From consultants to big companies, the world has changed; we no longer want to be sold to but served. We want to run, work in and buy from businesses that care about us – in tune with our values and in balance with our lives. Welcome to the era of the Soul Trader – a new age of business with a heart.
Throughout the world the desire, necessity and ability to be your own boss is at a high. In the UK alone there are an estimated 4 million businesses. Not bad for a population of approximately 60 million people. You don’t need to be a finance director to work out that this means that most are micro businesses employing 1-10 people. You don’t need to be a mathematician to figure out that a huge number of these businesses are just one person. This is a far cry from our usual idea of business; large firms with huge operations and staff numbers. It’s easy to forget that most businesses – however large they grow – start with one person’s dream. I meet hundreds of these people every year as a coach and as a speaker – including at the British Library where I am their life & business coach partner. The problem is that this dream of growing a business they love often falls apart within a few years because they lose heart, they lose the passion, they get caught up in how they think they should run their business, they forget to ensure that they have a life balance.
So what happens? Well often when all the logistics of starting and growing a business kick in, it’s easy to forget about the fact that business is about using your skills and passions to make a living by creating products and services that other people need. It is about exchanging skills and resources. We have traded in this way for centuries on centuries. But in all the technology, marketing spin, focus on major corporations, we often forget that business is simply about relationships; about people – when it is done with heart and kindness you, your customers and your life will be happy and fulfilled. When it is not, sooner or later it will all unravel; your health, home life, staff / supplier relationships or sales will suffer – or all will.
But something very interesting is happening for businesses large and small. Running a business from the heart is becoming a necessity. We’re sick of working for or buying from businesses that do not care about us but simply our cash. More and more people I meet aspire to – or are forced to – become their own boss due to redundancy, job insecurity and those burning dreams. Many of these have been put off by the common image of business being competitive, cut-throat, about pitching to ice-cold investors. But from this a whole new wave of entrepreneurs – and way of doing business – is emerging. These are people who are following their dreams, building a caring business and enjoying a life balance to support their loved ones and families. These are people who want to run businesses ethically, consciously, collaboratively. They are the Soul Traders. And it is these people that are required to lead and shape businesses of all types and sizes as we tire of fat cats.
Soul Trader – putting the heart back into your business helps you strip away the complexity of starting and growing a business. It reminds you that business is about people and shows you how to utilise your passions and skills to develop a business that customers, staff, suppliers and contacts will love, by building strong relationships with them. For most small businesses it is these relationships that actually bring in the business. Very often when businesses get stuck it’s because they are stuck trying to sell and market to people, and forgetting to genuinely serve and make a real connection to them. Soul Trader takes you on a journey through seven essential ‘heart-centred principles’ to help you flourish personally and professionally whether you are starting out, established or stuck.
- Clarity: Who are you? What are you really passionate about? What do you want to achieve in life and business? Unless you are clear about your vision, mission, purpose and product nobody else will be – your staff, customers and suppliers. Once your skills, values and vision are aligned you will have the motivation and momentum to move forward.
- Customers: Now it’s all about your customers: Who are they? How do they see the world? What do they really want and need? Do they actually want what you are providing or something else? Too many start ups fail to ask and find out – and too many big businesses eventually fail by stopping listening to their customers – and as we’ve seen in this internet and social media age, even large business and bosses can be toppled if they take their customers – and their cash – for granted.
- Courage: Whether you’re making jewellery from home, providing therapies in health centres, running an online business virtually, or producing products from a factory, it will involve challenges, effort and courage. Business is not for the faint hearted. Where will you find the courage, By tapping into your inner voice and external inspiration you can fine-tune your business, and like an athlete it’s these tough challenges that will often help you find your unique style and winning edge.
- Co-operation: Many small businesses get stuck – or fail to start by not co-operating. What kind of help, support and advice do you need and who can help you. Soul Trader looks at all sorts of ways to punch beyond your weight and cut the financial costs of business from swapping skills, collaborating, working with associates, hiring virtual help, taking on staff and working with partners.
- Conversations: Once you have a good product ‘customer conversion is dependent on the right customer conversation’. Everything is a conversation from your website to what you say at a meeting, pitch or presentation. Are you having the right conversations? Too often what we say is not clear, crisp and compelling? This chapter helps you powerfully connect with everyone you meet.
- Creativity: This chapter helps ensure you take time out, (re)gain life balance and perspective. It also helps you understand what you and your staff are like at their best, so you can perform at your best. It includes a range of tools, tips and exercises to boost your creativity, including a 2 page business plan template to complete to help get the right blend of framework, focus and flexibility for you.
- Compassion: What’s love got to do with it? Everything. Unless you care about you, what you do and those you serve, the journey will be painful and pointless no matter how much money you make. This chapter helps you ensure you truly take care of business and create one that is truly loved.
Change: Nothing has or will ever stay the same. You, your circumstances and aspirations will change. Your customers will change as will their needs. So will technology, the economy and society. Soul Trader concludes with this compelling chapter which helps you to become an alert and mindful and aware entrepreneur who is best placed to anticipate, accept and sometimes shape change.
Rasheed Ogunlaru is an acclaimed life, business and corporate coach whose simple ‘become who you are’ approach has helped countless business owners connect with themselves, their businesses and their customers. His background spans over 20 years in coaching, training, media, PR and performance. Rasheed is the business coach partner to the British Library’s Business and IP Centre and business coach mentor to TiE UK. He is a highly sought-after public speaker and regularly appears in the media, including the BBC, The Times and the Guardian.
Twitter – @RasheedOgunlaru
or call 020 7207 1082