I’ve been a business mentor for many years.

Shaun invited me to add some of my thoughts to the Thompson Balch website and I am delighted to do so and meet you all.  So who is this woman with the funny name and what is her take on the world? I trade as Elizabeth Toogood Insightful Business Mentor but what does that mean?

I am a businesswoman of mature years – well old really! I have been working for over 50 years having started at 12 with my mother in her wine shop. My career proper began in road transport and has spanned retail, motor retailing and consulting in both big limited companies, privately owned businesses and my own businesses. If you want to know more then get in touch and I will tell you some of the stories of crises, chutzpah, strikes and serendipitous events. I am now a business mentor helping people develop their enterprises effectively to deliver whatever outcomes they aim for.

My shorthand is this “ Helping you and your business grow. Together we find your focus and craft the plan to build your success. Together we’ll create your legend, we’ll make it a reality”.

Of course, this is different depending on the circumstances but let’s unpick this.

01234 273644 / 07968 822275

[email protected]

elizabethtoogood.com

A thought for July

It is glorious June. The shops are full of flowers tempting us to plant and nurture. My garden is rampant with clematis; the geraniums are planted and we are set for summer. People are thrilled to see and feel the sun. The weather kindly presented us with a magnificent Bank Holiday. Barbeques seemed to be grilling away in every garden; there was a tempting smell of delicious food and there were lots of happy children enjoying half term.

Of course that is the upside. We are all still concerned about the virus. Most of the eligible population has had its vaccinations but because of the newly identified virulent strains we cannot relax. Here in Bedford there is the conflict between high numbers of infection and the weariness of lockdown. The struggle to remain vigilant and yet to see our family, friends and colleagues. It is stressful and none of us are as relaxed as we would like to be.

And what a week it has been for stress – changing relationships. We all saw a very public outpouring of vitriol. I wonder how many years of frustration went into seven hours of downloading “my side of the story”. It was a classic case of getting his retaliation in first.

And then there was a secret wedding. It was the happy ending, the very stuff of chick lit. One friend said to me “it was a case of some people think I am a shopping trolley but I know I am the romantic hero!” A bit naughty but we do see ourselves through our own lens and not necessarily the eyes of others. Yet again I recommend the Johari window and touching base with how others see us and why. If we are open and perceptive a quick check on our spoken and body language can always yield useful information.

I have been thinking about our need to have some fun and it reminded me of another angle on this. I have a beautiful goddaughter who is almost six feet tall and likes to wear heels. I was reminded of her this week when another six foot girl was bemoaning the lack of tall men and wondering how to meet them. Her main gripe was that they lie on their dating website profiles claiming they are six feet tall or more. Then when they turn up to meet her in the real world they are actually five feet six. She deplores the false ideas they have about themselves and is starting to despair of ever meeting anyone whose eyes she can look into.
 
This is why I was thinking about my goddaughter. When she went off to university she believed she was surrounded by short men. Enter Auntie Liz one afternoon to be greeted by “Where are all the tall, gorgeous men?” Now we know they exist because she has three brothers all six feet five but guys like this were not on her university course and when she went to comedy nights or festivals there seemed to be no one who passed the first filter. I have never needed a strategy like this because I am only five feet five and my husband appeared when I was eighteen and just broke six feet. However I do remember in those long bygone days thinking where will I find someone with the same interests as me? If you are interested in literature or the theatre you hang out at literary festivals or the theatre and do not go to the athletic clubs. However goddaughter needed someone tall so the obvious places were the basketball club, the rowing club and even the rugby players though she is picky about broken noses and battered ears.

Eventually it worked out because she had put herself in the right places to meet the targets who fit the specification.
 
Now you are starting to see where this is going.
 
We all have websites and spend time keeping high in Google’s ratings through our SEO. We hope the right people hit the site and in that fifteen seconds we get that they see something they like that makes them stay with us. But of course this is reactive.
 
If we want to be proactive where do we go to dance? Where do we find the tall or those interested in the same things as we are?
 
In the last year, most events have been virtual and many have been free so we have not needed to be too discerning about our networking either because of the time or the cost. However, now is the time to review where our potential clients and suppliers will hang out in future. My sense is that we are all being more discerning. We are only going to go to places where we will meet the right people. We are also thinking about cost per sale again and choosing the right place at the right price.
 
It is a good time to go back to the drawing board. My goddaughter laughed when I suggested we make a specification for this guy she was seeking – being over six foot was not enough! We did it and she changed where she hung out. What does your ideal customer avatar look like? Are they the same as they were in 2019 or has your offering changed and so does your focus need to move too? Where do they hang out now and who with?
 
Does this mean you should turn up in other places or even look for a matchmaker to introduce you to people in a more structured way?

Let’s think about what happens if you show up in the wrong rooms. Some people say that is fine, all contacts are good contacts. I do not agree. Turning up in the wrong rooms has consequences. Think these over:

  • You waste time
  • You waste money
  • People get the wrong impression of you – a small-time player, just starting out etc. because that is the stage they are at.
  • If you offer a niche product or service do not go where people have no need of that niche; they do not understand your offering, do not see where it fits in and consequently underestimate your expertise.
  • People do not see your value to their business because you offer something for mature, seasoned businesses and they are not at that stage.
  • Because people do not see your value they will not pay the right rate for your product or service. Just think whether you would pay Heston Blumenthal prices if you saw his creations on a Wagamama menu. Both are good brands but they hang out in different places because their potential customers seek different things.
  • The opportunity cost of mistakes is that you do not appear in the right places; places where your prospective customers expect you to be. You miss your chance.

Appearing in the wrong rooms means you will add no good quality prospects to your sales funnel. At the worst you will get nothing from it but you could attract the tyre kickers, the test drivers who have no intention of buying. If you keep doing it you will become disillusioned.

Now networking is as much about what happens outside the room as in it but for good referrals to materialise people need to appreciate the value of your offering and how it contributes to business success.

So specify what you want in a dance partner carefully and then look for them in the right place. It will generate lots of attractive, tall people with all the right interests!

I would be fascinated to know what you think about this and what works for you.

If, as you read this it resonates with you; if you like my ideas and values; if you want to develop your business or yourself; then please give me a call. I love speaking with people, off the meter, to help them explore possibilities and whether/how to take them forward. Maybe you need to think more about dance partners or just want an objective view of how things are! So pick up the phone now.

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