How do you keep your business fresh?

Be disruptive not desperate

‘I’ll do it’. That’s the response you get from Tony Robinson OBE’s answer-phone. It doesn’t surprise me that he’s desperate for work – he can’t do anything. As a literary agent, to yours truly, he’s been as successful as my goldfish.

His long suffering wife, Eileen, tells me that he is no longer asked to be an after dinner speaker. Apparently, organisers know of his reputation for knocking glasses of wine and chocolate profiteroles over the top table guests. This is because he gets over excited when he remembers the point he was making, or worse, the punchline to one of his jokes.

His co-founder of the Enterprise Rockers movement, Tina, says she doesn’t allow him to speak to government ministers or bankers, any more, as he starts foaming at the mouth. His business partner, of a remarkable, if utterly foolish, twenty-six years, Clare, says he should emigrate. But it did get me thinking – what do you do if you or your business looks past its sell by date?

Theory v Practice

My glampreneur friends, business gurus and academics say that you should never let your business stagnate. They’ll say that all businesses have to keep growing even to stand still, in income and profit terms. They’ll say innovation and disruption should ensure your business is never out of fashion. They’ll tell you that cash is the lifeblood, the oxygen, of an entrepreneur so regular transfusions and injections of the green stuff are necessary to stop you spluttering to a halt. But I say; ‘all very well but stuff happens’.

The stuff that happens can be that it sneaks up on you that what was saleable before isn’t so saleable now. Take, as an example, Tony Robinson OBE – and I wish you would. One day he was being paid a mega speaker’s fee and the next day he was scared to go in his daughter’s car in case she drove him straight to a care home.

The stuff that can happen can also be from something, out of the blue, like adverse publicity. Take me, as an example, last week I was papped wearing a Burberry cable knit, wool blend sweater. Now I know it makes me look a bit chunky but I got it to match with a Burberry mahogany red, sprayed bridle, suede, tote bag (£1095).

Anyway, the journos had a field day likening my new look to a sack of potatoes. They even suggested I’d been piling on the pounds because my Soculitherz Choco-Wine diet doesn’t work. Not a good place to be, especially for someone who earns a living from being seriously cool.

Fight backs can’t be risk free

So what did I do about it? Although, I’m happy about my body, whatever size or shape I am, there’s no point in arguing with the red tops. I immediately posted on my website a photograph of me in bra and thong (a pascalle embroidered set from Boux Avenue – Theo Paphitis’s new toy – £38). This shut them up and gave me, my Choco-Wine diet and my scrummy personal trainer, Hans, the right kind of publicity.

Of course, there was a risk that those that said the photo had been airbrushed would have been listened to. But I knew the ones who said ‘Cor!’ would be in the majority. Starting and running your own business is about constantly being willing to take risks. It is the definition of an entrepreneur.

Go for it-now

The corporates and institutions won’t take risks, except for banks taking our money to the casino. This means that you and your business can always exploit opportunities quicker; get publicity instantaneously; test market new product concepts and services immediately; re-brand overnight and work longer and harder to make things happen for you.

If you make a mistake, and you will make mistakes, no-one is going to sack you. Admit your mistakes and move on – faster than the competition. So when you or your business is on the ropes fight back with fast hands and a flurry of punches. You may take a few more hits but it’s the only way to win.

Not that I’m suggesting Tony Robinson OBE should post a picture of himself in his M&S, climate control, undercrackers!?

Ms Soculitherz is a Canadian fashionista, investigative journalist and author of ‘the funniest book on enterprise’, Stripping for Freedom. Ms Soculitherz’s books are available from Amazon and for speaking engagements, please contact her agent, Tony Robinson OBE. Ms Soculitherz is also a Global Ambassador for the Enterprise Rockers movement – making life better and fairer for micro-enterprises everywhere.

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