04. Overweight, Old, and The Heathrow Injection
I was approaching my 40th birthday and I was a bit disappointed that I wasn't experiencing that mid-life crisis that everyone bangs on about.
I have never had a problem with my age, except maybe for thinking that I am older than I really am.
Anyway I was approaching my 40th and I was happy with that, but was feeling a bit annoyed that I was overweight, I was feeling sluggish and clothes shopping was no longer fun.
If we go back a few years, I got what was known as the 'Heathrow Injection'.
It's a common thing that happens to all Antipodeans when you land at Heathrow on your 'Big OE' - Overseas Experience.
You are made to have an injection at immigration that makes you fat.
No, it's not the drinking culture that does it, it's not the stodgy food that goes along with the pub culture, and it's not the indoor lifestyle and lack of exercise either.
It's definitely that injection.
Anyway, as time passed and I was having fun in my newly adopted country, I got slowly fatter and fatter and fatter.
By the time I was pregnant with my daughter I had gone from 62kg to 88kg.
And although I did lose a lot of weight after I gave birth and the 12 months following, the injection obviously had a recurring effect and I started to get fat again.
I made a decision that it had to stop and I wanted to be fit and fabulous by the time I was 40.
Now one thing about me is that I am competitive. I do love to win. And I perform better if there is an audience.
So I decided that I needed to perform in one of the biggest sporting events in the London calendar - The London Triathlon. And I would do it with a team, to make myself accountable, and I would do the swim section, because at the time swimming was not my forte (never mind that I had never run more than 50 meters in the past and I didn't own a bicycle), I thought that was a discipline I could learn and really do well.
I had 12 months to do it. My first swim was in our apartment pool, a lovely indoor heated pool that very few took advantage of.
I didn't make it past 20 meters before I felt like my lungs were going to explode and I was going to drown. But I persevered and I also started an exercise regime and a diet.
And guess what?
I got fit, and lean and I swam the London Excel docks and it was freezing cold and I cried.
But I did it.
The thing is being overweight didn’t happen over night, it took time and no effort to cultivate those saddle bag thighs.
Being fit enough to swim a 1500m race also didn't happen over night, it took time.
It is the same with an unsuccessful business, it doesn’t fail over night (even though the final event can be swift and catastrophic, like brake failure, downhill, on a poorly maintained bike), and despite the rags to riches stories, it doesn't succeed overnight either.
So why do some businesses succeed whilst others crash and burn?
You would expect that running a salon is pretty simple, and all should be successful.
After all, you have a genuine market - people need to have their hair done - you have the skills to give the clients what they want, and the salon industry has been around for centuries so it is a viable business.
But there are salons that close within months, or a couple of years, and the owners are more than often left with less than they started out with. You most certainly do not want to be in this category.
So why do some reach the dizzying heights of continued success and others close their doors on a bad experience?
It's the same question as why are some people slim and fit, whilst others are fat and lazy. It's also the same question as to why some of your staff are better at what they do than others.
I warn you that the answer is both simple and boring but no less relevant.
Businesses are successful when they find what works and keep repeating it.
Told you, boring and simple.
'What works' applies to both marketing of the salon and the operations of the salon. It usually comes down to a surprisingly small number of actions repeated daily and a certain attitude embedded in the culture of the people who work in the business (this is also true for one-man-bands).
The emphasis here is that it is finding the things that work (through good old testing and measuring again).
You are not going to be successful if you flog a dead horse or do what others are doing and not understanding what it is that is working.
If you are struggling to get business through your door or retaining your clients you need to look at your behaviour.
All other things being equal:
- You can’t expect different results by repeating past behaviour.
- You can’t expect different results from everyone else by copying their behaviour.
- You can’t expect extraordinary results from ordinary behaviour.
- Extraordinary success requires extraordinary thinking and behaviour.
If you have engaged in Facebook likes and shares for the past 12 months and you have no new business or way of measuring new business from it why are you repeating it?
If you run a campaign with a 'discount voucher company' because everyone else is, you will get the same results as them (price-buying chavs and commoners, customers who have very little loyalty, and fed-up staff).
You need to go out on a limb here and stop what 'everybody else is doing', because if you are like all the other 'me-toos' in the industry you will be treated the same and get the same results.
The thing is, there are very few problems you can’t solve with good marketing and systems.
Good marketing gets customers in the door, and good systems retain them. This allows for unlimited cashflow and I am sure that is exactly what you want to hear.
Imagine your business with a steady stream of clients you like, who are willing to pay what you are worth, and not giving a dam about what salon x down the street is doing.
When you engage in the type of marketing that I do and my members do, your competitors become irrelevant.
Indeed if you adopt the mentality, your competitors are irrelevant already.
But more on that anon.
P.S. Have you ever learnt to drive in a new country? I have.
Or rather, I learnt to drive in a sane country 30 years ago, and had to relearn to drive in the insane country I currently call home.
The thing is, I not only had to learn to drive on the opposite side of the road to what I am used to, I also had to get used to a different driving style and a whole load of new rules.
And I use that term 'rules' rather loosely.
You see when the beliefs of the population are rooted in the idea that an omnipotent Mr Tickles is watching over you from the sky, and your fate is in his hands alone, there is no self-accountability.
And that makes for a very interesting school run.
No self-accountability is another reason businesses fail. When blame is apportioned to things beyond your control, you very rarely succeed.
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