What type of complainer are you?

It has been a while since I wrote my last article about “How can brainstorming help your business?” I have been thinking for quite some time about the next business-related topic that could be interesting for you, but today I decided to talk about something different. This is not business-related, it is human-related, although it can have important side-effects on business.

Today’s topic is “complaining”. I think I am a qualified person to talk about it, not because I am a psychologist with a PhD thesis on “Why we complain”, but simply because I am a complainer. When I hear people say “stop complaining, start acting!” I am sceptical. I think that complaining is a very human behaviour and it is a necessary step in each process of change. If we are not happy about our current situation, one of the first reactions is to complain about it. People who don’t complain exist, but I think they are just complaining inside themselves, without making it public. So, it is ok to complain. Don’t feel bad about it.

I said “complaining is a necessary step in each process of change”. Let’s analyse this better. Which phases should we go through in a process of change? This is my personal take on this:process-of-change-simplified

This is not an easy process and it can take a long time. I have been complaining and thinking for three long years before I realized what I could do to change my miserable professional life. Once I identified what I could do, I spent the following 6 months asking myself whether I really wanted to do it, looking for people who could help me, and resources/information to make sure I was able to start this new adventure. Then, I acted and things have been going pretty fast since then. Now, after four years, I feel professionally satisfied.

I think that what I described above is a healthy way to react to unhappiness. Nevertheless, many people remain trapped in the first three phases, in a “vicious circle”.

vicious-circle

Why does it happen? I don’t think there is an easy answer to this question, actually I think there might be a number of different, case-specific, answers (here a psychologist would really help… anyone out there?). Nevertheless, based on the people I met in my life, who were trapped into this vicious circle, I have identified two main behaviors that definitely don’t help. These are: 1. Closure to external help; and 2. Procrastination.

“Closure to external help” means that many of us prefer to find their way in isolation, only with help from the closest friends and relatives. We might be attracted by people who lend us a hand and offer possible ways out, but at the end we don’t take that opportunity, finding a lot of excuses for not doing so. Examples? “It costs too much”, “I am not sure whether this would really help me”, and the like. I totally understand you. There are so many people offering their support or services out there (new friends, coaches, events, consultants, workshops…) and we feel unsure, we don’t want to waste our money, we don’t trust these people, who we don’t know. On the other hand, I think that most of these options can bring you something valuable, when you are ready to absorb and process external inputs. You can attend an event and find out that it was not exactly what you were expecting, but you may hear one sentence from a speech that penetrates in your mind and kicks off the process of change. Or else, you may meet one person, who can become an important piece in the puzzle of sorting out what you want to do and how. If you just sit home, feeling unhappy, complaining and thinking, the process of change becomes much more difficult.

“Procrastination” is the second trap. We decide we want to do something (e.g. participate to a meeting that we find interesting, write an email to a person that we met last week, etc.), but we tend to wait, thinking that there is time to do that and that now you have more urgent things to do. Then what happens? You forget about the registration deadline of the meeting that you found so appealing; you are invited to your cousin’s birthday on the day of the event and, since your agenda is free, you accept; you realize that too much time has passed since you met that person and now it is too late to write that email, etc. I was a procrastinator myself and I lost so many opportunities that I worked to change that behavior.

Being trapped into the vicious circle has bad consequences both for us (because we continue feeling unhappy), and for the people around us: do you think it is nice to live close to someone, who complains all the time and does very little to change the situation?

If I had been opener to external inputs and less of a procrastinator, I am sure my process of change would have been faster and I would have avoided a lot of professional (and, as a consequence, personal) unhappiness. Even more importantly, my husband and children would have dealt with an irritable and frustrated wife and mom for a shorter time…

 

So, what kind of complainer are you? One, who prefers to remain inside the vicious circle or one, who decides to start a process of change?

If you are a woman living in Switzerland and your complaining has to do with your professional situation, here are some of the opportunities for you to kick off your process of change:

  • Do you complain because you don’t have a job, or you have a job you don’t like? REGISTER NOW to the business ideas brainstorming event (Zurich, 29.10.2016) and find – or refine – a cool business idea, which is right for you!
  • Do you complain because your business is not performing that well? REGISTER NOW to the brainstorming for small business owners (Zurich, 12.11.2016) and get answers and solutions from a group of women, small business owners like you.
  • Do you complain because you are not able to get things done? SEND ME AN EMAIL NOW to find out about Mastermind Groups, groups of committed women, who are there to support each other and keep each other accountable (upcoming info meeting in Bern on 22.09.2016)
  • Do you complain because you don’t like any of the initiatives above and would like me to do something different? SEND ME AN EMAIL NOW: you and I are part of a community, whose mission is to help women create their dream jobs, so please share your thoughts with me.

Don’t wait… don’t be trapped in your vicious circle… do it NOW!

How can brainstorming help your business?

In the last article, we talked about ways to generate ideas for your business and we mentioned brainstorming as one powerful method. This time we would like to better analyse the multiple benefits of brainstorming.

We start with a simple question: what is brainstorming? There are multiple definitions, but we particularly like this one: “Brainstorming is an idea generation technique to find a solution for a particular problem by generating multiple solutions”. This method (or better, umbrella of methods) can help answer many different questions. As such, it is useful both for people, who are looking for new business ideas, and for those, who already have their own business, but are struggling with a particular challenge. Brainstorming can be both an individual or group experience. Here, we focus on group brainstorming, because we think that, if structured properly, it can bring better outcomes compared to individual brainstorming.

If you are looking for an idea or a solution to a specific problem, you may question why you should join a brainstorming session with strangers, instead of simply asking your friends and relatives for feedback. Here are the most important reasons:

  1. Brainstorming boosts creativity…

Brainstorming sessions are built in a way that is specifically meant to generate creative ideas. For example, if your problem is to find a name for your business, the brainstorming facilitator may instruct the group to carry out multiple “exercises”. These exercises have the following two ultimate objectives:

  1. Generate as many ideas as possible, including crazy ones (crazy names are often the most successful.. think about Apple or Google);
  2. Filter the initial group and work with the remaining ideas (e.g. look for synonyms, combine words, etc.) to select the most promising names, among which you will choose the “winner”.

This process is likely to generate better name ideas than by asking your best friend, what he/she thinks a good name for your business could be.

  1. … and creativity helps your business

Although a business does not need to be creative to be successful (a good business is one that addresses a need), creativity surely helps standing out from the crowd. Think about a fast food. You can either open a standard fast food, or be creative and combine the need of a quick meal with something else that is appealing to the public (e.g. only use biological ingredients, or vegan, or typical products from a region, etc.). In so doing, you will attract not only those people, who need to eat something in 10 minutes, but also those, who like to eat in a certain way. I am thinking of a fast food I tried at the Neaples airport, which only served “mozzarella di bufala”, in three different varieties and presented in twenty different ways. It was constantly full of tourists, who were about to leave Neaples and wanted to eat “mozzarella di bufala” one last time before flying back to their own countries. This is an example where a typical brainstorming exercise (“combination”) can help you come up with a winning business idea by combining two different target groups.

  1. Crowd – thinking is more objective and surprising

People who are close to you (partner, parents, and friends) are likely to have a big influence on your business-related decisions. This has dubious benefits for at least two reasons: a. Their judgment may be biased (e.g. since they love you, they may discourage you from taking any risks); b. They are unlikely to surprise you with astonishing ideas, because you are used to their way of thinking (said in other words, they belong to your “comfort zone”). On the contrary, asking very diverse people, including “strangers”, to propose solutions for your business is likely to produce answers that are more objective and to generate ideas that you and your beloved may have never thought about.

  1. “Brainstorming” allows you getting to know other people much better than “networking”   

If you are looking for a business partner, or someone who can support your business in any ways, finding the right person can be challenging. Business networking events can help, but casual chatting does not generally allow going beyond people’s surface and understand whether they would really get along well with you. Brainstorming will unveil people’s way of thinking and, more often than not, their true personality. If a person appeals to you and is able to help you a lot with his/her ideas during a brainstorming session, he/she is likely to be the right person to work with in the future.

  1. Advantages of sharing your business ideas with others outweigh risks

Some people may fear that, after a brainstorming session, others will “steal” their business concept. That is a real risk, but ideas theft is not that likely, unless you are unlucky enough to share your ideas with some business predator, who has very little capacity to conceive something good on his/her own. Most people prefer implementing their own ideas, rather than stealing someone else’s. The reason is that a business can only be fun when it has to do with your passions and skills. Nevertheless, if ideas theft is a big worry, you can decide to keep the most important features of your business for yourself and only unveil those few aspects that people need to know in order to help you.

 

We have seen how powerful brainstorming can be. Of course, it cannot solve all problems that you may have with your business. Some questions may require expert judgment. This is why, when you have a well-defined business idea, combining brainstorming with an experienced consultant (e.g. a professional sparring partner) can really bring your business to fly.

 

Are you a woman and would you like to join a brainstorming session in Switzerland and meet a professional business consultant? Check Our Swiss Business planned events.

5 WAYS TO GENERATE GOOD BUSINESS IDEAS

What is the “golden rule” for generating good business ideas? Identify a need and a way to fulfill it. Hence, the key question you need to ask yourself is “is there something that some people need (although they might not know it yet) to make their lives easier / happier?” The world is full of unaddressed needs; your task is to identify them and think about possible solutions. There is no single way to get going: you can start from your own needs, pay more attention at what you see or your friends say, browse the internet, or join a structured brainstorming session.

  1. Start from yourself

Instead of thinking about what other people might need, the easiest way is to start from your personal needs. If there is something you miss, other people probably miss it too. If something bugs you and you find a way to fix it, your solution is likely to make not only yourself, but also other people happier. If you have three children and you wish you had two hours break to relax in a beauty centre, think about a step-in playgroup that is open every day (no reservation needed), or a beauty salon with a playroom and a babysitter always available.

On the other hand, a good business idea might not be the right business idea for you. The right business idea for you is something that would make you happy not just by using it, but also by realising it. If you can easily identify business ideas, but feel that none is “right for you”, then start from your passions and desires. What makes you happy? Make a list and read tip n. 2.

 

  1. Look at things from a different perspective

For each item on your passions’ list, you now need to experience it as much as you can. You wrote “hiking”? Then go hiking, not one, but three, five, ten times. While you are hiking, do something different from what you usually do. You need to change perspective. Instead of just looking around, set your mind on the “search for opportunities” mode. Do you see a group of Japanese tourists hiking with city shoes? Think about a shoe rental place in the mountain village where you took off. You are tired after 5 hours walk, but there is no warm place to sit down and drink a tea? Think about creating it. At the end of the day, write down all ideas you had while experiencing your passions and ask yourself “is this something that people would actually need?” and “would I be happy doing this”? If you answer yes to both questions, you have your first “right for you” business idea.

 

  1. Listen to others

Paying attention at what other people say can unveil important business opportunities. Your friend might have an idea but not know how to implement it; your sister could tell you about her problem and you may come up with a solution. Once again, if you keep your antenna up and your mind in “search for opportunities mode” at all times, you are much more likely to recognize good ideas when you stumble across them. When you find a potentially good idea, don’t forget to ask yourself the second key question: “would I be happy doing this”?

 

  1. Look for ways to boost your creativity

If you find it hard to identify a need with a business potential, or the possible solutions to a problem you have detected, this may be due to low levels of imagination or inspiration. We can all be inventive, but sometimes our creative potential is badly affected by the characteristic and foreseeable patterns of our life: we always hang out with the same people, talk about the same things, read the same kind of books, and so on.  Then you may want to schedule “creativity boosting” moments in your daily routine. You can find your own way: start reading a book just because it has a curious title, walk around your city and look at people, surf the internet randomly, read what your friends’ friends have to say on the socials, go listen to conferences on new topics that attract you. Whatever you decide to do, this should be a regular entry in your weekly agenda. Even one hour per week during weekends may work. Don’t forget to write down all ideas that your mind generates during these moments. One of them could be the right one.

 

  1. Brainstorm with others

If you are lucky enough to get to know other people who, like you, are eager to generate business ideas, brainstorming is something you should definitely try.  Brainstorming has the potential to generate a significant number of business ideas, including many “out of the box”, creative ones. In order to bring the desired results, brainstorming requires clear rules and methods, which should be agreed upon before the brainstorming session starts. I have led many brainstorming sessions in these last three years and I can assure you that no one of the participants has ever gone back home without a big smile on her face!

 

Are you a woman living in Switzerland and interested in brainstorming business ideas with like-minded women? If yes, check out our upcoming events!

5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD NOT BE AFRAID OF STARTING A NEW BUSINESS

Many people think, at least once in their life, they could start a business. Very few actually do it. There are many reasons why this happens, but the most important one is FEAR. People fear they cannot come up with a successful idea, or they are afraid of taking risks, or they are unsure about setting up a business with no experience, etc. We give you five reasons why we believe you should not be afraid. The following is inspired by the book Start Your Own Business, Fifth Edition“, published by Entrepreneur Press.

 1. Starting a new business doesn’t mean having a brilliant idea that nobody has had before

Do you think you cannot start a business because you have no brilliant ideas? Don’t worry. Most successful businesses are not innovative, but simply respond to a need. If there are 50 coiffures in your city, but none in your quartier, opening a coiffure shop in front of your house is likely to be a successful business.

 2. Starting a business is not rocket science

If you have no experience and you don’t know what you need to do to start your business, just write down a list with what you think it’s relevant. Then consider one row at a time and look for information. You can surf in internet, call offices, use the socials to ask people who might know the answer, or may put you in contact with the right people… Starting a business is a common sense process, it is just a matter of finding information and acting accordingly.

 3. People who try to dissuade you are not necessarily right

When you think you have a good business idea, talking to your friends and relatives about it is a good way of finding out whether it may work or how you may improve it. However, many people may look sceptic or may even try to dissuade you: your mom may say it’s too risky, your best friend may tell you she would never use the service you are proposing, etc. Before feeling discouraged, ask yourself if this person might love you too much to let you take any risks, envy your courage, or be completely different from the typical client that your business will address.

 4. If something doesn’t go according to your plans, it does not mean you will fail

If you are a conscious entrepreneur, you will analyse all aspects of your business and evaluate the risks (e.g. through a business plan) before taking off. Yet, it would be very surprising if everything happened exactly the way you imagined it. You will most likely find obstacles on your way and realize that you can’t stick to your plans. However, your plans are just… plans. Even for big obstacles, you can find a way around. Do you want to build original sport equipment, but banks do not give you a loan? Build 2 pieces at a time, sell them and reinvest the capital! It may take longer, but it can work!

 5. And even if you fail, it is not the end of the world

Closing a business after a few months is not a catastrophe. First, you are not alone: in Switzerland, about 50% of new businesses close within 6 months. Second, unless you decide to use all the savings in your pension funds as seed investment for your business (please don’t!), everything you may lose is some time and some money. Just make sure in the planning phase that, if things don’t go the way to hope, you won’t lose too much money or too much time and go for it. Failures are great ways to make some experience about what works, what doesn’t and why. Capitalize on this precious information and start over again!

 

If you are a woman and live in Switzerland, there is one additional important reason why you should not be afraid of starting a new business: you can count on the help and the brilliant minds of many other women like you.

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