Hello world. My name is Stephen Dunworth, a 30 year old from county Limerick in Ireland. I am General manager of BlueChief Solutions (www.bluechief.ie), a new social media and digital marketing firm based in the @NexusUL Innovation centre at the University of Limerick.
Coming straight from University and jumping head first into a start-up with two of my best friends was something that I could not turn my back on. I relished the opportunity. Granted it did cause me plenty of pain and stress in my personal life. Telling your girlfriend of 5 years you are not moving with her to Dublin as we had planned is not the best conversation to have by any stretch of the imagination. That one certainly took a bit of getting used to.
I had to look at the bigger picture. Through BlueChief we were building our future. We want to create change and we are going to do it our way. As the old adage “No pain no gain”. No offence to anyone working in a business, organisation, MNC or SME, but I didn’t want to become just another “worker ant”. I wanted to contribute in a big way. Leave my mark on things and have lots of fun doing it with people I really care about.
The thought of starting a company was never something I gave much thought to. In fact, I often think back to my school days and wonder why is it that we were never encouraged as children and teens to become entrepreneurs. Not once can I remember any of my teachers speaking in this vain. People can argue that this is the parents job but quite simply I do not buy into that argument. Our parents went through the same education system and experienced the same process of backward education that we get. It is unfortunate because we need more people like @ShaneBlueChief and @KeithBlueChief who get up off their asses and take matters into their own hands. Our education system prepares us to be worker ants (There’s that term again). Wearing the same uniform, sitting in the same chair, not allowed to speak and sticking to strict rules. The fact that it is mostly memory based learning rather than practical education has a profound effect on how we turn out in later life. I can say one thing, the knowledge I have acquired at BlueChief over the past two years far exceeds what I learned in 4 years of college. Anyway that is a discussion for another day.
My role at BlueChief is that of general manager. In any business you have a role and a job spec for that role. In a start-up the same rules do not apply. Having a small team with a small budget means that I often have to wear lots of different hats. I had become immersed in this culture doing things that I had very little experience in, and I loved it. The thought of coming to work every day and learning something new is something that really excites me.
Anyway that is enough about me and my journey. For weeks I have been mulling over what it is I was going to talk about in my first blog post. What I decide was that I wanted to share 3 tips that we have found super beneficial for us and our business.
1) Build a strong network
One of the most important lessons I have learned has been the importance of building a good network. It is well known that a strong network is key to a good career and business. You can have a great team with a kick-ass product but without a strong network it can be difficult to build a business. @ShaneBlueChief and myself started networking in the very early stages of our time at @BlueChiefIE without a product to show anybody, just a vision and fire in our bellies. We learned very quickly that networking was not about getting into a room and handing out 100 business cards. It was about meeting that one person who you knew could open some doors for you. It became clear that to network effectively we had to be strategic in our approach.
Goal setting is an integral part of any successful business. From marketing to sales, development to networking. If you are not setting goals and targets then you are doing it wrong. We would set down our goals for the next 12 months and pin point the individuals we wanted to meet that could help us achieve these goals. This meant us keeping tabs on every networking event that was taking place in Limerick, Dublin, Cork and Galway. We would trawl through the attendee lists to see if the person we needed to meet was attending. We would travel the country to meet these people and quite quickly we were engaging with individuals who we had previously had thought would be extremely hard to get to. Oh and that’s the other thing, this notion that business people are hard to approach is nonsense. I have only met one person on my travels who was a dick and the rest quite frankly have been super easy to approach and great to talk to. All it takes is a bit of balls and having your story ready to capture their attention.
2) Always try to help others
“It is not true that nice guys finish last. Nice guys are winners before the game ever starts.” – Addison Walker
Life in general seems to be one big rat race. In all the hustle and bustle that is the business world people seem to be focused on looking after themselves. There is nothing wrong with looking after #1, but generally if that is your main priority then it can have a negative effect on your business. From the start of my time at BlueChief the thought of being able to help others was something that really excited me. I learned to never underestimate the power of helping others, not only does it create opportunities but it also brings a great sense of self fulfilment. I believe that if you can create significant value for your network and you can help them live a better life or accomplish their goals it can only have a positive effect on you and your business.
At the end of the day business is all about people. People buy people and it is people who will open doors for you. By having this kind of attitude it enables you to build a lasting or meaningful business. Not only that but I have found that helping others is contagious. Having a network who share the same philosophy can only have a massive impact on the local business ecosystem. The benefits are endless and business people should feel a sense of responsibility as their actions can have such a positive effect in the long run.
3) Don’t be afraid to ask
I remember speaking with my wonderful Mother in the early stages of my career at BlueChief. As someone who has many years of experience in the business world I am always eager to pick her brain on various topics. One simple thing that she said to me stuck in my head and I have put it to great use ever since. What was this great piece of advice you ask, simple, “Never be afraid to ask”. Be it for help or advice more commonly than not nothing bad comes from just asking. What’s the worst that can happen? Some see asking for help as a sign of weakness, but it isn’t. Being aware of your weaknesses is a strength in itself, and looking for guidance and support can only be a good thing.
I am sure that if you ask successful business executives they will tell you that on their journey to the top they perfected the art of asking. Be it asking for help, more business, referrals or information I believe that the act of asking is a key factor to success. Many have the incorrect mindset where they believe that by asking this shows weakness and may lead to rejection. Fair enough you may not get the answer you wanted but at least you tried, right? Be it on Twitter or at a networking event, in the pub or a coffee shop, if you have an opportunity to get information or assistance that can help you and your business then by god, take that chance.
P.s I want to include a song in each one of my posts because, well, because I love music and want to share great songs with great people. Macklemore – 10,000 hours.