05 Jul 2018
By Brian Williamson, Entrepreneur in Residence
My wife reminded me that this Friday (6 July 2018) is International Kissing Day. I don’t think I was imagining a glint in her eye. But, in my role as entrepreneur in residence with Kissing With Confidence, where Rainmakers are born, I spend a good deal of time thinking about kissing in the more pragmatic, business sense.
The old notion that you need to kiss a fair few frogs to find a prince is as true in finding investors and partners as it is in finding true love.
Whether it’s the dating game, with blind dates and something my daughters tell me is called Tinder, or the business world, with its conference circuits, connections, and networking – the same ratio of hit-and-miss is immediately apparent.
It’s far too easy to be seduced by the business equivalent of a pretty smile, and find yourself down a blind alley, chasing a prospect that was never all that real and thinking to yourself “What a waste of time that was…”
However, the one thing we must appreciate is that meeting the right people to take your business up to the next level is a form of gambling. Only instead of money, you’re gambling with probably the most precious resource you have in life, your time.
Dating and networking, most people muddle through without any formal training and a “throw enough at the wall, some of it must stick”, sense of optimism.
However, in the world of business, if not that of potentially romantic dating, it helps to listen to an expert or two. It brings to mind Jim, a professional gambler I met in the gym a few years ago. Over our sets of weights, he explained to me that he hadn’t had a proper job for almost 20 years.
Instead he put food on his table through gambling. Deep in my workout, I muttered something about it being “A mug’s game” without thinking. This was a bit rich, since, in reality, I had been gambling with my time and efforts at networking for decades, with similar, if not greater levels of success.
Jim told me about a horse in the Kelso races he fancied. It seemed quite a drive for a bit of a flutter to me, but I assumed he must know what he was doing. The next morning, I saw Jim as usual, and asked how his horse had got on. He didn’t even put down the weights to nonchalantly tell me “It won.” Oh, so maybe it’s not such a mug’s game after all, I thought.
I congratulated him and asked how much he’d made. His answer surprised me. Jim finished his set and said. “Nothing. Didn’t lay down a bet.” He explained, “the odds weren’t right, Brian. Gambling’s not just about who’s going to win, it’s about waiting for the odds to be right. Get that timing correct, and you can’t lose.”
He explained his thinking which, in turn, enabled me to see parallels with my experiences in business. In essence, it’s not just about picking the winner, it’s picking the winner when the odds are in your favour. To put it another way, it’s knowing that one extra fact that the rest of the punters and the bookies do not.
But I can hear you asking what does this have to do with business, or kissing even? It comes down to having the knowledge and expertise to interpret that glint in the eye on the dating scene, the form of a horse on the racecourse, or the signs in a business person that he or she is ready to commit.
The scattergun approach will probably pay dividends over time. If you don’t want to waste all that time, however, it pays to talk to the professionals who know how to recognise an opportunity and shape a proposition from an off-the-peg to a bespoke deal.
That’s Kissing With Confidence in a nutshell. We’re here to stack the odds in your favour, and make sure the time you gamble comes back many fold. After all, why play the odds when you can have a sure thing. Especially on International Kissing Day.
Brian Williamson is a qualified engineer and entrepreneur in his 34th year of running companies at board level. Brian’s fascination with making money started at the age of 9, and he has enjoyed a successful early management career which led to his first MD position at 26. He launched his first company in 1994, capturing large parts of the European market and growing to sales of £5m within the first three years.