Interview with Martin Baines, Founder of Martin Baines Learning Solutions - a company devoted to designing and delivering bespoke commercial learning and development programmes.
Martin has tons of experience - As a man who has been there, done that, he explains how vital it is to have a positive mindset when starting your own business.
1) Welcome to Business Spotlight on Introvert Thoughts. Can you tell us a little about your journey to finding your business online?
I’ve been in the world of Learning and Development and coaching for more than 10 years and I wish I’d done this job all my life, but I’m kind of glad that I haven’t! I’ve done all sorts of jobs in all sorts of sectors, from being a Holiday Rep in Mallorca, organising and managing all the travel arrangements for Professional Golfers on the PGA European Tour, working nights in Call Centres refunding lost and stolen Travellers Cheques (remember them?!) to selling golf memberships, golf days and events, working in b2b sales, retail sales, sales management and account management. All this experience has given me a great foundation to help others improve what they do because I’ve been there, seen it and probably done it as well! Now I help individuals and businesses in many areas, from customer service, soft skills and behavioural learning to sales, management and coaching business owners.
2) What was it like in the first week or two of starting your own business?
Honestly, exciting! Having a great reputation helped because I was able to pick up the phone and ask some of my good contacts and colleagues to open doors for me, and they did. It took me a week, no really it did, to decide on Martin Baines Learning Solutions Limited as my business name, and I remember having plenty of long discussions with a friend who put together my first website and did my initial branding about what to include and not include on my business cards!
Some may say I was lucky, because I had plenty of good contacts who were willing to help me; but I am a firm believer in making your own luck in life
3) How did you fund your business in the early stages?
Some may say I was lucky, because I had plenty of good contacts who were willing to help me; but I am a firm believer in making your own luck in life and the relationships I had formed and developed over the previous 5 years when in an employed role served me well when I ventured out on my own. I have been flat out busy now for almost 6 years doing what I do, so the impact of the recession and Brexit has not impacted me at all; in fact, when companies have a downturn, training is usually the first thing to be axed, but I believe that it should be the main focus; get your people armed with the tools that will differentiate them from the competition in hard times and you’ll be even stronger in the long run.
4) Who would you say helped you the most when you were starting out - and even now?
I was trained when I entered the world of automotive retailing and the person who took me through my sales accreditation programme became a friend and he saw something in me and gave me the opportunity to do something I had wanted to do for years, help others. He mentored me, helped me gain more confidence and he is now the first person I turn to when I need advice, or a kick up the backside!
5) What tips do you have for attaining new business as a startup?
Having been there and done it, so to speak, in sales, I’m a firm believer in the concept of ‘generating future opportunities to do business’ ... the sales funnel needs to be filled constantly and it often takes months, if not years, of effort to get someone to say yes to your product or service. When you’re starting off, it is vital that you leverage your current network; who do you know that will recommend you, point you in the right direction and help you.
6) Can you give our readers tips on how to make it past the 12 months mark ?
One of the most critical elements for anyone who is setting out as a business owner is ‘mindset’ ... it all begins with belief - I have lost count of the number of times I have said these 5 words to people, but they are so true! You’ll have challenges, of course you will, you’ll have times when you’ll think why on earth did I start this thing, but trust me, belief and the creation and maintenance of a positive mindset are half the battle, if not more. Every day we have a choice, every minute of the day we have choices, about how we are going to react to challenges. Work on you, always remember you can’t function without enough sleep, without taking time out now and again and having a business coach who is there to work with you is an invaluable tool.
7) How important is marketing to you?
It can be a minefield out there; there is so much we are told we must do; you’ve got to be on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, you have to blog, you have to post stuff ... I’ll use a Covey quote here ... “begin with the end in mind”. What is it you sell? What is your end goal? Who are your ideal customers and how will they find you? Put the groundwork in to research who you are targeting and be seen where they hang out - I don’t mean stalking them at work and the pub by the way, but do they use LinkedIn, what groups would they use and remember they aren’t interested in you and your business in the slightest (sorry to disappoint you, but it is true), they are interested in themselves and their business, so find out what their challenges are and have the solution they need. In a nutshell, make it easy for your customers to find you!
Martin Baines delivers sales training and business coaching to help clients make more money; He takes a no nonsense approach, creating tailored training and coaching solutions that just work!
Find out more by visiting www.mb-ls.co.uk or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org