Trying to plan for your business? It’s time to let your mind wander…
Summer is nearly over and for me, autumn is a time of fresh beginnings after a well-deserved break.
I’ve just been on holiday and, while away, I made a point of not thinking about my work or career. I relaxed on the beach, ate good food, read dozens of new books and made plans to spruce up my old Triumph Herald.
I decided to do something about that car at the beginning of August. Sadly, she’s been sitting in my garage for the last two years because I’ve told myself that I’m too busy to do anything about her.
Also, I’d never changed a clutch before – and, after reading up on it in my Haynes manual, I decided that it looked like a grim old job.
I faced up to it, though, and bought a new clutch and pressure plate. I got the gearbox out from inside the car. I removed all the recalcitrant bolts with the aid of some penetrating oil (PlusGas is magical stuff if you ever have the same problem). Then, after fitting and aligning the new clutch, I got the gearbox back in.
Hey presto! The car moved again. Happy with that result, I went off on holiday and made plans to replace touch up the paintwork, replace the door seals, fix the sunroof, change the differential oil and so on.
What I didn’t plan on doing was having lots of ideas about growing my business. Yet that’s exactly what I did.
Let your mind wander – there’s opportunity in it!
One minute I’d be researching classic car specialist websites in search of headlining, or retaining pins for door handles, or cellulose paint.
Then I’d realise that I used to have a client working in the same area as one of the suppliers I’d just researched. I’d start wondering what they were up to, so I’d quickly send them an email to say ‘hello’.
Soon afterwards, I’d have a phone call arranged with that former client to discuss a possible new project for the autumn.
Next I’d be looking at carburettor parts and remember that I once did some work for a client who specialised in electronic devices that tuned engines to your specifications.
Again, I’d wonder what they were up to and send them an email. Again, I’d soon have a phone call in my diary followed by a catch-up meeting.
I soon learned that, by not actively thinking about my business, I’d have ideas and fresh perspectives that I wouldn’t otherwise have. By taking a few minutes to act on those ideas, I could generate new business.
Ideas strike when you least expect them
Obviously, you don’t have to have an old car to come up with these ideas. Letting your mind wander in a non-business direction should do the trick – whether you want to play golf, plan some DIY around the home or simply go for a refreshing walk.
For me, though, the car has an additional benefit. When I’m busy working on it, the ideas flow. Yesterday I overhauled the carburettor, taking it apart, cleaning it and replacing all the perishable rubber parts. While I was reassembling it, I finally managed to come up with a fresh approach to a copywriting project I’m working on.
I’d gone from cudgelling my brains to solving the problem – all by letting my mind focus on something else. Give it a try: you’ll be surprised by the ideas you’ll have when you’re not trying to force your mind to come up with them
Business advice with THP
Here at THP Chartered Accountants we can help, offering a range of accountancy services and business advice to help your small business move forward from bookkeeping, VAT returns, cloud accounting (Xero and FreeAgent) and much more, contact us today. With offices in Chelmsford, Cheam, Wanstead, Saffron Walden and London City.
About Ben Locker
Ben Locker is a copywriter who specialises in business-to-business marketing, writing about everything from software and accountancy to construction and power tools. He co-founded the Professional Copywriters’ Network, the UK’s association for commercial writers, and is named in Direct Marketing Association research as ‘one of the copywriters who copywriters rate’.