One of my most rewarding clients was a nun.
Patty Grasher was a nun who lived in a convent for 28 years. And I was rather surprised when she signed up for one of my programs about 15 years ago.
She blew away my pictures of what a nun in a convent does with her time!
Apparently, she was the author of several books and ran a radio show part-time. And she was highly entrepreneurial, wanting to know how to market her books more effectively.
And like most entrepreneurial nuns, she also got stuck in her marketing, not knowing what to do next.
So she attended a couple of my Marketing Action Groups and made great progress.
Fast forward several years and I hear from Patty again. She had left the monastery about ten years ago and had also gotten married and started a career as a freelancer.
I talked to Patty last week because she was considering attending my ABDO Program.
What became clear very quickly was that she was not ready for the program yet because she hadn’t really nailed down her business direction.
She was doing some part-time web design and was working on some ideas to create publications for businesses. She certainly had the experience.
But what was missing was a real business focus.
So we brainstormed for about an hour and explored the possibilities. The business idea she was considering didn’t look as promising as she’d hoped and she was uncertain about what to do next or where to start.
We’ve all been there. We have a lot of talents and ideas but we can’t put them together into a business that makes sense.
I wish I could say that I handed her the perfect business idea that she could launch immediately and realize quick success. But I didn’t.
Instead, I told her the following:
Patty, you have a lot of valuable talents, you are a hard worker and want to make a difference. The problem is, you don’t know who your clients really are or what they need.
You could certainly make up a service, choose a niche and get out there and promote it with energy and passion. But what if the marketplace doesn’t need what you offer?
You could waste a lot of time and spin your wheels.
You need to do some research to understand how your current talents and abilities will fit the needs of businesses out there.
And there’s only so much you can do online. Yes, you should give Google a workout to see what you can find, but I’d recommend something else that’s even more important.
Meet business people. Interview them, have conversations with them, learn about their needs. And see if you can find a match between what you can do and what they need.
Here’s the plan we outlined:
1. Do some searching for local businesses. Use the chamber of commerce, or other business associations.
2. Call them and ask them if you can interview them. Tell them you’re not looking for a job or even selling anything, but just trying to understand the needs of the market.
3. Your call would go something like this:
“Hi, I’m Patty Grasher and I wonder If you could help me? I’m doing interviews of local businesses to better understand their needs. I used to be a nun – for 28 years. But I was also an author of several books, a radio host and a web designer. I’m working on creating a new business that uses those talents, but trying to understand the actual needs in the business community. I’m not looking for a job or even trying to sell my services, as I don’t have a business yet, but simply trying to understand the needs of local businesses. Could you spare 20 or 30 minutes for an interview?”
Now, we’ll see how it goes. But I think this approach is the right one because nothing can substitute for speaking to a real, live person.
Patty will learn about companies’ needs in the areas of publishing, web design, and podcasting, and a number of other things.
And these conversations will give her new ideas. She’ll also be able to run ideas past those she’s interviewing and see how they respond.
I predict she’ll discover needs she never knew even existed.
One thing I know for sure, when she finally formulates the direction for her business, watch out. She’ll work with passion and commitment to make it happen. Never underestimate someone who’s been a nun for 28 years!