Welcome to Spark!

First of all, welcome to Spark! The online resource to help you achieve success in all areas of your life. This is a journey, not a destination, and the goal is to enjoy it all the way along, not screech towards the end goal before realising you now actually want something really different and missed enjoying the whole process!

So, are you in the right place for you?

Are you looking for someone who will tell you to meditate, start a feelings journal, light candles, or any of those softly softly approaches to success? If so this probably isn’t the right place for you. Success takes work and those ‘four hour work week’, ‘lets visualise and it will just happen’, approaches simply don’t work. There is no magic wand, no-one will hand it to you, you aren’t entitled to anything. You have to work for it! Some of you may be switching off at this point thinking I’m a bit harsh, thats totally fine. Everyone has their own way of working and there will be someone else out there for you, more aligned to your way of going for your dreams. If you’re prepared to put in the hard work and determination to achieve your goals and you don’t expect me to sugar coat it for you, then let’s get stuck in and do some WORK!

The biggest thing to remember, is that it’s only success if you’re happy, if you aren’t, start looking at why and make changes…

Sarah x

Making the Most of Business Events

*First published on the Sarah Hurley blog in 2016*

SH NETWORKING

If you’re not a natural networker or social butterfly, business events can be a scary prospect! but there is truly no better way of connecting with people and getting your business out there, as well as getting in front of those people you just HAVE to meet. People buy from people, its a fact, so having met you in person, that email, sample product, proposal or phone call will be much better received than if you went in cold. I’m not a natural at this, the first time I went to a trade show by myself I rushed round and got the heck out of there as quickly as possible! Now, I love attending trade shows and really look forward to being there. I remember being invited to my first ever networking event, I didn’t know anyone and the prospect of walking up to a group of people and introducing myself made me feel a bit sick, now I make it my mission to meet at least 3 new people – not too daunting! and I often meet lots more. So here are my tips for making the most of your next event…

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  • Be Prepared!

Make sure you know where you’re going, what time to be there and your route, turning up late and flustered will only make you feel worse! If you’re early you can grab a coffee or go for a walk around the block to calm your nerves. Research the event, know what the purpose of the event is, who will be there and if you can email those you want to meet beforehand letting them know you’re attending and look forward to meeting them. Finally, take lots of business cards!

  • Have a chat up line

OK, not really! but you should have a short snappy intro that doesn’t sound cheesy or salesy. Start with your name, your company name and a brief summary of what you do. Like, really brief, one or two lines if you wrote them down. I remember meeting someone at an event once who told me the whole story of her, her products, every element of her brand, by the end I’d tuned out and couldn’t even remember her name – let people ask you questions to find that out, then you also know what they are interested in and can structure your answer! For instance, I once met someone from a large retail chain, I COULD have stormed in telling them every single fantastic product I make and could supply them, instead I told them my chat up line, something along the lines of ‘I own a group of companies in product design and development, licensing and publishing in the creative lifestyle sector’ they asked me if I could design products for them – not something I’d ever considered but actually better than what I’d have pitched! Listen more than you talk, it’s a winner!

  • Tell them it’s your first time

When you receive your invite, let the organiser know it’s the first time you’ve done anything like this but you’d  love to attend, ask if they have any advice. Quite often, if they know you’re on you’re own, they will catch you as you walk in and introduce you to a couple of people to get you going. Let them know it’s your first time too and they will often keep the chain going – pretty soon you’ll have a whole bunch of new friends! When I organise events with CHA-UK we always look out for people on their own and make sure we look after them, as an organiser we want people to be happy and get the most from the event so they come back!

CHA UK One Big Show Morning - Sarah Hurley

  • Set a Goal

You won’t want to break it! Whether it’s to introduce yourself to one particular person or set a target of how many new people to meet, you’ll be fired up to reach that goal. One trade show I attended a few years ago I set myself a goal to meet a particular person. I was so nervous that day and REALLY wanted to go home, it made me march up to that person and hand them my business card just so I could get out of there! When you set yourself a goal, you’ll make yourself do it so you don’t let yourself down, remember why you’re doing this!

  • Make eye contact

Don’t spend the whole event looking at your phone, look around, look for other people on their own or in smaller groups and make (non-creepy!) eye contact and smile, you’ll find that all people on their own at these events tend to find each other and remember, everyone in there wants to meet new people too!

Thanks for dropping by today!

Sarah x

Making the Most of Business Relationships

*First published on the Sarah Hurley blog in 2014, CHA UK is now AFCI UK*
Today I want to talk a bit about Business relationships, I’m often asked how to find clients, work with clients or deal with difficult situations, so here is my advice…

Equal Partners…

Like any other relationship, business relationships should be a partnership. This can be tricky when you’re starting out, trying to impress or make connections and you desperately want to prove yourself and get a foot in the door, often you’ll find yourself agreeing to crazy things just to get a ‘yes’ from that client you desperately want to secure “20,000? in a week? at cost price? oh go on then!” yup… been there! In the end, is it worth it? no! Set boundaries, work in a fair time, for a fair price (this isn’t always money – I’ll come to this later!) and make sure you get at least some of what you want out of it  (compromise is fine, backing down is not, don’t lose yourself) – also be realistic, if you don’t get everything done in that time and let that client down, thats the last you’ll see of them! Someone I admire in business told me that despite being offered a pretty big deal at the start of their business, one they really wanted, they turned it down but stayed in touch with that company, when they were properly ready they were on good terms with that client and had an impressive track record to be able to negotiate what they really wanted – win / win!

If you walk away feeling like you’ve been shortchanged, resentment will set in, you won’t do your best work and the relationship will become difficult. It’s also very difficult to negotiate up again once you’ve agreed to work under crazy conditions – why would they pay you more or give you more time when you’ve shown you can do it in less time cheaper?

It goes both ways…

When you’re more established, don’t push relationships from the other side squeezing people for every last penny or second you can – it will only create bad feeling and fraught relationships. I know some management styles are the very bossy / pushy / lead by fear ones and maybe that works for some in the short term (though it never has for me, I’ve always left any job / client / supplier that has made me feel like that) I find from my own experience the best way to develop relationships is on an equal footing, my team are fully part of the company and we work together, no suggestion is too small to listen to, we all learn every day – never make the mistake of thinking you’re too good / important / busy – to talk or listen to someone, I promise you, you aren’t, no one is! Over the last few years I’ve met some very successful business people, the confident, happy, secure ones will always speak to you and treat you as an equal, the insecure ones living in fear try to make you feel small, don’t be one of those ones! As they say – be nice to everyone on the way up because you might meet them on the way back down…

Don’t be afraid to walk away…

You don’t have to burn your bridges, just a simple ‘this doesn’t work for me right now but this experience / discussion / meeting has been invaluable, lets stay in touch and hopefully we can work together in the future’ is a powerful thing, it shows you can stay in control of your own destiny, that you’re confident and you have something to offer

Don’t push it…

In my experience if you have to push too hard, it’s not for you (yet!). Thats not to say you shouldn’t fight for it because you ABSOLUTELY should!! Getting where you want to be is extremely hard work, I won’t pretend it isn’t, but if you’ve tried something from multiple angles and you just aren’t making headway, if someone you need to engage is just not receptive to you or if you have that gut feeling that every time you try again you feel smaller and smaller and smaller, it’s time to walk away. That doesn’t mean it’s over forever though. You’ll often find as you become more experienced those doors open a little bit easier, just hop back a few a steps and try again! You’ll also find that those doors that just keep slamming in your face are not the ones you really want once you start making progress anyway – I always say things happen for a reason and if you’re being pushed away from something it’s usually guiding you towards something else thats better!

It’s not always about the money…

Not every good relationship is about the money. Thats not to say you should always work for free, of course we all have bills to pay and last time I checked, they won’t take publicity / art supplies / a mention on a blog as payment on account! However, in the beginning of your career, working for free is a great way to build up your client list and your supplies. I chose 3 companies I loved when I started out and offered my services for free, in return I got boxes of art supplies I couldn’t have afforded at the time, an impressive client list and lots of valuable experience! All of those also led in to being paid jobs for me at a later stage.

As you move on it can also be good to carve out a specific portion of time each month to do free stuff – maybe something for charity, an organisation, for good PR, in exchange for supplies or just because you enjoy it!

In their shoes…

Networking is a great way to meet people, this can be done at specific events (in the craft industry CHA UK organise some fantastic ones!) or just by getting in touch with people – social media makes this even easier for us now. People often email me to ask for advice on their crafts or business and I’m only too happy to help people wherever I can. However, if you do this then try putting yourself in their shoes, the cheeky and sometimes downright rude emails I get with messages like “how do I get your clients” to “this is urgent, please answer straight away” are most likely ignored!

Hold on tight…

Once you establish a good relationship, keep it! Sounds easy, right? It’s all too easy to let your regular people slip because something new and shiny comes along, so you put off your regular person to chase the new opportunity – bad move! Word spreads fast (faster than you realise!) and new clients will always look at your track record – be loyal to those who were loyal to you – thats not to say you can’t move on, but if and when you do, do so properly and respectfully.

and finally… Communication is key!

Looking for something specific? tell them. If your client thinks you just want to create something for them in exchange for supplies, thats probably all you’ll get. If you want promotion / guidance  / advice then tell them, most will only be too happy to help!

I really hope thats helped and answered lots of the questions I’ve had recently. I love hearing about the businesses you’re venturing in to, it’s a very exciting time! – don’t forget CHA-UK or CHA are great organisations if you’re starting out in the crafting world, sign up for lots of help and advice.

Thank you for dropping by today!

Sarah x