Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Reilly feels the fear and brings Jive Lounge to BBW anyway - May 2013

If you'd never done anything that scared the garterbelts off you where would you be today?

I had one of those moments when I was asked to speak here today, so I decided not to wear them!

I’m a big advocate of feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

Book my mum read over and over again back in the 80s when she found herself without a husband and three school age children to raise and again when she decided to venture out on her own and start up a debt collection / private eye business, as you do when you're 55 and five foot nothing!

I'm only now beginning to understand the amazing woman she was and how doing things outside of her comfort zone shaped her into the amazing personality that she was… one that needed to have two funerals in two states when she passed away!

In my book that is the true meaning of success; embracing life, taking chances, being interested in people and asking what if?

These are some of the experiences that I believe have shaped me and made me strong enough to feel the fear of starting my business and doing it anyway.

You might be wondering well what's so scary about starting a dance venue. 

Well I'm here to tell you it can create quite an amount of fear when you have actually never done swing dancing or rock n roll dancing or any type of dancing for that matter. But I wanted to dance!

I needed to work and since I couldn't find suitable employment in my "trade" as a debt collector and legal secretary I started to look at what was missing in Byron Shire and what my other strengths were.

Party planner extraordinaire, I mean event management was a very big strength of mine! That combined with seeing that there was a niche demographic of people who wanted and needed an alternative night out to Cheeky Monkeys and the Top Pub! 

In addition to this I had an ace up my sleeve my husband is an amazing singer of 1940s and 1950s music!

Put them altogether and The Jive Lounge was born!

But back to the problem at hand the fear... How can I possibly do this, I can't dance, if I can't dance how can teach and how will people respond when they find out I can't dance and and and, what if, what if, what if..

This is where the "doing it anyway" part kicks in along with the collaborating with competitors and finding mentors!

So I can't dance or teach but I can create an amazing place for this to happen in, so I approached my closest competitors in Lismore and the Gold Coast! 

They can teach and they can dance! 

My now good friends Ray and Chrissy Keepence jumped at the chance to come and teach for me. They like me saw that if your competitors are successful then you will be too. It's good for business!

Its not cheap for me to bring Ray n Chrissy down every month to teach for me and be a part of The Jive Lounge, in fact they are one of my biggest businesses expenses, but without that collaboration I doubt The Jive Lounge would be as popular as it. Not only do they teach but they bring with them a whole network of people that are interested in the same thing. It is good for my business to be connected to their business. 

And now in fact The Jive Lounge is proving to be good for their business. They have seen that there is indeed a need for swing dance lessons every week in the Byron Bay area so they mow teach every week in Bangalow. This means we now have a two-way street, my Jive Lounge patrons go to their lessons and their students become my Jive Lounge patrons! 

The other dance schools, teachers and venues are also now thriving as more and more interest is generated in the scene.

I have seen this method work for cafes and now even in Bangalow we have a Vintage Co-op!

My top tips for collaborating:
  • Feel the fear and do it anyway
  • Establish a relationship and take time to get to know the other person.
  • Be respectful, considerate and friendly
  • Start slow and let the natural momentum move the collaboration along
  • Pick a collaboration partner with different but complementary skills
  • Keep in mind that collaborating with your competition doesn’t mean you give up being competitive when going after business. The most successful businesses, however, find ways to work with their competition strategically that is beneficial for both parties.
  • Referrals: If you receive an inquiry from a prospective client that does not fit your skill set or your plate is full, refer that prospect to a colleague instead of just passing on the opportunity.
  • Mentoring/Knowledge Sharing: You can start your own mentoring program, or help out a newcomer in the industry on an informal basis.
  • Joint Ventures: Have you recently launched a product or service that seems to mesh with the products or services of another professional? Join forces for double marketing, double reach and double impact.
  • The key to successfully collaborating with the competition is keeping an open mind and being willing to learn and share your own knowledge. If you go into any collaboration with that frame of mind, you will likely find success.
That first Jive Lounge back in September I had no idea how many people would turn up, I would have been happy with 20, to mine and my husbands and my teacher's delight I opened the doors to a waiting crowd of 70 people! Including by pure chance the world’s top swing dancer and instructor all the way from California!

It’s been a struggle, working out a formula that works for my business and the fear hasn't melted away completely but now I have my weekly dance lessons, a fantastic mentor through the NEIS/SmallBizConnect program, who I meet with monthly, my competitors who are now also my mentors and biggest supporters, my Dutch husband who appears to have no fear, a beautiful person named Tara spends her daylight hours as real estate agent and the rest of her time supporting me, teaching dancing and recruiting new people into the scene and of course the ladies of Bangalow especially Eve and Kylie.

Eve and Kylie's enthusiasm for what I do and what everyone does in Bangalow is contagious and helps to keep me going!

Feel the fear and lose the garterbelts!