Three M's that I Must Master to Run a Small Business
Updated: Apr 3
When I first started Halo, I had about as much idea of running a business as a goldfish has about running a marathon. But I’m nothing if not curious and eager to learn, so I jumped into the task with my usual gusto.
I knew that running a jewellery business wouldn’t involve just making jewellery, but all the books I’d read prepared me neither for the reality of it, nor for how much fun it would be. As time went by, I realised that there were a thousand things that I could do, but last year taught me that I wasted a fair bit of time on things that didn’t really benefit the business. So I slowly started figuring out the things that I absolutely had to do. These were summed up beautifully in a podcast that I listened to about the three M’s that any small business owner must master to make it thrive. This post is my take on the three M’s.
Making. This is the most obvious thing that has to be mastered. To start a business in anything, and be able to look people in the eye, you need to produce a decent product. And especially because I’m a small business, I have nowhere to hide. Every mistake is mine and reflects on me. It reflects on my skill. It reflects on my attention to detail. It reflects on my processes. And while there is no finish line in terms of learning how to make jewellery, there is definitely a starting line, below which you can’t even consider turning it into a business.
And I know I’ve said ‘making’, because that’s what I do. But this principle applies to service based businesses too. Their product is their service, be it a training course, a haircut, a blog or anything else – just because you can’t hold it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. In essence, you need to be good at what your business is about.
Marketing. This is the second big M, and one I definitely haven’t mastered yet. I could have the best product or service in the world, but if nobody knows about it and remembers it, my business will fail. So anyone who runs a small business needs to master marketing. I think I can say with utter confidence that a mediocre product which is marketed well will do better than a wonderful product marketed poorly. That’s how important marketing is.
Marketing is all about storytelling. Why? Because in an age where consumers are bombarded with information about the latest products dozens of times a day, it will be the stories that they remember. It's stories that make us feel something. Maya Angelou said "people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget the way you made them feel". She couldn't have been more right.
Do you remember all the Kings and Queens of England in chronological order? No, neither do I. Those are facts. But I'll bet you remember the what Henry VIII did to Anne Boleyn. That's a story. It makes us feel something; it evokes an emotion; it makes us take sides. They say that people are 22 times more likely to remember a story than facts.
So for Halo, I need to be able to tell my story well. Having always been a minuscule part of a large organisation's story, that wasn't mine to tell in the first place, I've never had to tell the story of my own business. I've never had to do any marketing. So this is new, and exciting and scary all at the same time. I get to learn something I know nothing about. I get to do something I've never done - what fun!
Myself. I saved what I think is the trickiest M for last. When I say ‘Myself’ I’m actually talking about my mind. It’s the M nobody really talks about because it’s the most difficult one to work on. Our minds are an absolute minefield of positive and negative thoughts, and the results we achieve are related to those thoughts.
I know what you’re thinking – that I’m heading into the land of ‘If you can dream it, you can do it.’ Not at all. I might dream of becoming the next Dalai Lama but that’s not going to happen, and I know that. So hear me out. I’d often heard about how our thoughts influence outcomes, but I’d never connected all the dots between our thoughts and the results of our actions. I was listening to a talk by a neural psychologist recently, and stumbled upon what she referred to as the STEBDAR model. I’m sure there are a zillion variations of it out there, but here’s what the STEBDAR model says:
Situations are factual, and are neutral. But our
Thoughts about a situation create our
Emotions. Emotions when repeated over and over again become our
Beliefs. Our beliefs influence our
Decisions. Our decisions determine our
Actions. Our actions give us our
Here’s an example that I’m living through right now. Look at the diagram below, and read the Situation followed by all the reds together, and then the greens. Can you see how the green interpretation of the same situation might lead to different results from the red one? I rest my case.
All three Ms play an important role in every business. But personally I think the last one is the one we really need to master. For a start, it’s the only one that nobody can outsource. Our minds are entirely our own. So much depends on the words we use when we are talking to ourselves, and about ourselves. For the first time ever, I recently introduced myself as a jewellery designer without making any reference to what I did in the past. That tiny difference is a huge leap for me. It means I'm slowly but surely letting go of a part of my identity that I had held for three decades. But I have very many such leaps to take before I achieve the mindset I’m striving for.
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