When time is tight and money is tighter…

The two biggest hurdles to getting anything started are not having enough time or enough money. Wait, let me correct myself – enough time or money to get it finished. We can start quite cheaply. Picking up a pen to note your idea costs nothing. So if time or money doesn’t stop you starting something, how do we get over the fear of not being able to finish it?

Jar of Coins cropWith lots of money, you can pay for things to be done quickly. The opposite is also true – when money is tight, you can spread the task over years if you have to. A friend of mine, realising they couldn’t get a loan to do up their entire house in one summer decided to make it an on-going project. Five years later, the transformation is remarkable. They got it done – it just took a little longer.

So when you have neither to play with, consider 3 things:

Is it worth doing now?

Take a long, hard look at what you want to do and why. Is it something that could wait? At least, could you delay the most expensive bits of it until later. You may give yourself a better chance of success by taking more time to get your affairs in order. After all, very few businesses make a profit within its first 18 months. Putting it off and planning how you can make the most of your money and time later might be your best bet.

Are you worth it?

Take a long, hard look at yourself. Could someone else invest in you? Do you have what it takes (except money and time) to make this happen? Do you have a good reputation in this area? It could buy you a lot of favours and discounts. A colleague of mine is struggling with a project because they’ve upset one too many people in the past and have a bad name. That works against you when you’re in a tight spot and need a break. With money or time against you, ask advice from people with whom you have a good reputation. They may be able to help you out. Otherwise work on being of ‘good repute’. It might mean repairing bridges and eating humble pie. That may take more time, by the way.

Is anyone else doing it?

Take a long, hard look around you. Starting up on your own isn’t always the best answer. Is there someone else doing something similar? Could you get together and get it done? Not only could it help with your money or time, you’ll also get the benefit of their experience. There’s nothing like avoiding those rookie mistakes to keep a project on time and on budget.

Not having enough money or time isn’t a reason not to start something. Do as much as you can with what you have – then stop if you have to. It’s always easier to pick up where you left off than beginning from scratch.

Foreword: Understanding Leadership

I was recently asked to write a few words as an introduction to a book. I thought I would share it:

Like any discipline, Leadership is a journey. It is a process of time and experience, belief and will, trial after failure. The leader you’re going to be is entirely based on your unique set of physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual settings. Often it can be in spite of those same traits.

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A great teacher once said that project management is like juggling eggs. In that same context, Leadership is ensuring those eggs don’t fall. Part of your roles as a leader is directive; giving each egg enough energy and direction to go up in the air. There is also a role to delegate; to let go of the eggs with the secure knowledge that because you have understood the properties and abilities of your eggs, you can allow them to travel through the air unaided. You trust that they will come down where you expect them to. That is also the final part of your role. You are there to catch and support them when they come down.

If you have little experience of being a leader, that description may seem odd to you. After all, aren’t you the one who is in charge? Aren’t you the boss? The head honcho? The if-I-say-jump-you-say-how-high guy? Those are only effects of good leadership. You become the respected and listened-to one because you are a good leader. It’s not the other way round. Those come because you are recognised by your team as someone who can keep everyone on the winning side. Acting important without mastering good leadership is like trying to cough enough times so you can catch a cold. It’s not going to happen. You will meet those kinds of people on your journey. No one wants to work with them.

This book lays down the rudimentary foundations of the aspect of leading spiritually. So here’s the first secret… all leadership is spiritual. Managers can get away with moving tasks and targets around with money or manpower to get the job done. A leader relies on trust, hope and faith in their team and their desired outcomes. Understanding the areas highlighted in each chapter will bring you closer to mastering the full set of spiritual tools needed to be a winner. Think of these as the top line headings and use them as a template to explore deeper your own style of leadership – no matter what your beliefs are.

There’s one final thing to say about your journey into leadership. If you have to tell people you’re a good leader, you’re not a good leader. They should know what you are by the way they interact with you and feel when they are in your team. Think of it another way, do you ever wonder about the DJ in the club who is constantly telling you to get up, get on the dance floor, put your hands up, make some noise? Well, if they were a good DJ would you not be doing those things already? If they have to remind you to get on the floor and enjoy yourself, surely there is something missing.

I wish you the best for your leadership journey and pray that your ability to believe, unique personality and leadership style are so naturally fused that everyone you work with never wants to leave your dance floor.’

Re-rewind when the crowd says Bo!

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One of the things I loved about growing up in the 90s was discovering ‘The Rewind’. That moment at the party when the crowd responds loudly to a song and the DJ spins it back to the beginning. Oh man, that was a lot of fun. However it was often not so much fun for the DJ whose responsibility it was to get that moment right. There’s nothing more tense than a rewind followed by an  awkward silence while he (or she) struggles to find the beginning of the record. Trust me, it’s a lot of pressure when you’ve got a room full of eyes glaring at you while they wait for the party to start again.

The last few months have felt like a long rewind moment for me. There’s been the excitement of retraining for a new career, taking on new projects and new responsibilities. At the same time, there’s the angst around trying to refocus and head off in a brand new direction. 

You see, the rewind bit is relatively easy. You can stop doing what you were doing… with the right motivation. Maybe it is the promise of a brighter future or the relief from a challenging past. However the tricky part is setting yourself up doing something new. There’s likely to be questions like: 

  • Will I make it in this new venture?
  • Is this the right decision right now?
  • How will I match the financial or emotional security of the previous job, and of course
  • What happens if I fail?

Just like the nervous DJ, you have a number of tools at your disposal to help make the resetting and restarting process as painless as possible. DJs have their headphones, and all kinds of meters, markers and faders which when used appropriately helps them get the party restarted with little interruption to the good vibe. 

This months’ mailer is dedicated to all who were going through a period of Rewind, Reset and Restart. So, welcome to the party :-) and watch this space.

First Steps to Social Enterprise 2014 course launch

Olmec Empowering Communities invited Ruth Amarquaye to be part of the panel of speakers at the launch of this year’s First Steps to Social Enterprise with the aim of ‘Inspiring BME Women Into Enterprise’.  This launch was a free event with lunch provided by a successful participate of another Olmec course, and of course the opportunity to network and find out about the stall holders.  On the panel there was John Mayford, Director of Olmec; Makeeda Hewitt, Programmes Manager at Metropolitan Housing, Ruth Amarquaye of Ideas Genius; Caroline Odogwu of She Is You UK, Bala Thakrar of Naitika and was chaired by Annetta Bannett (Empress Nia Jai) of Impact Diversion.

Each member spoke of their involvement with Olmec and Ruth shared about her experience during the course:

“Right from the start of te course we knew got on when myself and two other ladies got under the table to fix it in place so the wobbling didn’t distract us from learning.  It was a group which felt more like a family and I am most grateful to Sam Obeng, or Uncle Sam as he became known as and Nathan Brown for going the extra mile to ensure we understood our legal forms and responsibilities.  Ideas Genius did not go on to becoming a Social Enterprise, but we have successfully embraced social aims and are working towards being a success business. Thank you Olmec.” Following the speaking, various people offered a workshop which gave a taster to elements coveredon the 12 week course. These included Nathan Brown, Sam Obeng and Nick Howe, Enterprise Manager of NatWest Business Banking.

Applications are now open for the next cohort of the First Steps course and we will encourage every BME Woman who has a dream of being in business to apply.  Even if you do not end up as a Social Entrepreuneur, you will end up as an entrepreuneur who makes a social impact.  You have until 31st August to submit your application and you can find out more at Olmec’s website