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Fighting or Flighting?

When you start a business your main focus is on making money through getting customers or getting clients. There’s a time at the start when you’re too scared to say no to anyone because you need the money and because you’re scared there won’t be another one.

The longer you work at what you do, the more confident you become and the more you realise that liking the people you work for is important. Stress is very much the reserve of working for someone else for me because working for myself gives me the choice about what I do and don’t want to put up with.

For me that means that if I come across potential clients who I don’t gel with or whom I genuinely feel, despite great intentions, cannot be changed or helped to become more organised then I can chose not to work with them.

However, that has another side to it as well. It might mean that you end up listening to your flight reflex and give up when things seem a bit too difficult. I’ve found over the last few years doing this that it’s important to recognise the difference.

You see, facing a challenge or facing unnecessary stress are not the same thing. You shouldn’t have to do something that makes you unhappy or puts you in a position where you dread getting out of bed. But a challenge is great- it stretches your mind, gets your adrenaline going and is generally good for you… within reason of course!

So my tip would be to not make snap decisions, sleep on a choice if you’re unsure and make sure you make the right choice between flight or fight.

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I can’t hear you…

Sometimes you have to give a message to people that you know they don’t want to hear- you know that feeling you get when you stomach sinks and you dread doing it? Well I had that.

I have a rather over developed flight or fight response that means that in the past I’ve followed a rather strict regime of a) bury my head in the sand b) pray it will all go away and then c) run away.

Needless to say this is the least effective way of dealing with, well, anything. As I’ve got older I’ve got better- that might be confidence, it might be age (that equals wisdom right?), it must just be practice. This last time I blame- sorry, credit- my non use of the 3 step tactic to a good friend who basically told me to stop whining and man up.

So I’ve got this message I need to give. I was describing the situation to my good friend who suggested that I help that person learn from themselves- encourage them to uncover the answer without me saying a word.

Sound advice and I know it had worked for him in the past… But the more I thought about doing it that way, the more I thought about how disastrous the outcome might be. So the principle was sound but the delivery was wrong.

I thought about all my interactions with this person, how they like information delivered and how they respond best and it came to me that they had an incredibly visual learning style (people like that are solely keeping printer ink in business as you have to print everything out!). So how did I take a challenging message and tailor it to the audience who only really connects with something visually.

The answer? Metaphor. A lovely visual metaphor with me drawing on a piece of paper, lots of gesticulation and embroidery; and do you know what? It worked. Better than I could have hoped. I did something I was frankly dreading and it was well received and actually appreciated.

So I think my conclusion is two fold. Firstly, don’t be afraid to give challenging messages to people if they’re important but secondly, make sure you do it in the right way for the person you’re speaking to and sometimes that means getting a bit creative but it’s worth it.

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What does success mean to you?

I saw a meme the other day that asked that exact question, it made me think about my clients and how different they all are.

Taking on a new client is about understand what success means to them so that I can spend my time working to help them achieve it. That may just be freeing up their time to allow them to focus on activities that make them money; it may mean helping them streamline their processes to increase their earning potential; it may mean helping them with their marketing which directly results in sales.

The simple fact is that success is different to everyone. For me personally I am not motivated by money, it’s flipping useful to pay bills and things but it’s not my only driving factor. I am motivated by far more personal reasons, they’re not all important right now but one of them is my deeply held need for order. I love things to be organised and neat and most of all I love feeling on top of things.

I guess that’s why I do what I do, helping other people feel like that is what I hope helps towards them achieving their is success. And I like being a part of that.

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Little Miss Perfect(ing)

I once had a raging debate with someone about the Mr Men and little Misses- they’re all such exaggerations of human character traits. No one is that happy or that grumpy… but it is Little Miss Perfect that drives me mad, because happiness, sadness, grumpiness are all real things but perfection doesn’t exist.

Well that’s what I believe.

You see, perfection is something we work towards, not something we achieve. It is a constant and ever moving goalpost and not an end point. You know the phrase ‘you change, or you die’ well that’s it, you reach a zenith then another challenge or another complication comes along and the goalposts move and you move with them. Thats true of human evolution or of business, change is not only inevitable, it’s necessary.

But welcoming this change is about knowing what the ultimate goal is and constantly working for it- and that is that definition of perfection. Not a noun, but a verb (not literally, obviously).

Many years ago I took one of my A-Levels as a modular course with separate exams. On one of them I got a B which irritated me so I paid to retake it and got a 100% and an A… my debating partner on this whole subject claimed that surely that would be perfect but I argued that no, getting that first time would have been better.

And that’s the thing, you can always find room for improvement- anything you do should be revisited and reviewed for lessons to be learned.

That right there is the definition of the newly crowned verb ‘perfectioning’, I’m making it a thing, don’t try and stop me.

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That’s a long elevator ride…

I love networking, I love meeting new people and getting to know them. One of the questions I still get asked the most is what a Virtual PA actually does and it still surprises me that so little is known about the virtual support service and what they can offer to you.

When I answer this question I’m not speaking for anyone else or the industry as a whole, I am really only speaking for myself and the reason Spinning Plates was created in the first place which may not be the norm for the industry but it is the reason I get out of bed every morning!!

What I offer and what makes really passionate is helping people – making their lives easier. When I was still working in my corporate career I was working 60 hours a week, feeling stressed and overwhelmed and not having time to get anything done outside of work. I missed birthdays, school trip payments and generally felt like my life was out of control. After I left that role I wanted to start a business that meant that no one else ever felt like that.

It’s also where the name of the business comes from – Spinning Plates. I always felt like I was trying to do a balancing act with everything I had on (and failing miserably I might add) so my mantra is that I will help you find time, do more and keep all of those plates spinning.

In terms of what the really means in reality I have such a wide range of clients who need me for different things – I have some for whom I do marketing or sales; some for whom I do a very traditional administrative role; and some for whom I do those little tasks they simply cannot find time to do like booking a carpet cleaner or finding a great print supplier. Every client is totally unique so the service I provide is totally bespoke. That’s what I love though, getting to know you as a client and working out exactly how I can help you best.

So that’s my little spiel. Bit longer than the average ride in an elevator, maybe the travelator at Asda.