What a start to the event season it’s been! Proposals and projects, yes, however I’m not just talking about work, I’m talking about the sheer volume of information we’ve been exposed to over the last three weeks. Business effectiveness seminars, referral marketing meetings, training sessions, networking events and even VAT seminars (thanks to the UAE government for that one!). I feel like my mind has been well and truly blown!

Sitting here writing this on a humid Monday evening in Dubai, surrounded by project paperwork, invoices, concept boards and a stack of other people’s business cards, it’s hard to imagine not being at the helm of the H.M.S. Remarkable. My life as a Marketing Director in London and Sydney’s media land seems like a wonderful, yet distant memory. The world I occupy today is one of new experiences, every, single, day. New business pipelines, pitches, proposals, P&Ls, supplier meetings, warehouse visits, banking, accounts, HR, training, legals. You name it, as business owners, Victoria and I are across it all.

It’s been hectic and overwhelming at times, but as with everything, there are lessons to be learned from each experience. Here are our top three truths from the last three weeks:

Truth No. 1 – Owning A Business Is Emotional
There’s an old adage that says, “It’s not personal, it’s business.” Well sorry, but I’m calling b*llshit! Undoubtedly running your own business is extremely personal and is about learning to deal with a gamete of emotions on a daily basis. Excitement. Fear. Happiness. Euphoria. Stress. Success. Joy. And yes, even failure. A real mixed bag. But it’s how you channel these emotions that really matters. We truly believe Remarkable’s ongoing success is closely linked to our ability to take each and every one of these feelings and turn them into an opportunity for growth. To refine, rethink and make our business even stronger.

Emotional intelligence is increasingly cited as being a must have trait for business leaders. I truly believe that the most successful individuals have that inherently built into their DNA. Often starting as a one man (or woman) band, entrepreneurs shoulder so many emotions and responsibilities on their own. It’s not surprising then that when their companies grow and their employee base grows with it, that they take such care to nurture and protect their people. They’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

Truth No. 2 – It’s Ok To Ask For Help
I think it’s safe to say that any new business owner has times when they question their decisions, their strategies, their ability to turn conversations into business. I know I have. Our first year has been great, we’ve achieved so many of our goals and produced work we could only have dreamed of when we set out on this journey. But that doesn’t mean to say we have it all figured out. Far from it. As we look down the barrel of year two, and reflect on our journey, it’s obvious that there are areas we excel in, and areas we don’t. So instead of sticking our heads in the sand, we decided to do something about it.

A valued supplier and friend of Remarkable put us in touch with an organisation that focuses on bringing business owners together, to help each other succeed. Having attended a number of meetings over the past few weeks, it’s safe to say the flood gates have been well and truly opened. From those meetings, we’ve met so many likeminded business people, from every corner of the business landscape, not just our own industry. We’ve been invited to (and attended) more networking events, seminars, workshops and social events from that first initial meeting than I thought was humanly possible in such a short period of time. We’re even contemplating our own! An events company hosting its own event? That’s madness, I hear you say! 😉

Each new experience has brought with it new opportunity. A contact. A supplier. A project. It’s like I’ve always said, people do business with people. I preach that to clients and prospects all the time, when I’m explaining the power and importance of face-to-face interaction in today’s digitally-focused world. Why wasn’t I practicing what I preached?! Duh, Rikki!

The thought of cold calling makes my skin crawl. As a busy Marketing Director, I used to dread picking up the phone, hoping and praying it wasn’t going to be someone I didn’t know, trying to sell me something I didn’t need. The beauty of the new world we’ve been exposed to (and warmly welcomed into) these past weeks is based on the notion that referral marketing is a powerful tool at our disposal, but only if we have the tools to utilise it effectively. Business owners, helping business owners. People helping people. It seems SO obvious to me now as we venture off down this exciting path, but hey ho, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Truth No. 3 – Doing Is Not A Strategy
We’ve all heard the “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” concept, right? How about “work smarter, not harder?” Yup, seen that one on Instagram too. Clear strategy is the foundation of any successful business. Without it, we’re just running around like busy fools, focusing our valuable time and efforts on the wrong things. Doing more does not equal doing better. In order to formulate an effective business strategy, we need to go back a few steps.

A great friend and ex-colleague from my time in Sydney, the wonderful Sarah Wyse, is to this day one of the most inspiring people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. She’s supportive, encouraging, tough, inspiring and helps develop your skills, not by giving you the answers, but by making you realise you had the answers all along. A real leader. Sarah was the person who really hit “strategy” home to me. If memory serves, an ex-boss of Sarah’s taught her the four main components of strategy and she kindly shared it with me (likely over a glass of Central Otago’s finest Pinot Noir). Obviously this is a very simplified framework, but in sticking to this formula, you can’t go far wrong:

1) Where are we now?
2) Why are we there?
3) Where do we want to go?
4) How are we going to get there?

I’ve also added my own point around measurement:

5) How are we going to measure results? 

I did originally include the word “success” instead of “results,” but I think it’s important to measure the good and the bad. As I said earlier, everything’s a learning experience. If something didn’t work first time, use the five steps again and formulate a new strategy. Simples.

Seems pretty straight forward when it’s listed out like that, but most of us (me included) often jump straight to number 4, the implementation. We’re so focused on being successful, growing a business, fixing a problem, that we just start doing. But why are we doing what we’re doing? Is what we’re doing right? It’s a lesson I’ve relearned this past year and one we’ll take with us as we dive once again into the Dubai event season. Being busy is great, working on projects and bringing in business is essential, but developing a strategy to see us into year 2, 3, 4, 5 and beyond, is absolutely vital.

Until next time!

Rikki Webster is Co-founder and Managing Director of Remarkable, a Dubai-based event management agency, delivering outstanding creative projects with care, precision and flair.