As Fiona Duncan-Steer, founder of RSViP Business Networking Agency, celebrates thirteen years in business, she reflects on the key things she has learnt…
- Intuition – Follow it because it is always right – I have had to learn the hard way like many of us in certain aspects of business and when I look back, I realise that whenever something was ‘off’, I trusted the wrong person, or something didn’t quite go to plan, it was because nine times out of ten I ignored my gut instinct. Make your intuition part of your core values and unconscious strategy in everything you do.
- Dare to think differently – I have always leaned towards being different to others, in fact I have made it my life goal to be since I was a child, and whilst in childhood it can have its difficulties, as an adult this mentality can often manifest itself into the formation of leaders and I have no problem in setting myself apart from the crowd and daring to think differently. This very thing has allowed me to create a successful, long standing business and to become a leader in my industry – be brave.
- Stay true to your values – Your core values make up who you are as an individual, they are what you hold yourself accountable to, things you live your life by, things you measure everything against and I have learnt never to compromise on my values in any given situation and to stand steadfast in my beliefs – if something or someone does not align with my values, it’s a polite “no thank you.”
- Self-awareness – Having the gift of self-awareness often comes with experience and/or, if you are lucky, natural intuition and note that there is a difference between self-awareness and self-consciousness. Practising the art of self-awareness gives you control over your decision making processes, allows you to control your own pace and makes you a better communicator, all of which is something I practise daily.
- Work-life balance – There is nothing more important in life than finding balance and as most of us work, finding that balance can often be a challenge. I have experienced burn-out, stress, anxiety, and insomnia over the years and these do not make for conducive decision making and positive outcomes overall. Practising self-care is not self-indulgent, it is absolutely necessary to encourage a balanced and positive mindset – disconnect to reconnect regularly and watch your productivity grow.
- Time management – Something my schoolteachers always commented on and not in a positive light! Experience has taught me to prioritise tasks and to create to do lists which can be ticked off daily to encourage not only satisfaction, but motivation. I recognise that I work well under pressure, but it’s not always sensible to leave deadlines until the last minute to reach – allowing space and time to be creative is super important and a way more enjoyable way to work.
- Creativity is key – As a visual thinker this has always been one of my strongest areas and one I most enjoy. The message here is that you don’t need to be naturally artistic to get creative in business and I have made a career out of spreading that very message, encouraging anyone and everyone to tap into their creative side and to think innovatively in business – after all this is where the leaders hang out.
- Communication – Believe it or not it is an art and does not come naturally to everyone. As a natural communicator I have based my entire business around this very thing and yet I am still always learning and putting my communication skills into practise in various creative ways – it is by far one of my favourite aspects of my business and so important in the process of relationship management and self-care – keep those conversations going.
- Surround yourself with the right people – By this I mean those who not only align with your values, but that teach and inspire you. One of my favourite quotes states, “your network is your net worth” and I have spent my entire career building my network to which peers, suppliers, customers, and friends have been formed.
- Attention to detail – Again as a creative thinker, this is something that has always excited me – the detail in everything that is. The areas that many do not bother to delve into or highlight, the spaces in between, because that is where the sweet spots hide and where you will find your golden USPs, where innovation derives from and where inspiration lies waiting to be discovered.
- Expand your mind – You can never claim to know everything about everything, so self-development should be factored into your routine, whether it be reading books, listening to podcasts, watching webinars, or taking a course. Over the years I have invested in myself through all of the above and absolutely love learning and sharing what I have learnt with others. Learning is truly one of life’s greatest gifts.
- Be the authentic you – I remember in the early days of business when I was almost afraid to be myself for fear of not fitting into the corporate stereotype and it was exhausting. I once even attended a meeting at a beautiful stately home and found myself talking in a posh accent the whole time (but once I had committed, I had to continue) and laughed all the way home at myself at how ridiculous it was that I put myself through that – well never again! People want to know who you are – you are your own best PR, so stand tall and proud and let people see the amazing you.
- Feel the fear and do it anyway – Yes, this famous Susan Jeffers quote is actually my mantra and something I have held in my back pocket since taking the leap into self-employment in 2008. There have been many occasions in my early days when I turned work down due to imposter syndrome and it feels wretched. Something clicked in me a few years back and I no longer allow my fears to prevent me from moving forward. A biggie for me was my fear of public speaking – believe it or not a few years ago I hated it and avoided it at all costs. Now I speak for a living through my events, training and consultancy business and regularly take part in radio, television, and podcast interviews without batting an eyelid – in fact I actually love it now! So, I urge you to work on those insecurities and fears and find a way to overcome them because it really is possible – if I can do it, you can too.
Fiona Duncan-Steer, RSViP