Wow. So January then. Cold, wet, grey, no alcohol, dieting, highest divorce month, no money, lots of cold and flu bugs doing the rounds, and political earthquakes quite unlike anything seen before. You could be forgiven for wanting to find an emergency exit. Luckily, it's February tomorrow. A short month. The month of love. And one step closer to summer.
But if you need something to look forward to, I have the perfect solution. A little something to stick in the diary as a beacon of loveliness: The Campfire Storytelling Retreat.
Here's a little taster of what it's like:
Imagine walking through pretty green woods at dusk. Candles in little lanterns flicker, lighting the path that winds through the trees. In a clearing, you find a campfire crackling and a bell tent decked in sparkling lights. You grab a hot chocolate (or glass of wine), before sinking into a seat under a toasty throw as you watch the flames dance.
You are with a small group of people. They, like you, have also escaped their office to head outdoors, to listen to the wind blowing through the trees and smell the tang of woodsmoke. You've spent the day outdoors, discovering what your business really stands for, where you want to take it, what your vision is. You've learnt what stories you have in your business that you can use in all your marketing. You've had a lunchtime campfire cook out and started the day with early morning yoga. Perhaps you had a chance for a one-on-one consultation about where to take your business or some downtime in the spa. And now it's time to unwind and just let go.
One by one, the group shares what is holding them back in their business. Or what they want from their business. You can feel the release as everyone realises that it's not just them who secretly thinks they're not good enough or that they'll never make it. You can feel the sense of possibility grow as everyone realises they have the freedom and potential to create something great.
Someone passes the marshmallows around. The moon shines. Tomorrow is another day of yoga, learning, walking and networking. You feel inspired and ready to take on the world. All is good.
The Campfire Storytelling Retreat is unlike any other retreat or business event you will go to. It is entirely unique. The value of the workshops alone are worth double the price of the retreat (which includes all your meals and private accommodation.) The feedback from last year's attendees was overwhelmingly positive. Here's a sample:
'The Campfire retreat was exactly what my business and I needed. Sometimes being so busy and involved with the day to day running of my business prevents me from seeing the bigger picture and this retreat gave me the time and space to really assess and plan for the future and the direction I want to take it in. From the incredible surroundings, the workshops, the people and Melissa herself it was an incredible weekend of getting back to nature, brain storming, business planning, and connecting with incredible entrepreneurs. One of the best business decisions I have made this year. ' Joy Zarine
The next retreat is 19 - 21 May 2017. It is in Otley, Yorkshire and is very easy to get to as it's next to Leeds Bradford airport and just 20 minutes from Leeds station. I want you on this retreat.
Give yourself something to look forward to and book yourself one of limited spots available. Full details and booking here.
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I want to tell you a story that may just help you if you are passionate about something but aren't sure how to make it a business. Or if your current job or business isn't inspiring you and you want to pursue something else.
In 2014, I read the book Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. If you're not familiar with it, it's about a woman who walked the PCT (The Pacific Crest Trail) on her own to help her work through some life issues. I had always enjoyed walking, but had never considered doing something as epic as that. But it planted a desire to do more walks.
One weekend, both my husband and children were away. I had a choice. I could spend the weekend working or I could do something on my own. Inspired by the book, I went to an outdoors shop, bought some walking boots and a waterproof jacket and decided to go walking. The radio issued amber weather warnings about gale force winds and torrential rain as I made my way to the North Yorkshire coast, but I was undeterred.
I set off from Whitby, walked to Ravenscar and then back to a hostel near Robin Hood's Bay, a total of 14 very wet miles, before returning the next day. I loved it. I had the path to myself, the wind and rain in my face and I felt free and happy. That weekend kickstarted my love of walking.
I began to invite friends to come walking with me, and we'd do day walks or two-day walks, taking just what we needed in our packs. I took it a whole lot further when I walked 192 miles over 14 days doing the Coast to Coast. I've since walked the circumference of the Isle of Wight, will walk the West Highland Way in April and will be climbing Kilimanjaro in February for charity..
My phone is full of photos of my daily walks. My cupboard is full of walking gear. I organise walks for friends and follow walking-related companies on social media. All the signs were there. I have a passion, a genuine love of something that makes me feel ridiculously happy without even trying.
Yet for years - as a business owner - I'd been trying to find my passion. And that's because I believed my passion had to be something that I was qualified in. I have certificates and diplomas and qualifications and years of experience in PR, Marketing and Small Business Management, but I have no such thing for walking. I have miles in my boots. That's it.
So I kept my walking as a hobby. Nothing more. I focused on my business. And while I am genuinely passionate about helping small business owners tell their stories and grow their businesses, it's a different kind of enthusiasm to the one I have for walking. It's a head-led experience, rather than a heart-felt passion.
Just before Christmas I saw a press opportunity for a magazine that wanted to talk to women who like walking. I responded and was interviewed. Being a PR person, I tried to shoehorn a mention of my business into the piece, but it wasn't a natural fit. And I realised that I was wasting a valuable PR opportunity. This was the kick up the backside I needed to take charge of my passion.
I'd had an idea brewing for ages but didn't know how to turn it into a business, so I ignored it. The idea was to formalise the name I'd given to the ladies I walk with and use it as some kind of walking related business. The name was Glamoraks (because we wore anoraks but were a little bit glamorous underneath the layers or Goretex). I realised that there was a gap in the market to reach out to women, probably in their 30s, 40s and 50s but could be any age, who don't see themselves as hard core hikers, but who don't want to be labelled as ramblers either.
I realised that I wanted to inspire women from around the world to get out and walk more. The benefits of walking are amazing - and so needed by women who juggle multiple stresses. I decided it was time to take my passion and turn it into something bigger that could truly make a difference in the world. Because walking makes women happy. And if women are happy, the world is a better place (ask my husband).
On Monday 9 January 2017, I set up the Glamoraks facebook group. By Tuesday I had created a website for it. Within a week the group had 220 members. They are sharing pictures of their walks, teaming up, finding walking buddies, inspiring others to get out there, getting information on kit and a whole bunch more.
I have no idea where this is going to go. I still have to figure out how to make this a business. I have a head full of ideas. And it's still a side gig to Campfire. But for now, I'm simply letting the community flourish. By embracing my passion, I know that the right ideas will present themselves to me. And one day it will become a business.
By the end of 2017 there were 800 members, the first Glamoraks weekend away held, the next scheduled and sold out in less than 24 hours, it's been featured in Top Sante, Healthy, Good Housekeeping, The Saturday Telegraph and BBC local radio. Big plans are in place for 2018.
So here are some tips if you want to run a business based on your passion:
If you are a women who loves walking, please join the group. If you want to turn your passion into a business and need help getting clarity, see my Clarity package.
If you set yourself the goal to get publicity in 2017, then this is your moment to make it happen!
PR, publicity, getting in the press - whatever you want to call it - is one of things that most small business owners would love to get. There's something about seeing your business featured in a magazine or newspaper or leading online site that makes you do a crazy happy dance. Because it reinforces that you've made it! All those hours you've poured into your business, and now it's recognised in the press. And that's just one reason getting publicity is great. Here are a few more:
- It massively boosts your credibility
- It lets a far bigger audience know about your business
- It brings in sales
- It positions you as an expert
- It opens up new avenues
- It reinforces your brand story
- It's free!
But despite all of those benefits, most small business owners don't bother trying to get in the press because they don't know how to do it and it all seems too difficult. It's not. If you know what to do.
I have created a course specifically for people like you that will:
I know that its easy to get beguiled by a course, buy it and then never do it. So I have created the Publicity Challenge. Without charging anything extra for the course, if you buy it before midnight on 22 January 2017, you will get:
So if you would like to join in the challenge, go to www.publicityforsolopreneurs.com.
Are you in? I would love to have you join me and I would love to see your business get the publicity it deserves. SIGN UP
A final note for Virtual Assistants: If you are a VA and have been looking for an additional revenue stream, offering PR as a service for your clients is a great option. Using the techniques outlined in this course, you can apply them to your clients, get them in the press and charge them for this new service. The course will pay for itself once you've got your first client signed up.