Back in October I joined a programme called ‘Spark 2 Scale’. A series of workshops run by The Business Growth Hub designed to boost businesses and help me grow the success of my own training sessions.
I’m at the halfway point and already seeing benefits. From practical networking to personal effectiveness and growth hacking. Here are a handful of thoughts on what I’ve taken so it so far.
A timely kick in the pants.
Naturally, being self employed means I have to be proactive, and speculative. With all the goodwill in the world, bad habits can creep into work patterns over time, my work patterns. The very nature of opting to go on a course to grow my business, creating a new ‘business model canvas’ is healthy. Being asked questions that poke at the corners of where I want to go with my niche ‘ stand up comedy techniques for presenting and public speaking‘ training is a very welcome and invited kick in the pants.
Delivering training on presenting and public speaking skills using techniques from my experience in stand up comedy, is a bit niche and a bit of a mouthful to explain concisely. I’ve always found networking a challenge not because of a lack of confidence, actually the opposite. I’m happy to talk and listen, but always found follow ups quite low. Learning that potential clients are more likely to look online for the kind of training I provide took the impetus off attending live events where I wasn’t speaking.
The advantage of the focused nature of the Spark 2 Scale programme is, I find, that I’m in the room with other business minds eager to grow. That common goal really helps. Like me they’re looking to pick up skills, and of course the best business offers are made when you’re not looking for them.
The anticipation of having a growth strategist look over my new business plan with a fine tooth comb and a big red pen was a bit daunting. Despite recent successes, it was outside of my comfort zone, and some of my hidden worries (impostor syndrome or feeling like an amateur) were threatening t show themselves.
Wonderful then to sit down and have all that negative thinking evaporate as my adviser shared my enthusiasm for what I was doing and it’s growth potential. Helping open doors, look at big goals and point out flaws in a way that was practical and constructive.
Prep for the next step.
I’ve three new projects lined up, and as I’m writing this blog. Both leads came from the preparation I put in before starting the programme. I don’t want it to sound like bragging. ( I’m currently reading the book ‘How to toot your own horn without blowing it’ – Peggy Klaus). However once I’d signed up to the course I wanted to have clarity about my outcomes. Updating the website, re-writing marketing content and polishing my elevator pitch, the little jobs that get pushed back received the extra attention they deserved and got results.
Supportive and sharing.
I’m aware through the many books I’ve read that business is people. Whatever the size. I’m influenced by my environment and the people I choose to work with. I shouldn’t have been surprised when the second masterclass was on personal effectiveness. Clapping my hands under the table when the handouts touched on the ‘the map is not the territory’ one of my favourite phrases about planning and adapting to change.
Spark 2 Scale has provided an inspiring environment for my business goals and I’m glad to be part of it.
The Business Growth Hub
Storytelling: getting your voice heard. John Cooper blogs about the break out training session offered by Power to Change at the Locality Convention 2017
On the 14th November I was invited by community business organisation Power to Change to deliver a break out session at the Locality Convention in Manchester. If you were there, hello! Public speaking workshop. storytelling workshop
Big thanks to Claire and the team at Power to Change for inviting me along. It was really quite inspiring to be around so many community leaders, people who ‘get things done’ for the betterment of their local communities.
The session was about providing practical techniques that would get their voices heard at local authority level, to gain funding for their projects. It was a bit whistle stop as I tried to cram in a lot from what I’ve learned over the years; being confident and comfortable speaking and sharing to developing empathy in a narrative. I was aware these attendees probably had their own story to tell, and indeed they did. Everyone I spoke to over the afternoon and evening reception had an incredible story to tell. Choices they had made, often selflessly, to make things better for those around them. Events they had made happen, goals achieved or journeys that had just begun with a sentence along the lines of “…so I quit my regular job to go do this instead”.
The strength of character in the room was tangible ( I even shared a bit of my own story) and I was pretty humbled at the end of the session when co-organiser Charlotte showed me the feedback from attendees while I sold some of my books.
Power to Change put on a great evening reception, highlighting the history of community business with a book launch and a play by the Manchester Shakespeare Company.
Not a bad way to spend my birthday.
workshops for community businesses. training for community business.
Choosing to put comedy, illustration and my other disciplines on one website might sound obvious, but it was actually a really tough decision.
The term ‘jack of all trades’ is a phrase that has bugged me for years. I know it’s negative connotations and consider myself an optimist, but I’ve always thought I was one. A ‘jack of all trades…and master on none’. My thinking has been perhaps inherited from the previous generations. The received wisdom that focusing on one career to become an expert over time was the best way forward, and taking an interest in a few different things diluted time, effort and commitment .
Since going freelance as a designer and pro as a comedian I didn’t want a design client knowing I did comedy in case they thought I didn’t take the work seriously, or a comedy promoter to know that I did graphic design. I was terrified of not being seen as professional.
Old beliefs are very hard to shake. I previously had five different websites. One for comedy, one for design and illustrations, and more recently a podcast and training workshops. Each of these things had it’s own orbit and audience, with rare overlapping exceptions.
The fear of confusing people with ‘multi disciplines’ and not being able to answer the ‘what do you do’ question’ in less than four sentences was (and still is) a bugbear. However, I’ve known for years that diversity and adaptability are key to survive, and something just clicked. Listening to technology podcasts, reading Seth Godin books. Learning more about applied improv in my podcast. Finally something clicked and I’ve broken my old programming.
So here are ‘all my eggs – in one basket’. Better for me, better for google SEO and as I’m finding, people who come looking for one thing and find another and spend a bit of time on my website looking around. Isn’t the the point of a good website?