Are you available?

Firstly, let’s learn that the very word ‘available’ used to mean beneficial. As time passes by, definitions erode from their original formation and wear new uniforms; available now simply means to be accessible. The reason I bring up the etymology of the word, besides my fervent infatuation with all things nerdy and historical, is because I feel we have forgotten the value of just being available and in business this is a costly, loss of memory.

Recently, I watched a short news clip about an obscure man in an even obscurer part of Scotland who happens to be the voice behind many famous TV commercials and shows both here in the UK and overseas. His decibels and timbre have been delivered and transported to over 300 million pairs of ear drums. He has an in-built studio nestled in his cottage in the isles among pastures green where stars are solely seen in the sky or on Sky. How has he become the go-to guy for blockbusters and chat shows? He says the secret to his success is merely being available more than the next person.

As well as television work, he has appeared in a trailer for the Star Wars franchise, and also played a villain in a video game.
He added: “The trick is to just be available.”
(From https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-46100326 )

If you visit a place of business only to find there’s nobody around to serve you or they don’t have what you wanted, you’re going to head to their nearest rival. You wouldn’t wait a day for the sake of loyalty to the brand — time matters, and people want things on demand so the virtue of simply being available is an increasingly invaluable one. Through the natural order of business, as companies grow they become busier and their time is more precious which leaves open a whole batch of potential clients who they would have once attended to. This grants great opportunities to new start-ups in the same field who have time in abundance and can therefore make themselves available to gobble up the leftovers and small-fry of the giants with whom they share the dinner table.

To inspect more intrinsically, within the competition between new businesses success will often come down to being present in the right places at the right times. A competitive advantage can be accumulated if you are always poised and available to serve — but your potential customers need to know it. A great portion of this strategy contains patience and wisdom which needs to be demonstrated online and when you meet with companies who you’d like to have on your books. They might not sign on your dotted line there and then but let them know in no uncertain terms that when the need for your services arrives, they should get in touch with you as you will always be available and ready with first class execution.

It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.
Whitney M. Young, Jr

Starting up a business is often described and analysed with great complexity, drowned in strategy and measured in microscopic detail — as it should be. However, there are some basic principles which should be adhered to but are easily forgotten. Just being available and demonstrating your constant availability is one of these principles. Can you recount how many times you have purchased something because it was convenient to acquire? We sacrifice shopping around and diligence for the sake of time and ease all the time. Your clients will sometimes do the same, and if you have already built a rapport and a warm reputation on their radar (through non-pushy, occasional e-mails and blogging to prove your know-how and posting on social media to signal your availability) then you become a no-brainer because they trust you, they know of you and they are aware that you are available.

Some months ago I was asked to be a body-double in a TV commercial and it was my first time being in such an environment. There were more extras than film crew, and I learned about the lives and professions of these people. Being a successful extra is predicated entirely on being available, not just beforehand to actually get the part but during shoots too you are required to hang around for ghastly periods of time before you are rewarded with the millisecond of movie action you came to be paid for. I would estimate around 10% of the selection process is down to compatibility and criteria of the cast, and the rest is really just a case of ‘are you available and can you stay available for us when we need you?’.

To circle back to my initial point about the definition of the word ‘available’, it can be helpful to remember that the word implies beneficial as well as just being there. If you are in business in the first place, then you obviously have and know of the benefits and value you can provide. By adding the all-important “I’m available!” factor and pushing that under the noses of all your potential clients, you will start to generate more business than ever before. It’s about being helpful, convenient and always poised to deliver when the opportunity arises rather like a butler or perhaps, a very astute, erudite entrepreneur.

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