Project, business and strategic planning.
Lurking fears named; problems creatively solved; visions nurtured.
I came across Carolyn Tate’s report – ‘The Conscious Marketing Revolution: Marketing for the 21st Century’ last year when I was planning and researching the setting up of my new business. The report recounts experienced marketing consultant Tate’s loss of faith in the prevailing traditional paradigm of marketing and her insight into how marketing could be done instead:
“Conscious Marketing is all about promoting your offering with honesty, transparency and congruency and with messages of joy, hope, love and humanity… Ultimately your business will be sustainable and profitable because your product or service and your message will leave the world a better place. It’s all about profiting on purpose.”
I loved Tate’s suggestions about how to centre your marketing campaign on communicating your values and inspiration rather than just pushing for the hard sell. It was what I needed to read at the time and I still find myself mentally referring to it from time to time during these early months of setting up. I hope you enjoy reading this most excellent paper here.
I cannot pretend that 2013 was an easy or enjoyable year. Progress towards my goal of hanging out my shingle as a freelancer felt agonisingly slow and muddled at times. And yet, by year’s end, I had to admit that progress had been made. During September, October and November I completed a Certificate 4 in Small Business Management and (via a Recognition of Prior Learning process) a Certificate 4 in Training and Assessment*. I found the Cert 4 in Business straightforward and easy – one of the services I plan to offer is small business planning after all and I have a history in doing this. I did enjoy the chance to bang out my own business plan during the course and was comforted by the fact that a lot of the research and thinking I had done during my slow year proved to be of use. The Certificate 4 in TAE I am more ambivalent about. As a qualification it seems to be highly thought of, but I have to admit to finding it a very dry and bureaucratic process, and somewhat alien to the way I instinctively train and mentor.
So, by the end of December I had come to the conclusion that 2013 seemed to be the year during which I attained 2 pieces of paper that proved that I do know some things that I know. I feel somewhat odd that these little courses, these circumscribed fenced off areas of instruction, should carry such respectability and gravitas in the eyes of the world. Mine has been a scrambling mad progress through life in which I learnt my skills in order to survive some adventures, create some dances, dodge some bullets, help some people. I am not overly turned on by spouting didactic knowledge at folk, or barking out accepted wisdom (while happy to acknowledge that sometimes the wisdom is accepted because there’s something to it). Mine is not the voice of the expert, but rather the voice of the survivor, and a curious survivor at that. This is not an admission that I am dumb or lacking in experience, by the way. But my history has formed me into a creature that is compelled to explore, adapt and invent, sometimes out of necessity and sometimes as a cheeky response to boredom. Asking the right questions is more my thing than giving lectures, but I feel that hard dried certainty is more the admired style these days (I love Twitter but sometimes I feel as if my Twitter feed is an echo chamber full of experts shouting truisms at each other). I must admit to feeling a little sad and strange that my rollicking history apparently counts for less than the 2 pieces of paper I acquired last year in the eyes of many folks I encounter. I guess that my challenge is to find a way of marketing myself so that this history, and the things it showed me and taught me, comes to count for more.
* I also managed to pick up regular training work from Springvale Learning and Activities Centre and a little role playing work from Deakin University. I most definitely do NOT recommend doing 2 Certificate 4s at the same time as part time work.
I have decided to write a little blog reflecting on the process of starting up this business. I am aiming at writing something every month or two from now on; this is the first of two blogs about the first 3 months.
Happy New Lunar Year of the Horse!
Here I am in the third month of my little business. Month number one (December) felt busy, maybe because I was tired after a hectic but productive few spring months, partly because I was doing some work for the Springvale Learning and Activities Centre (SLAC by acronym, but not SLAC by nature). Like most community based learning centres it’s a bloody interesting place. I was teaching some units in SLAC’s Diploma of Community Development course to a most glorious group of people; glorious because they were an interesting and interested small class of people who, despite diverse backgrounds, worked together as a strong mutually supportive unit.
January was the month in which I felt privileged to be able to work at home, hide from the weather and dodge the necessity of commuting in the extraordinary heat. As month number 2 in the business, and as the notoriously quietest time of the year, I did not expect to get work from clients. Instead I used the time to get my house in order and organise the mess of documents I regularly use, create some more training materials, and play around with some draft marketing materials.
Having done that, February is now the month I start producing those marketing materials and getting them out there. I seriously expected to have no clients this month as well, so I am delighted that some of the marketing I undertook at the end of last year has paid off and that I am getting a little work coming in. Nice interesting work, too, with nice interesting people.
So, steady as she goes. I am where I roughly thought I would be (both in terms of budget and action plans) and that’s a good thing. For now. And mildly surprising – unexpected events have a way of ‘finding’ me; I have some weird rogue furtive impulse to pull them towards me and this is both a blessing and a curse. The challenge is to keep on getting my house in order so that when something zooms out of left field I am in a position to respond to, and even enjoy, it.
Some information about a course I will be teaching from next week. Places still available!
Venue: Springvale Learning and Activities Centre (SLAC),
1 Osborne Avenue, Springvale, VIC; ph: 03 9547 2647; email: email@example.com
- Featuring Intel® Learn Easy steps – digital tools for business and entrepreneurship.
- Produce own business plan including marketing, financial, risk and people management.
- Career pathways: start own business, management roles within a small business environment.
- Training pathways: BSB40407 Certificate 4 in Small Business Management.
- 20 weeks part time one day a week on Wednesdays, 10am-3pm.
- Start date: 5 March 2014
Fees and bookings:
Fees are low and bookings are essential as class sizes are small and places are limited. For more information on fees (paying in instalments is possible) and to book your place please contact Springvale Learning and Activities Centre on 03 9547 2647.
For more information about the course you can either leave a comment for me or email SLAC at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Are you thinking of starting a small business but don’t know where to start? Or even what’s involved?
Perhaps you would like to work as a manager in a small organisation and you need some management skills in business planning, managing a small team, organising marketing, setting financial goals and budgets, or promoting innovation?
Maybe you would like to apply for the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) with this great business idea you have, but you speak English as a second language and you find business English and the Aussie business culture hard to understand?
Or maybe you are already running a business and would like to organise yourself better by writing a business plan?
If you are interested in small business but find the idea or process of running a small business scary, daunting or confusing then this is the course for you. Taught in small groups in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, this course is designed to build a bridge between people starting out in small business management and / or planning and the world of small business management. During the course we will unpack and discuss important areas of running a small business and by the end of the course you will have written a basic business plan, increased your confidence in taking on the world of business, understand how to do things like market research, reading financial reports and making a risk management plan. This course is especially good for folks who speak English as a second language – most of the people who come to SLAC speak English as a second language and I have planned the course so that I can help people feel more comfortable with writing, researching and reading business information in English.
Small Business Basics Course is a Learn Local course supported by Adult Further Community Education.
The Big Apple is an exciting new co-working space for artistes, creative and community focused folks. I was privileged to support The Big Apple’s managers on the writing of their business plan last year. They have secured funding and planning permission from council and are all set to go ahead and restructure and renovate a huge light industrial space in Northcote.
The constructing of The Big Apple space will be a fascinating process of itself; its owners are uniquely suited to developing a space that is welcoming, creative and environmentally friendly. Henrik Ender is a trained architect who specialises in environmentally sustainable design. Erin Ender is an installation artist, events planner, community enthuser and interior designer who has a yen for using found materials, articles and people to create community spaces.
Before they get cracking gutting the space good and proper, Erin, Henrik and co-manager Gus are holding an event to introduce people to their design concepts. I have cut and pasted Erin’s invitation below:
“hi people who are keen like mustard to jump into the big apple studios!… thanks for all your interest and support so far- we are finally across the settlement line!!.. in fact, we are in full demolition mode and we are soon to expose the existing structure at it’s most naked!
on friday 14 march we invite you to the construction site from 6:30pm. a presentation of the council endorsed plans and 3d perspectives will begin at 7:30pm then we will literally walk you though the vision and check in with where you are at .. such exciting times!
it’s a bring-a-plate or something to sizzle on the BBQ affair. we will supply a welcome drink, BYO other refreshments.
all welcome- pls RSVP by friday 7 march.
lets gallop ahead in this year of the horse!”
I am going; it’ll be a lovely event with lots of great people to chat to.
If you are interested in finding out more about this event or The Big Apple Erin can be contacted on email@example.com
The Big Apple’s website is here – heandeveandthebigapple.tumblr.com
Some of you followers came on board the Dangerous Meredith blog when I started blogging about kung fu movies. This post is to let you know that I still am doing that (after a bit of a hiatus). You can find my essays if you click on ‘Mostly Martial Arts Movies’ above; or you can go to http://www.jianghumeredith.wordpress.com if you prefer. Unashamed plug now: I am proud to say that some of my essays will now also be published on the Actionland website as well. The blog page you are looking at now will be devoted mainly to blogs that track my thoughts and progress as I set up a new career offering project, business and strategic development services.
This is a messy way of doing things, to be sure, and very un-businessy without a doubt. But I didn’t want to just close down this blog and start a new one; sever the link with either the Dangerous Meredith name at all, or even the kung fu film blogs entirely. You see, both these things grew out of my former life as a choreographer and performer. And it is what I call my ‘choreographer’s brain’ that I bring to bear on creative problem solving for my clients. So I opted for the messy route, kept the Dangerous Meredith blog going but restructured it.
Whatever the reason you decided to start following me: thanks for doing it! Happy reading!