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Edition 389 – Bula!

Late last week, I joined four other keynote presenters and the GSL Media team at their “Stronger” conference for their Sunshine Coast business owner clients, at the beautiful Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa, Natadola Bay. It was my first ever trip to Fiji and the hospitality of the locals, and the luxurious tropical surroundings, certainly didn’t disappoint.

Small and family business owners rarely have the opportunity to hang out with other business owners, in a “safe” environment, and learn from, and with, each other. I say “safe” as most business owners are very private about their affairs, their challenges and what’s keeping them awake at night. In that sense, they rarely have the chance to compare notes with others at their level, and seek the wise counsel of those who have trodden the path before them. Alternately, there’s a lot of learning in providing support to other business owners who are experiencing what some themselves have previously experienced. It’s all about not being alone, when often, life at the top in your own business, can feel exactly like that.

What GSL Media achieved through their conference, was not only a sense of camaraderie amongst everyone present, but an overwhelming investment in supporting the businesses that support them. As a first time presenter at a conference that has a long history, I could see just how valuable this event was for the client delegates, and how much they valued it.

Often, when we’re in business, we have little chance to talk “entrepreneur shop” with other business owners. Perhaps you might share a meal at a function with another business owner, albeit for 90 minutes. Or, maybe you’re fortunate to have a close relationship with another business owner and you have, over time, a sense of trust open up between each of you whereupon you can swap ideas and some war stories. However, to spend almost three days, side by side, means the conversation can get a little deeper and, when the guard is lowered, more meaningful.

That’s why it’s often at the instigation of others that we come into contact with like minded types, to expand our business learning. We wouldn’t ordinarily do it ourselves. It needs that push from someone else. In this case, the common link was that all the delegates were clients of GSL Media, so the sense of connection was immediately apparent amongst everyone whether they themselves were first timers, or were repeat visitors.

I spoke intimately in a series of one-on-one sessions with almost 20 small and family business owners during my time in Fiji and what it reiterated to me is that, irrespective of whether you’re a restauranteur, a solicitor or a construction company, your issues are surprisingly similar to each other. The businesses can be vastly different, and whilst there are nuances to each industry, most of the reasons why business owners find themselves awake at 3am, staring at the ceiling, are very, very common.

If you’re the owner or manager of a business, who are you hanging out with? What are you learning about being in business and who are you learning it from? What are you doing to deliberately build your skillset as a business owner, not merely the technical skills of whatever it is that you do in your business? Are you making the time to talk with other business owners that aren’t in your industry, to see things from a different perspective?

This Week’s Tip

Often, we learn more about our own business, from others outside of our industry, than from those inside it.