My tie is my talisman.
A talisman contains magical properties that draw good luck to the possessor. It also protects them from evil or harm. If anyone is in desperate need of a talisman, it’s the struggling small business owner who’s overcome endless challenges to bring unique products and services to underserved audiences.
As a business engineering manager for Qualcomm for 2 decades, I hardly go in for mystical remedies. Still, somehow, I depend on my bow tie as my small business talisman to embody my understanding of my business and where I’m meant to serve in the world. Developing your talisman keeps you focused on your ultimate goal.
My goal at this point in life is to coach other businesses to adhere to their schedules, cut unnecessary business expenses, hire smart and pursue only the right markets. Still, I, too, need reminders and clarity from time to time. I’ve infixed my vision of the realities and dreams of my business in my bow ties.
These unassuming pieces of fabric become my small business talisman because they represent:
- Consistency: Every day one of the first things I do is tie my bow tie because I know that consistent habits demonstrate to your prospects that you are a reliable source for what they need. Even when I’m not feeling like assessing my financials or making those cold calls, my habit of doing so on a certain day and time keeps me on track. I have no excuses. It’s like making your bed, the first accomplishment of the day. You begin how you mean to continue.
- Differentiation: the fact that only a fraction of American men wear bow ties doesn’t intimidate me. I WANT to broadcast my unique business and mindset. Every small business must differentiate itself from competition. I am a colorful and friendly person. The businesses who want only a dull number cruncher shouldn’t use me. Let much of the market go: work with only sliver you’re ideally equipped to serve.
- Memorability: someone I meet at a networking event may not remember my name or background, but there’s a good chance he or she will remember my bow tie. In fact, I get calls that start with, “You’re the bow tie guy. Right?” Recognition that my bow ties work as a mnemonic device is extremely satisfying. As a small business talisman, it also gives me a little boost as I walk into an unknown situation.
- Persistence: Every day, I work hard to tie the perfect bow tie. That I don’t always get there reminds me that many days for my business owner clients (and me) will be imperfect. Not every day is a triumph. Operations and revenues can be going along smoothly when a key employee suddenly quits; a solid deal falls through and mother nature unleashes a hurricane. Bumps in the road are part of both business and life. Every day presents a new opportunity to get it right.
- Self-Congratulation Upon Mastery: When I tie my bow tie with neat corners and smooth faces, I realize, I am a master! Owners who finally master a sales process or presentation should take the time to enjoy the moment. Relishing the times you got it just right feeds confidence and energy reserves. Battling for market share takes both.
- A Networking Tool: Some businesses love the whole networking scene; others . . . not so much. My bow tie acts as an icebreaker, allowing others to approach me and ask why I’m wearing it. I get the chance to discuss all the reasons my bow tie is my talisman. This humanizes me and demonstrates how dedicated I am to providing excellent service.
- A Symbol of Change: I left the best reminder for last. My bow ties help me remember the relentless fluidity of commerce, capitalism and entrepreneurialism. I change my bow ties depending on my mood, my clients’ moods and even the current feeling in society. When the “zeitgeist” or overall trends shift, business owners MUST shift with them.
Consider that I just heard an announcer on a Kohl’s radio commercial saying, “If your favorite retail chain is closing, we’re still here for you.”
It’s hard to believe, but retail stalwarts like The Gap, J.C. Penny, Kmart and Sears (SEARS! which created the very first catalog in 1888! It was one of the few places pioneers could get a decent wash cloth!) are closing many (if not all) of their bricks-and-mortar stores.
When commerce changes, small business owners must be ready to shift with it. Reaching prospects today means using social media, search engine optimization, email newsletters and content. Those determined to stick with print ads and television commercials have failed to keep up with competitors. Great business at the turn of the 20th century went bust by the 1920s because they tried to institutionalize their processes and strategies, rather than evolving them, and hence their competitors who adapted by constantly changing process and strategy overtook them. Companies like the sailing ship manufacturers didn’t embrace change that steam power brought and that killed them. I switch it up and I tell my clients they need to as well.
What symbol can or do you use to keep your business on track toward better profits and more streamlined operations? Business success takes support. Using a small business talisman in the way I use my bow ties can embody your business principles and goals.
If exactly what symbolizes your business escapes you, know that each week, I offer three, FREE 60-minute in person or phone consultations. We can work out whether you have:
- a capacity problem (too much work and not enough staff),
- a focus problem (trying to delivery everything to everyone),
- a revenue problem (margins too low and costs too high) . . .
. . . or any one of a number of other problems small businesses just like yours struggle with! Feel free to call me at 949.48.6346 or send a quick note to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will get back to you right away!