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June's Start-up Challenge: Week 3 - The awkwardness of asking

June's Start-up Challenge: Week 3 - The awkwardness of asking
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Posted: Fri 28th Jun 2013

StartUp Saturday alumni June Mineyama, founder of Mamimu Tokyo, is documenting her progress for us as she seeks to take her pattern business from idea to launch in just 12 weeks. This week, June reflects on the difficulty of asking for favours and discovers that perhaps it's not so hard after all.

Start-up Challenge | June Mineyama of Mamimu

This week it's all about communication, writes June (left). First I'm going to write how to go beyond the awkwardness of asking business favours and then I'm going to share some hot tips from a social media guru I've been in touch with.

The awkwardness of asking. I hate it. I never want to bother anyone for anything. Let alone asking my seemingly selfish business requests like: "Could you possibly pass me the details of a good manufacturer?" "Can you give me some tips on how to gain more of an audience on social media?" It's awkward to ask a stranger because... why should they bother and spare some time for a random stranger like me? It's awkward to ask a friend because it seems so selfish and I don't want to jeopardise our friendship. It's awkward to ask an acquaintance because they don't really know me and I don't want them to think I'm being pushy. OR am I making excuses not to do the job properly? Um...yes, probably...

Ask, Seek, Knock - The Start-up Bible

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7 Okay, I'm not religious but I'm familiar with the Bible because I went to a Catholic college in Japan. And the old Matthew is now my new business Bible. Be proactive, display action, JUST DO IT and the door will be open to you - he said that way before Nike did. Wise man. If I don't ask, my business doesn't go anywhere. My great idea is absolutely no use if it stays only in my head.

"If I don't ask, my business doesn't go anywhere. My great idea is absolutely no use if it stays only in my head."

Start-up Challenge | June Mineyama of Mamimu

I wrote about my failure to get into an online boutique, but success in getting information about a good printer who can manufacture cushions and tea towels. It happened only because I overcame the awkwardness and asked the owner politely if he knew anyone. The door I originally knocked didn't open but another door opened up for me. I got in touch with the printer and asked for some samples. I was impressed by the quality of the samples and I'm now ready to do business with them. My approach for asking is polite but with a clear call to action. They might think they have to give me a hundred answers tomorrow when I'm expecting two in a few weeks' time. Better not put them off by the mammoth task I didn't even ask for. I'm often touched by people's kindness and generosity when I ask. So it's definitely worth overcoming the awkwardness. Here is my another amazing experience I gained by asking.

Hot social media tips I gained by asking Lucy

Expertise is another awkward thing to ask but in the spirit of "Ask, Seek, Knock", I asked the guru for some social media tips. The guru is Lucy (below), a dressmaker and designer with a media background who blogs about unique fashion, fabrics, interiors and art (read her work at lucylovesya.com). She has more than 15,000 Twitter followers and more than 1,200 Facebook likes. Lucy and I have been Twitter mates for a while but I never met her in person. So it was still awkward to ask but I plucked up my and courage asked - politely, with a clear call to action - "Hi Lucy, I was wondering if I could pick your brains? Could you possibly share a couple of tips to get more followers and likes?"

"I plucked up my courage and asked - politely, with a clear call to action - "Hi Lucy, I was wondering if I could pick your brains?"

Social media tips | Lucy of Lucylovesya

The she came back to me straight away with some great tips. So incredibly kind! I nearly cried because of her generosity. So here are Lucy's tips: Lucy's tip 01: Giveaways

"Giveaways are definitely a good idea. You can always ask Twitter people who have lots of followers to retweet your giveaways, they don't mind normally."

On her blog and other social media, Lucy often gives away some cool products saying "Tweet for your chance to win X". If you have a product you want to promote, this is a great way to get exposure, too.

Lucy's tip 02: Run a blog

"It is hard work running a blog, I won't lie but if you enjoy it then it's worth it. A few other things you could do to get more readers or followers are collaborations, regular blog updates, blog banner swaps - do you do a sign up newsletter? I send one out every now and then to remind people I'm still here!"

Lucy's tip 03: Tweet about Facebook, promote Pinterest on Facebook

"Every now and then I send out Tweets saying "Follow me on Facebook, etc". People might not know that you have other social media pages."

Lucy's tip 04: Just keep going at it

"It doesn't matter that you don't have anything to sell. Just keep doing posts and see how you get on."

Thanks for reading this far and now may I ask you politely to follow at least one of my social media channels?

And finally...

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Our popular StartUp Saturday classes and StartUp Workshops have helped hundreds of budding entrepreneurs like June get their idea off the ground. Join the Enterprise Nation Club for just £20 and you'll get 25% off all our events, plus loads of other great offers and opportunities. Join the Club!

Photo credits: June Mineyama

 
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