The Example Of Emma

Emma is not the young lady’s real name, but the story is real.

Emma, a 27 year old who comes across as a 15 year old, messaged me to say she was going to start a business with her boyfriend. I asked what sort of business. Emma didn’t know. I asked why Emma wanted to start a business. She said because the Job Centre had sent her on a course.

Emma has had one job. She worked in a cafe, taking orders from the clients, and it was a month before the owner of the cafe let Emma take orders. Emma has a degree in performing arts. Emma cannot write a sentence. I know because I corrected two pages of Emma’s last essay for her degree and gave up. Emma is functionally illiterate. Emma has below average IQ. Emma is a nice girl who was let down by her parents, social services and the education system.

Yet Emma was convinced that she was going to go into business with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend was an economist she told me. Before I met him, I wondered why such a high hitter would be with someone like Emma. Then I met him and saw that he, too, had a qualification he did not deserve, and that the college had merely been after the funding it gets for butts on seats. Duncan was of average intelligence, socially insecure, poor and going nowhere in life.

Let’s learn from this shocking example of how the UK’s system lets people down, gives people ideas they cannot cope with and palms them off from one department to another without helping them.

To run a business, you have to have above average intelligence. If you are below that, you can still invest in a business, be a sleeping partner, and let the brains of the operation do the brains stuff. Even if you have brains but running a business is not for you, you can still invest in a friend’s business.

To run a business, you have to have had jobs. You need to know how businesses are run. You need to know what a normal working day looks like, you need to observe management, the boss, the big cheese, and you need to observe other workers. How do teams work? How does management interact with the team? How do people get paid? How do complaints get dealt with? How does the business function?

According to Dave Ramsey and others, it is normal these days for people to move jobs every two years. This means a worker learns new skills and can claim a higher wage. Robert Kyosaki talks about how business leaders are groomed. He says that as soon as they are out of college, future business leaders are put in one department of the business, then they are moved to another department, then they are moved to another department. The young whipper snappers have to know how each department works inside and out so that they possess the knowledge to run that business.

So, if you want to go into business, work in a business, then work in another and another. Start your business small while you learn from those who know more than you do.

To run a business, you have to have a product or service that people want to buy. Emma had nothing at all to offer. In the last year, I have met a woman who set up her mobile nails business, I have known several people who set up cleaning businesses during the covid shut downs that are now very successful and I have met personal trainers who are running their own boot camps in parks as well as working in gyms.

Identify your strengths and where you need to improve. What level of formal education do you have? What are you good at? What have you won medals in? What do you love doing? Are you good at doing it?

Are you qualified? Do you have recognised certificates? Do you have the skills and training? Can you learn from someone – a mentor or boss? Can you learn online? Do you have the knowledge and know how?

Emma was convinced she was going to be an actor. When you are turned down three times by Spotlight, you are not going to be an actor. I’m disabled. I was never going to be an Olympic athlete. I don’t keep to conventional beauty standards so I was never going to be a model. And that’s ok. We can have hobbies and keep them as hobbies while we earn money doing something else.

Now, what are you not good at? What do you absolutely suck at?! We all suck at something. For me, I was too formal when I advertised my lessons for children. I can get distracted by the shiny glass rectangle. I can over commit.

So I am looking at how other teachers advertise their lessons. I can put the shiny glass rectangle in another room. I can stop over commuting and keep tabs on when my lessons are most successful and just focus on holding lessons at those times.

Emma watched Fawlty Towers, which is great, I love that comedy. But. It is forty years old. The style of comedy and the topics of comedy have changed. Audiences have changed. Emma relied on what her Z list actor acting teacher taught her instead of looking to the leading names in the industry. She listened to small fry instead of the big fish. She listened to people whose careers went nowhere and they were basically clueless rather than listening to the industry leaders. As a result, she has gone through her chances.

As Robert Kiyosaki says with his “life pushes you around” meaning you get wake up calls often and they are a chance for you to take action. Emma’s first wake up call was when Spotlight turned her down for the first time. Emma could have used that opportunity to improve. She could have asked for feedback. She could have taken a course with a different teacher, she could have watched YouTubes on acting and acting standards. Instead, Emma carried on doing the same thing and hoped to not get the same results. Einstein had something to say about this.

I want to put time aside to learn from Katherine Birbalsingh. She runs one of the top four performing schools in the UK. She is a brown lady whose students are almost all Black and from poor backgrounds, but those students become some of the highest hitters in the UK. So, I want to learn from this lady. The left hates her for her teaching methods – really! Her methods get top results. I want to learn from Katharine Birbalsingh, not from the low achievers who criticise her for her students’ success. I’ve also found in brief chats with her that she is a nice person, too.

Let’s learn from the best, let’s raise our standards, let’s succeed! Good luck!

About catherinehume

Catherine Hume: Writer, social care worker and a liver of a life less ordinary.
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