‘Do something you really care about, and do it because you see a need for the product or service you provide’

I love to help people achieve business success, and Sage Summit is a great place to do that. The annual Sage Summit is billed as ‘the largest event for small and medium businesses’. It hosts some 15,000 delegates. Sage, who provide accounting, payroll and payment software and associated support, use the Summit as a showcase for their products.  It’s also an educational event for current and prospective clients and partners. There are exhibits, talks and demonstrations from a wide range of individuals and businesses. The Summit aims to help everyone’s business to prosper and grow.

Chicago beanIn 2016, Sage Summit was held in Chicago. I grabbed the opportunity to do a little sightseeing before embarking on the serious business of the week! It’s a wonderful city, full of architectural features. These include skyscrapers, a concert hall, fountains and this famous Cloud.  As a keen gardener, I also particularly enjoyed visiting the Lurie Garden. This prairie garden forms a little haven in the middle of the city.

But eventually it was time to turn my attention  to the Mentor Neighbourhood at Sage Summit.

The Mentor Neighbourhood – what’s that?

I joined a line-up of experts working in the Mentor Neighbourhood at Sage Summit. Here delegates could meet business experts, attend talks, or book half hour 1:1 sessions to tackle issues relating to their business. My role was to coach new and would-be business owners. I helped them to:

  • clarify their business vision,
  • articulate their strategy and
  • set concrete actions that would move them forward.

I love those ‘ah-ha’ moments when I’m coaching someone and they make a connection, realise there’s an alternative approach, or achieve clarity from confusion. One person I saw at the Summit had been struggling for months on her project. We brainstormed options together and she was delighted and relieved to identify a simple solution!

The conference also hosted some great speakers. Well-known entrepreneur Richard Branson featured alongside people better known in other fields – Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashton Kutcher, to name two. Gwyneth is the founder of the lifestyle platform Goop and Ashton is an incredibly successful investor in start-ups, with companies like AirBnB, Skype and Uber in his portfolio.

Richard, Gwyneth and Ashton all stressed how important it is to be passionate about the work that you do.

‘To me, business isn’t about wearing suits or pleasing stockholders. It’s about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials.’ – Richard Branson

Then there were inspirational leaders such as Vicky Gosling, CEO of the 2016 Invictus Games, who was interviewed flanked by Invictus competitors. It was humbling to hear them talk about the hurdles they overcame to achieve their goals.

My three top take-aways for business success

As always, you get out what you put in. Although I was there to help others, I learned a lot myself from attending the Summit. So here are my top three tips:

‘Ignite your passion’ – this was the theme of the conference and a thread that ran through all the talks. It’s a timely reminder that when we work on or for something that really, really matters to us, we can achieve incredible things.

Do YOU love what you do? If not, consider what action you need to take to improve the situation (and check out my book ‘What’s Your Excuse for Not Loving Your Job?’)

‘Love the problem, not the solution’ – this insight was shared by Todd Connor, CEO of Bunker Labs (an organisation that helps military vetarans to start businesses). He reminded us to focus on what needs to be fixed, and how best to fix it, rather than being attached to our existing way of doing things.

Does the service or product that you offer really meet a need? If not, why are you doing it?

‘Use all the support you can get’ – these wise words came from Ashton Kutcher. He encouraged us to find mentors, coaches, advisors, business partners and to make maximum use of them for practical help, moral support and guidance in our work.

Do you have a mentor, adviser or coach? If not, it’s time to get some support.

Take action now!

Seek out people whose values you admire and whose work you respect, and ask them to be your mentor or adviser.

If you feel the time is right to have a coach, great decision! Contact me to arrange a chat and we can explore whether I’m the right person to help you.