[ 66 / 250 ] Business happens in front of people

Home truths of 2020


Ever heard of the $2 billion man, Larry Wilson?

He’s just released a book that I haven’t read, but I have listened to a deep and insightful interview with the man, published this week by copywriting king Ray Edwards.

At one point in the interview, admittedly while talking about his private jet, Wilson made the point that his businesses only grew the way they did because he and his teams were in front of their customers.

Like, all the time.

All around the US.

He was living in a rural area that wasn’t adequately served by flights, so he had to have a private aeroplane if he was going to meet his commitments.

Towards the end of the section, he lamented the fact that business has become an invisible, hands-off, teleconferencing kind of beast. Not the in-person, feeling their feels, seeing their bodies, and sharing moments kind of beast that it used to be. He worried that post ‘rona, this is going to get worse.

The man’s businesses are worth more than $2 billion.

He built it in person.

Let that sink in for a moment.

It reminded me of some of the best advice I ever received, about seven years ago, when I started my company. It was this:

‘Business happens in front of people. You can’t sit at home behind a computer and expect to build a business.’

Damn right.

The challenge is finding a way to be out in front of people without

(a) running yourself ragged

(b) wasting an enormous amount of time

(c) shafting your clients, especially if you’re in a services or creative business

(d) getting sucked into expensive cults like BNI that serve only their members, and not the broader business community

(e) going to events that are a waste of time.

It takes a while, but once you work out the valuable spaces to be in, they really pay off. And if you find ways to make yourself visible while you’re there, so much the better. I recall the first SouthStart Conference in Adelaide, which I went to (and couldn’t afford at the time). Brutal Pixie’s brand in the startup community was effectively established because I live tweeted the entire event; and that visibility has persisted.

One of the things that I’ve been doing over the past little while has been documenting some rules for my return to business life in early 2021.

One of those is to stay in front of people.

That will be challenging with a small bub, I am the first to recognise that.

Yet I am also the first to recognise that perhaps the challenge means that it doesn’t always have to be me to do it. If there’s one thing that a finite amount of time gives you, it’s the immediate ability to put efficient systems in place.

But also, wearing my rebel hat, I have to say that I ain’t going to be putting the kid in childcare.

Women bitch and moan all the fucking time that business culture doesn’t change, isn’t flexible, blah blah blah. And yet — and I say this having had first-hand experience of this — when given the opportunity to take their kids, they resist it and bail out of the event.

Become the change you want to see in the world, that’s the way I live.

Thus, I’ll be babywearing my way back to visibility.

People might dislike it.

Fuck them.

The rule is: Get in front of people. So while I am resisting the idea of selling anything in this last stretch of the pregnancy, simply because I don’t want to leave people hanging for six months, the rule on return is to do everything in person.

Larry Wilson might have been able to rock business his way because he had a woman at home keeping the fires burning and the kids educated.

And you, darling reader, might just see that I’m ambitious or ridiculous when I say what I’m about to say:

All it means is that I’ll have to break a shitload of conventions in order to do what I am driven to do. So, game on.