It is critically important for us as small business owners to know our worth, own who we are, recognize our competitive advantage and what is our unique selling proposition. Unless we have a sound knowledge of these key points no one else will acknowledge your true worth. It takes time to build your reputation, solidify your base and acknowledge who you are.
2014 seems so far away now when I left my government job. It was a good one with autonomy and influence across the province. People thought I had lost my mind, some questioned if I was eating, my close friends questioned my existence. There were so many doubts about how I would survive. Listening to those concerns, I even doubted myself during those long hard days. What I was selling, no-one wanted. Human Rights Education. People who I trusted, considered friends and colleagues in the business world turned me down. I had no business for ONE whole year. What I had were good people encouraging me to stay the course. My family were so patient with me. My children, even my son-in-law gave me money and kit-kat chocolate when the chips were down. Now that was tremendous to have such support. I recalled one person I was meeting for the first time took me aside and said there are days when there will be feast others will be famine but don't give up. I have always valued her wisdon and encouragement to this day.
Back then, I was the new kid on the block, struggling to get my name out there and trying to convince people that I can be trusted to go into their organizations and do the work that I had in my portfolio. It was not easy. Although I was known in my community and city, I was not known as a self-employed person. I had to build my reputation. After tones of rejections, I went back to the drawing board, found some advisors, listened, reflected on what I had to offer. Reviewed my qualifications and started again.
The terrain, in Nova Scotia is rough. And there are not too many people in the field doing the work I am doing. Buth never- the-less, the competition is great becaue there are so many well established people doing leadership development which is part of my portfolio.
I have had to push myself hard even when I did not want to. Demonstrate commitment and driven.I have done tones of work for free. I had to learn to be fearless, get a tough skin, accept no and closed doors Also, I had to learn to say no, even though it might be a lucrative the contract but if it comprimises my principles and values, I have to be bold and turn it down.
I am the face of my business and I have to promote myself continuously. Saying relevant and current in the market is critical to my survival. People would often say, I see you every where and that equates making tones of money. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is about working hard, building relationship, trust, understanding. It is also about being creative, innovative and open tonew ides. When I get turned down for a contract, I get disappointed like everyone else would but I try very hard not to think that because I am a woman of colour this is why it happened. I try to stay true to my values and integrity. I draw strength from my faith and belief that I would be provided for. Sometimes things get scarey but I try to remain positive.
I don't have time to waste and I am never bored. There is always so much exciting things to do. People to meet, new challenges and ideas to explore and boundaries to cross..
At this time of the year, I generally go back to my clients or seek to build new relationships. Two days ago, I sat down with a colleague, senior executive in one of the largest not-for-profit organizations in the province. During the course of our conversation, she told me that I was ahead of my time. The reason being, in 2015, I introduced Unconscious Bias training to organizations in our province. Now it has become popularized for a variety of reasons including the Starbucks Incident which led to all staff receiving implicit bias training in the US and Canada. But back in 2015, people gave me strange looks and asked me several times to repeat myself. It was like a learning a new language for all of us. I certainly did not see myself as being "ahead of my time" but I had to pause for a moment an allow what she said to wash over me. Thank you!
As I reflected on the future and what will come next, I have begun to talk about how we need to Re-imagine and Re-think Diversity and Inclusion, and how our workplaces will be transformed in the next 5- 10years, into the new age of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Currently, we talk about having five generations in the workplace and how that has impacted our relationships with the younger workforce. Now we will have to consider what kind of transformational change will take place and work environment. Now e will have to think about who else will have to accommodate or include at the decision-making table. At times we will not see the individuals, they will be in remote destinations, they may be overseas in a different country. How will we source talents? Particularly with the new wave of digital transformation taking place in some organizations. For example, we now have driverless machines, trucks as well as robots doing the jobs humans once held. Although some of this is not entirely new. For example, in the UK, have had driverless trains for almost two decade. The DockLand Light Railways liking the city to certain parts of East London.
New technologies are causing the shift to automation. Many of the jobs in the lower pay sectors will be lost. It is predicted that women and those from the lower educational background, in particular, will be among the biggest losers - recognizing that some jobs will disappear particularly those that can be done by machine and o not need humans to complete. Our new competitor will no longer the person in the next cubical but the technology in the cloud. This means that in order to be included and relevant, there has to be a shift in mindset and psychological thinking.
Do we re-think and re-imagine diversity, inclusion and digital transformation? Absolutely and fast.