see again
Ah the elusive time-waster. We were told a lot about this character when we first set up and just like the monster under the bed and not eating your crusts … we were pretty scared. Turns out, we needn’t have been. Just like dating, unfortunately you have to kiss a few frogs before you end up finding ‘The One’. Jess and I have always felt like we’ve come away from every meeting we’ve had with a learning of some sort. Just because a meeting doesn’t result in an instant booking or a six month retained contract signed on the dotted line doesn’t mean it was a waste of time. Even people we met who had little to no money or intention on meeting us still gave us an opportunity to learn. Either about a different business or a different type of person, we’re both pretty nosy to be fair so that’s probably got something to do with it. For us, it’s about thinking about value in different ways.
… I wish I could say the same about the dates I’ve been on. But some of those are JUST BAD.
3) Communication is key
Now, I think on the whole I’m a pretty good communicator. Those who know me will probably reword that to ‘she is loud’. One of the most surprising things I’ve learnt during this process is that communication between Jess and I would be more significant and more important than how we communicate with our clients. That’s something I’d originally taken for granted. We’re friends, it’ll be easy peasy. But (as I’m sure those who have been in long term relationships can attest to) it’s not always as simple as it might seem. We are both very different people with very different ways of working, thinking, reacting and seeing the world. This is the main reason I think we work so well together … Very Yin and Yang. But … This does come with the downside of having to work really hard to make sure we are both being respectful and considerate of how the other might view something.
4) Be yourself
Now, at the risk of sounding like one of those posters which has some sort of wistful picture of the ocean, or some snow-capped mountains, I think there is some truth behind the cliché. When we kicked off, Jess and I saw two different ways that people tended to operate as new businesses, and we chose our preferred route. The first is to act (both in the tone of your website copy and in person) as though you have been up and running a lot longer than you have. To use ‘we’ and ‘our’ on your website when you’re actually a one-man band or refer to your ‘team’ when in reality that team could be a selection of cushions with hand-drawn faces sellotaped to them. The other, and probably slightly scarier route, was to tell the truth. To say ‘hey, we’ve just set up, we’ve got some really exciting plans and we’d love to work with you’. We risked having the door (to whatever coffee shop we were conducting these meetings in) slammed in our faces. But nobody did. I think people appreciate honesty, a bit of vulnerability and an openness which can lead to a trustworthy partnership.
And in the dating world? Come on, we’ve all pretended to be SO INTERESTED in our date’s football obsession/chicken wing eating competition success/pet rock collection (these aren’t all from personal experience before you all start questioning my sanity).
5) Patience, patience, patience
I’m currently writing this post from my bedroom whilst hiding from the approximately 400 builders who have taken over my house but I can already see Jess rolling her eyes at this one. It’s her Achilles Heel. Part of that Yin and Yang thing I mentioned earlier includes our difference in patience levels. Jess wants to operate at lightning speed 24/7, to have already taken over the world and probably cured world hunger on the side, all before we turn one year old. I, on the other hand, try to keep our expectations a little closer to home. The truth is we need both. If the tortoise and the hare had worked together… I bet that fable would have turned out a whole lot differently. But just like I need to have patience to find a suitable date who doesn’t have a pet rock collection or spend his time eating as many chicken wings as possible in 30 minutes, we need to have patience to get to where we want … Mainly so we don’t spend so much time looking forward that we forget to enjoy the ride!