How bird shit changed my business


This is a true story. And once you’ve read it you will believe it – because it’s so typical of life.

I was having a quiet week in my business. No – let’s be honest – I’d had a quiet couple of months. During the long stretches between client work at this time, I sat diligently at my computer and worked on my marketing. I had to justify my time if I wasn’t actually making money that day – so I’d do 8 hours ticking off routine marketing tasks.

Needless to say, I was completely uninspired, stressed, and feeling pretty low. I’m in my element when I’m working face-to-face with people, out and about, moving around and being creative with the camera or with writing, to help other people create amazing brands. I was not doing that by sitting at my desk all day sending out stale marketing to the world and feeling like no-one was listening. It was getting harder to justify my hours of hard work.

Furthermore, I could not understand how, doing the same things I had done the year before, I was finding 2014 so much tougher to achieve the same sales targets.

One day I decided to break with routine. I’d been promising myself for ages to spend more time roaming the city just taking photos for my own creative fun and development. I loved taking photos for other people but over the years building my photography business I’d done less and less just for me… it’s the same old story you hear all the time.

I don’t know how it happened, but I’d got myself into such a stressed state that leaving my office to float around aimlessly with my camera, even for a few hours, filled me with guilt. But somewhere inside me I knew this kind of work mattered, and since I hadn’t been having much success slaving away indoors, I forced myself to go out.

No sooner had I parked my car in expensive city parking, walked a block down the street and raised my camera to my face to take my first snap, than a bird from on high rained shit down – and I mean rained – all over my arm… and yes, all over my CAMERA.

It was so absurd I actually laughed. I’d stepped out of my comfort zone, trying to shake things up, and this is what I got as a reward?

Hoping no-one had seen, I grabbed a lone tissue from my bag and wiped down my precious camera and put it away. Somehow I’d had the good luck to have layers on that day, so I took off the top layer, now disgustingly dirty, scrunched it in a ball and used it to wipe down my arm. I then promptly put that article of clothing in the bin. Well, I was totally grossed out.

I’d been out 10 minutes and I already felt the need for a bit of a sit down. I went to the nearest café, making a beeline for the bathroom to check my hair hadn’t received the same treatment. Safe, thank god. I scrubbed my arm and hands and gave my camera another wipe down. Then I went and ordered coffee and had my sit down.

As I recovered, I wondered what in heavens to do next. I really didn’t feel like forcing the creative juices to flow at that point, but I refused to make this a wasted trip and feel entirely deflated. The thought of returning to my computer without new inspiration kept me where I was.

The world is always better after a cappuccino. I decided to drop the photo idea for today, and treat myself to a visit to the bookshop – a bit of walk as – sadly – there are so few bookshops left.

And here’s where I get to my point about bird shit changing my business.

I walked into the bookshop, walked straight to the business section (no surprise there – it’s my favourite), picked up the first book to catch my eye, flicked through it, realised immediately it was just what I needed, and bought it.

I then spent two days reading it from cover to cover and making plans that, in a few short months, would entirely change not only my branding but the nuts and bolts of my entire business. I cut out most of the services I was offering and much of the market I was pitching to, and zeroed in on what I love doing most and who I love serving most. I wrote five e-books on my area of passion and expertise and started selling them. I made plans to do more speaking on my area and found this was well-received. Though it was scary, I dropped almost everything else I was doing and promoting in my business.

Now, January 2015, just a few short months from the day I went out for a change and a bird shat on my camera (pardon the language but it really is the best way to say it), I am back to a booming business, and for the first time feel 100% that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

Some would say that bird shit is good luck. But I say that if that bird hadn’t got me that day, I’d have taken a few pics and gone straight back to what I was doing before, instead of finding a new direction in a book I’d never heard of before, in a bookshop I never intended to visit.

I know you want to know what book it was, but I’ve decided to leave it out… because it will be a different thing for you – a different book, seminar, conversation… a different version of bird shit – that will suddenly turn things around.

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