Four Business Lessons from Boris

Posted on Jul 4th, 2016 | Running a business

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of hearing about the EU referendum. Not tired as in ‘Can’t we go back to talking about Beyoncé and Gogglebox’, but mentally, physically and spiritually drained. But alas, Britain woke up on the morning of the 24th having voted out of the EU, and before the Sun had the opportunity to tell us it was them ‘wot won it’, David Cameron had resigned as our Prime Minister, and Boris Johnson – the face of the Vote Leave campaign – became the bookie’s favourite to succeed him. For all of a week, anyway.

Boris Johnson – ‘Man of the People’

Although (like all public figures) he has his critics, Boris Johnson has repeatedly been voted the country’s most popular politician. Say what you will about his questionable hair and even more questionable outbursts – Boris is objectively a PR legend. His self-deprecating appearances on shows like Have I Got News For You and Soccer Aid have endeared him to millions who don’t necessarily agree with his views.

But what is it that makes him such a beloved household name, and how can you utilise these distinctive traits to positively affect your small business? Well I’m glad you asked, because I was going to write an article about this very subject. What a coincidence!

1. Do things on your terms

Being able to communicate well is a vital part of building a name for yourself. We’ve all heard politicians avoid questions in order to get their own soundbites into a broadcasted interview, but few can pull this off with the gusto of the former Mayor of London.

Got an angry customer, or a difficult query? No problem. Just mutter and splutter away like the Major from Fawlty Towers before simply changing the subject – and Hey Presto! The bothersome person will eventually have to back down due to lack of time.

2. Curate your own demand

Remember that brilliant computer game from the 90’s ‘Theme Park’, where you built your own version of Disneyland or Alton Towers from the ground up? One of the first entrepreneurial steps I remember taking was selling super-salty chips, and then placing a drinks stand nearby; my thirsty park goers couldn’t get enough of it.

If the public doesn’t quite have an appetite yet for what you’re selling, you could always create a need for it – like our Boris did when he pointed out that the EU placed restrictions on the sale of bananas and claimed there was an EU-sanctioned ban on children blowing up balloons.

It’s probably better to use legitimate facts and proper research, but if making things up worked for Boris Johnson, who knows? Perhaps it could work for you too.

3. Don’t make promises you can’t keep

Sometimes as a freelancer, contractor or small business owner, you may find it difficult to follow through on your claims. Boris Johnson successfully gets around this by using terms just vague enough to be non-committal – for example in this case ‘Let’s’ provides much more wiggle-room than ‘We will’.

If your inability to deliver what you’ve told your customer you were going to do causes some discontent, why not try deleting the offending points from your website? If a pesky pedant asks where they went, just tell them they were merely aspirational and not legally binding. Problem solved!

4. Know when to abandon ship

Making controversial comments about President Obama is not all Mr Johnson has in common with his stateside doppleganger Donald Trump. The billionaire Republican candidate has historically pulled the plug on a string of struggling businesses when he saw they were going nowhere fast – a shrewdness which Boris Johnson displayed by dropping out of the race to be our next Prime Minister.

As it had become clear that it would be his responsibility to implement a tidy and painless Brexit strategy, the head honcho of the Leave campaign sensibly surmised that a failure to do so would almost certainly damage his career irreparably, and stood down accordingly.

“I cannot, unfortunately, get on with what I wanted to do,” he told reporters, “so it’ll be up to somebody else now”.

Boris told the country repeatedly that leaving the EU would be good for small businesses – and that claim is still widely up for debate, with prominent voices making good arguments on both sides. But regardless whether you’re joyful or disappointed by the result, at least freelancers, contractors, and small business owners have these handy tips from Boris Johnson to help them thrive.

Do you have any to add? Leave us a comment below.

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