I remember standing in a bookshop and staring at all the marketing and business books promising to make me a millionaire and turn my business into a 6 figure mega bucks machine. I leafed through them and, while I am sure they had their merits, they failed to inspire me. If your mission in life is 'to get rich' I would think very carefully about whether starting your own business is right for you, because money alone won't be a big enough motivator during the hard times or the really really hard times.
I was sitting at a table across from my long suffering production manager Jonny when we decided on one thing: 'let's just be ourselves and tell people - this is who we are' , lets just be honest about our talents, our goals and our work ethic.
It was Richard, Candle & Bell's geek in residence, that handed me a book that finally spoke to me. This is the entrepreneur I want to be. It was called 'Soul Trader' by Rasheed Ogunlaru. If, like me, you've tried (and failed) to be inspired by all the 'how to build a successful business' books out there then I suggest you give this one a whirl.
If you resent the 'cold-calling', quantity over quality attitude to doing business and don't want to go down that road yourself then 'Soul Trader' will have some useful insights into how to sell your services or products. The reason being, is that this book isn't just about running a business. It is about who we are and how that influences the way we do business, and the way we are successful (or not!) at connecting with our clients and our employees. One passage that I found particularly encouraging was in the chapter entitled 'Conversations'.
The alchemy of converting conversations into business has service not selling at heart. You're changing the entire spirit and dynamic from 'selling' to 'offering' something. It is a subtle but potent shift in mindset, language and approach.
Before setting up Candle & Bell I worked as a freelancer for 10 years. As a freelancer you are technically running a business - selling your services and marketing yourself, however, forming a company and creating a vision and a plan to grow that company is, undoubtedly, more complex. The moment Candle & Bell was formed as a company making video and animation, selling business to business, my mindset had to change.
Unlike many business help books there is no prescribed list of 'to-dos' in Soul Trader, rather, Ogunlaru encourages people to draw on their personal strengths and understand why they are running a business in the first place and use those values as a spring board toward building a business that is purposeful as well as commercially and personally enriching. Split into 8 chapters entitled Clarity, Customers, Courage, Cooperation, Conversations, Creativity, Compassion, and Change, the book asks you to understand yourself, your motivations and strengths and how to make the most of them in order to become a successful entrepreneur.
If you're starting your own business or have been in business for a while and feel you need a fresh perspective then I encourage you to give this book a go. It isn't over-crowded with business jargon and scary milestones. I think if there is one text that has influenced the way we sell, market, and interact with our clients then 'Soul Trader' is it.