6 Things I’ve Learned

A few days ago, it kind of felt like I was the only person in the world working. A combination of Glasgow Fair, staff being on holiday and the whole South Block Building having a bit of an empty eeriness to it. As I worked away – I couldn’t help but be distracted with a conversation I had with our team the day before. I asked them to take some time and study each other to look for just one thing that they thought they admired and could bring into their own games to be that little bit better as professional designers.

Of course – as I asked this of them – my mind raced to some of the brilliant lessons, ideas and habits I had picked up from colleagues, mentors and some  inspirational people that I had listened too in previous years and how much certain ideas had helped me.

I’ve credited the people who shared these wonderful ideas with me at the end, and they are in no particular order. But for keen followers of Scottish Business – you can probably guess who said what?

“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Quite possibly my favourite bit of advice and one that completely transformed my attitude to sales, customer service & business in general. I was the guy that would arrive at the client’s office or boardroom and send the prospect to sleep with 40-50 slides of what they were doing wrong and if they only, only listened to me – they could do it so much better. I am sure my arguments were intellectually sound but you can probably guess how much business I won. A big fat zero. I got used to hearing ‘don’t call us – we’ll call you.’ Once I learned to shut-up and learn what the client was wanting to do and spend my energies helping them to find a solution to their challenges that we started to get some movement.

As a neat follow-up – “Don’t sell to the company, serve the individual.” Maybe not the exact words but the message was similar to the previous one. You have to look after the individual and not the entire company – unless your proposing a company strategy – that is their business and not your problem. Have faith that the person you are looking to work with understands their company and their requirements better than you ever could – you must remember that it is a human that signs off the order at the end of the day and you had better build a rapport with them. The better you serve and understand them – the more quickly you’ll be trusted with more.

“Don’t take health advice from a doctor that is always ill.” Another brilliant one – it is amazing how much we open our minds to the opinion of the day or the person that shouts the loudest. Quite simply – if you want to be good at sales – learn from or ask somebody who is good at sales, if you want your company to be financially robust, ask somebody who has a financially robust company, if you want rapid growth – ask somebody who has done it. There are so many talkers, gurus and ‘thought-leaders’ out there. Analyse their results in a particular area and decide for yourself whether that is what you want for yourself in that area. Otherwise, question any advice they give you.

“Go out and speak to 100 customers now!” Absolutely brilliant – it is amazing how often we fall off-track by falling-in-love too much with our own products and services. Brutally honest feedback from customers is usually the much-needed bringing back down to earth that helps us all to improve our businesses and get better.

“Treat your clients budgets as if they are your own” I think this one is absolutely brilliant for anybody that wants to build long-term relationships with their clients, and long-term business is usually the holy grail. If you are prudent and offer value to your clients in the short-term, you will more likely to be trusted with more in the long term.

“See your business in three time-zones. Too many short-term decisions and you’ll make less mistakes but never grow, too many long-term decisions and you’ll never get any momentum and you need momentum. You have to work to succeed in the present day, a month ahead and in a quarter’s time.” This one was a real eye-opener about the importance of balancing long-term and short-term success.

And finally, a little analogy that I absolutely love…

“Building a rapid-growth business is a bit like building a racing car. You want everything to be poised on the absolute limit. If you put too much horsepower in one go, you’re going to blow everything at the same time – there won’t be adequate cooling, the tyres will blow, the suspension won’t cope – it will be an absolute mess and you won’t know what to fix first. Go the opposite direction and over-engineer each of those things for power you don’t yet have – and you’ve got a tank and not a race-car. I think there are a couple of messages here – firstly, do everything in logical increments – do them quickly – but have some kind of order. And fix today’s problems today and worry about tomorrow’s problems tomorrow – if you’re really going to go fast – there will be new problems for you to solve every single day.”

I absolutely love these and hope some of my fellow entrepreneurs find them handy too.

A huge thank you to (and these are in no particular order…)

Jim Duffy, E-Spark
Stuart Macdonald, Seric Systems
Jim McColl, Clyde Blowers Capital
Bob Keiller, Ex Wood-Group
Colin Robertson, Alexander Dennis
Iain MacRitchie, MCR Holdings

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Benedetto is an enthusiastic Creative and Business person.

‘Design with soul’ may be the company tag-line, but to Benedetto, it is also a way of life. He believes that creative and commercial enterprise is about purity of thought, honesty of construction and boldness of execution.

He believes in bringing out the true essence of human endeavour and considers his job of articulating the great work of people and companies an absolute privilege.

His journey has taken him from a career in car design through to his current role as the Founder of the loft, a design and branding studio based in Glasgow.

He is honoured to manage a great team, work with great clients and have a lot of fun mixing with so many great people in business.