OMG! What a week it’s been. World Book Week and International Women’s Day and what the heck is the use of having the inept Tony Robinson OBE as your agent? I will have to let his children and wife have their way and just drive him to a care home – I’ve run out of excuses for him. He was asked to put forward his ‘must read’ book for business or when travelling. Instead of my best seller – ‘Stripping for Freedom’ – he says ‘Wuthering Heights’. Instead of putting me forward for International Woman of the Year- supreme fashionista, fearless investigative journalist, a Canadian and Jimmy Choo’s hottest model – he says ‘Kate Bush’!
Frankly, a care home is too good for Robinson, he’ll just sit in a chair watching sport on telly and eating cinder toffee ice cream all day. There is a scene in ‘Django Unchained’ that I could try out with him in my dungeon – a kind of final warning. Anyway talking of being in a vulnerable position, I’ve said before that, wherever you are in the world, getting the right help to prepare and start your own business isn’t easy. Yet it’s just so important. Four out of five start ups survive longer than three years if they get the right help but as few as two out of five survive that get no help or the wrong help.
Snake Oil Salesmen
Once you’ve started you can plug into the wonderful Enterprise Rockers Movement and be helped by fellow micro business owners but who do you get to help you when you’re preparing to start up? It’s not helped by the business opportunity industry, including government schemes, all saying that if you start up with them you’ll be fine. Snake oil salesmen the lot of them. Often they just want to sell you something – ‘a loan’, ‘a bank’, ‘insurance’, ‘a pension (wtf!)’ ‘a franchise’, ‘a mlm scheme’ ‘a membership scheme’, a comms package’, a tech package’, ‘a mentor’, ‘a coach’, ‘an adviser’, ‘self employment rather than employment or unemployment’ and so forth. You won’t get a woman trying to con you like these guys. Who knew?
It doesn’t matter whether you pay for help or get the help free, from a government scheme or charity, but you must get the right help. Someone with more business experience than you is just not good enough. You might get an ex bank manager for goodness sake – thanks but no thanks. Checking qualifications won’t help you choose the right person either. My hapless and hopeless agent has mentor, coach, trainer and post-graduate HR and Marketing qualifications but admits all his qualifications and business experience were of no use to him in starting any of his totally rubbish businesses.
The Three Questions
So what I’ve done to help all potential start ups, in exchange for them recommending Stripping for Freedom’ as the must read book of the century, is give you three questions to ask an adviser, coach or mentor before you decide whether to work with them or not. Naturally, there’ll be other questions you want to ask to check if there’s a match, but always include these three:
1. Tell me about your business and others that you’ve helped start up and how they relate to the business I’m looking to start?
2. What do you know about helping start ups to bootstrap rather than borrow?
3. How will you help me to test trade so that I know that I can gain customers for my products/services?
Next time, I’ll tell you about how to fire your agent.
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.