I’ve been watching the Amazon Prime series ‘Vikings’ whilst packing up my house for an upcoming move and I am thoroughly enjoying it. As I sit there watching a modern retelling of an age of savagery and farming, I can’t help but think about my business and the evolution over the centuries that has brought me here.
The need for change
Now, at first glance it may not seem like there is much in common, I certainly can’t remember the last time I sacrificed a cow to ensure a bumper harvest or bathed in a river with the rest of my village. What I do see though is this. In order to survive and thrive, cultures and civilisations constantly evolve and develop new and necessary skills.
Change does come at a price though. It can generate fear and frustration amongst some people because change in and of itself is scary. It’s the mental and emotional version of the physical growing pains we experience in our early years.
How is the Viking era relevant to today?
For me the correlation between all this is the advent of digital technology and how it has changed the way in which I and indeed, all businesses work. I am after all sitting on my sofa in my comfies writing this for you, I will upload it to the blog on my website and it will be a matter of moments before anyone in the world can access it.
Anyone in the world.
And that my friends is the digital, millennial equivalent of taking to the seas and discovering new lands. Industrious minds that see a need become start-ups, they take months and sometimes years to develop an app or an algorithm from that seed of an idea.
That technology is then launched into the world to connect and inspire and be successful. Like the conquering heroes of yesterday the success brings fame and riches, think Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg or and iPhone and Steve Jobs. The law of inevitably means that these things will also evolve and what was once king in it’s own right will one day be usurped by something else.
After all, time moves forward as only it can.
Changes in our lifetimes
The world is different to even 20 years ago. At 17 I remember the unearthly tones of the dial up connection being made and the necessity for fax machines and dot matrix printers in the offices in which I worked. They were the size of a cabinet and made so much noise. I was sure it would always be that way and it felt as close to immediate as we could ever get. How wrong I was.
Floppy discs held a mass of information that we could carry from one place to another in our briefcases, it was technological advancement as it’s finest, an era that brought with it the mobile phone, yuppies, working mothers climbing the leadership ladder and communication advances that, back in the age of Vikings, would have been seen as godly or dark magical forces.
Yet, just 20 years later, the majority of us don’t use fax machines, floppy discs or dot matrix printers anymore, well I certainly don’t in my life or business. The mobile phone and internet have gotten faster, broader and more expansive. The high street and manufacturing industries are forever changed and often I wonder what the history books will write about this age of ours and what I will see when I look back at it over the next 20 years.
A decade ago I had no idea how to build a flexible business that worked for my life not against it. I was great at my jobs but felt I could do better, do more and should be sharing my skills. I just wasn’t sure what platform to do that on, an employed one or a braver one.
As the internet improved and manufacturing and commerce moved into the digital world businesses had choices, more than ever before. But they weren’t always comfortable choices. Businesses often felt that accepting those changes came down to a choice between being irreplaceable or being replaced.
I can’t tell you what is the ‘right’ thing but I can say that my business relies on things changing and the virtual reality of the last few years has allowed us to be more flexible, to work on a global scale and to broaden the scope of our businesses in ways we wouldn’t have comprehended even a few short years ago.
Going virtual is here whether businesses like it or not and even the small one man bands are leveraging the power of the internet. Businesses are using social media as their shop window and as a way to communicate with clients who are potentially, anywhere in the world.
That. Is. Amazing.
I used to work in an office with a group of other women effectively in a ‘secretarial pool’, a large portion of my working day was spent running between offices, to the fax machine, making teas and coffees and manually collating reports. I was often the first one in the office and the last one to leave and I loved it but it was also unsustainable forever.
Now, I provide skilled business support to multiple businesses (often in my pyjamas). My meetings are held via Skype or Zoom. The only drinks I make are for myself and my reports are produced and issued via email. I communicate with my clients daily by WhatsApp and my shop windows are my Instagram, Facebook and my website. I work around my other commitments and the balance for me and my clients is far far better than any role I have ever had. I do not sit here lightly thinking I have it made.
I am dedicated to learning new skills, improving the ones I already have and keeping abreast of current trends and it’s my belief that this will allow me to continue to provide support and evolve over the coming years.
What about you?
Can you think of the ways that you have ‘gone virtual’? Are you on social media? Do you have a website? How often so you use email?
Are you pioneering your business in this new age or are you hoping that evolution stands still and that somehow, your business will survive and thrive whilst remaining exactly as it is in this moment?
Thanks for reading,