After running a large city retail store for many years, I joined a business mentoring and network group.
I quickly discovered that it doesn’t matter how experienced you are or how well your business is doing, there are always fresh perspectives and ideas you haven’t considered that could be of huge benefit to your business.
In fact, joining the group two years ago has helped me transform my business and survive online disruption, despite the pandemic.
Not only that, it has also offered me a new-found enthusiasm for what I do and how I can improve as a business owner.
Recently, I’ve been working towards implementing a new systems management program that will streamline processes and revolutionise stock control, a feat I would not have attempted had I not been a part of the business program.
I’ve also increased our investment in social media, introduced in-store activities to drive the sales experience and created a number of online and store promotions to drive traffic and improve customer engagement.
There’s always a healthy culture of innovation in these business networks. Discussion about new products, services and systems or updates on the latest apps and research has helped me stay on trend and even ahead of the game.
The support of like-minded people within the group has definitely given me the confidence to try new ways of operating.
It’s often difficult to see the wood for the trees when running your own business.
You get so caught up in the ordinary routine of running the business that it can leave you with no time for reflection, energy to innovate or confidence to implement ideas.
Operating your own small business can also be isolating. I keep irregular hours; I often work late ordering stock or sorting paperwork and my store trades on all but three days of the year. So, without exposure to different points of view at my business mentoring network, I could have missed seeing things from another perspective.
I’ve enjoyed the buzz of being connected to other people who work in small business and share similar goals. The group has allowed me to share in advice from guest speakers, experts and other business operators. I’ve found being mentored away from the office, in a social environment with people facing similar challenges really refreshing.
Many business owners may be reluctant to invest in seminars and conferences or joining a business network because they don’t feel the need or they simply don’t have the time. But no matter how experienced you are at your business; I’ve realised you can always learn better business practices.
Look for meetings that offer a free introductory session before joining. Keep an open mind and remember, not every business network or every convention will work for everyone. It’s also something that may only appeal at a time that’s right for you.
Nothing beats the human interaction you get from attending these events.