Change Means Business 2023 toolkit: how to adapt, thrive & grow your business

We’ve teamed up with the brilliant Today at Apple team to create Change Means Business – an event series to help freelancers, aspiring founders and business owners thrive in challenging times.

In this toolkit, we’ve put together the top tips and resources from the inspiring business leaders that joined the series. The toolkit is perfect for anyone at any stage of their business growth; from side hustle to scaling, freelancing, or even if you’re just starting out and not sure where to start!

For more advice as well as a network of contacts and events to support your entrepreneurial journey, we’d love you to join the Change Means Business community channel on The Dots. Let’s keep the conversation going!

1. It's not ‘us and them’. Instead, work together to achieve your mutual goal
The words you use are really important, and can significantly help with changing mindsets. Here are some examples:
– Try ‘partners’ instead of ‘clients’
– Try ‘members’ instead of ‘users’
– Try ‘community’ instead of ‘customers’

2. Building a community and network is critical to your success
The community that you build right from the beginning is so important to help connect the dots with clients/customers you want to connect with.
– Be creative! Who do you know, who knows someone you want to know?
– It's a long game: relationships and building trust take time
– Be a giver: help others where you can, as you never know where they'll go

3. Get to 'Product Market Fit' before investing in marketing
You can sometimes waste a huge amount of money (I know I did!) marketing your product before you are ready, and before you know exactly what your product/business model is. Consider doing a Product Market Fit survey – here’s one I highly recommend

4. Feedback is a gift – and it builds trust
Building a business with the people you service (your partners and community) is absolutely fundamental to building your business. Ask them for feedback, and ask them specific questions like ‘If there was one thing I could change…’

5. Learn how to negotiate
This can be tough, and I really struggled in the beginning. I'd highly recommend these 2 books; Getting to Yes and Never Split the Difference

Discover more about The Dots
Pip Jamieson’s top resources:

Steven Bartlett - The Diary of a CEO
Girl Boss Radio
Jimmy Jobs of the Future

The Dots
Soho Works

Never Split the Difference. Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss, Tahl Raz
F*ck Being Humble: Why self-promotion isn’t a dirty word by Stefanie Sword-Williams
The Business of Freedom: How to escape employment and build a business that works for you by Lisa Zevi
1. Someone will always believe in your wild ideas
…as long as you have a strong purpose and message.

2. Try and meet with your client before you pitch to them
I always try to meet up and chat with clients before I pitch a fully fleshed-out idea. I believe your time is equally – if not more – valuable than your money. Save as much of your time as possible and first find out: if they are interested, if you are aligned, and if they have a budget.

3. Don’t Gatekeep
Share opportunities and contacts with those from marginalised and low-income backgrounds. Actively start to push these people into the creative industries; share their work, recommend them, promote them, hire them.

4. Bring your ideas to introductions
Don’t just introduce yourself and say ‘I’d love to work with you’. Make it easy by bringing ideas to the table. It makes it much easier to explain why you deserve a seat.

5. You’ll never know if someone will work with you unless you ask
Learn not to be afraid of reaching out to someone you don’t know – it’s pointless to assume how they’ll reply. This gives your self-doubt the chance and opportunity to try and stop you from doing it in the first place.
Discover more about BRICKS
Tori West’s top resources:

Adulting Podcast
Creative Rebels
BRICKS 'I Did That'


The Joy of Being Selfish: Why You Need Boundaries and How to Set Them by Michelle Elman
Little Black Book by Otegha Uwagba
Unprepared to Entrepreneur: A Method to the Madness of Starting Your Own Business by Sonya Barlow
1. Always be in a state of curiosity, learning and growth
Be curious about the people you are building your company for and with; your clients, partners, users and community.

2. Celebrate and appreciate the small wins
These mini-success stories help build a culture around progress. Life is never about big wins - it’s always the small incremental moves that got us to a place where something big felt natural.

3. Create more value than you capture
This applies to your clients, community members and your team members. It’s easier said than done, as it requires a lot of trade-offs that you need to be diligent about, but it’s something my team and I constantly remind ourselves of.

4. Build community first. Clients will come
People want to be near amazing people. Community building is the most important element, especially when building a network-based business.

5. Adapt a long-term thinking mindset
This is important both personally and professionally around your teams, clients and community members. It changes the language and the conversation – it’s very important and very much needed.

Discover more about Neol
Kerem Alper’s top resources:

Making Sense with Sam Harris
Hubermann Lab
How I Built This with Guy Raz

Waking Up: Beyond Meditation

Atomic Habits by James Clear
The Cold Start Problem by Andrew Chen
Tao - the Way by Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, and Lieh Tzu
Promoting yourself with pride (and not feeling embarrassed to do it!)
Ever struggled to promote yourself or your business? Do you get embarrassed or nervous to talk about yourself in meetings or on social media? You’re not alone. Many of us have never been taught about self-promotion – or how to do it – so it’s no wonder it can be tricky to navigate. Learning to embrace it though can have a huge impact on yourself, your career and your ambitions.

Three tips to make self-promotion a whole lot easier:

1. Be genuine
If you can capture this in your personal branding and the way you speak to others, you’re more likely to build an authentic connection. Don’t worry about showing up as your perfect self – people want to see your personality, your journey and your growth.
2. Be gracious
Acknowledge and reference the people that have been part of your journey, and have helped you get to where you currently are.
3. Be a giver
Think about how you can either inspire your audience or offer them advice and suggestions that they can benefit from. If you’re worried that you're posting content that seems self-indulgent, think about how it can benefit others – and incorporate that into your message.

When you’re next posting something about yourself or your business, think of a way that you can also add value to others at the same time. This will help elevate your self-promotion and support other people. Win-win!

If you’re announcing that you’ve recently landed a new client, what advice or tips would you give to someone trying to attract a new client?

Discover more about F*ck Being Humble
Stefanie Sword-Williams’ top resources:

The Diary of a CEO with Steven BartlettHidden Brain
How I Built This with Guy Raz

The Dots
Tik Tok

Contagious by Jonah Berger
Hype yourself by Lucy Werner
Creative Confidence by David M. Kelley and Tom Kelley
1. Refine your value proposition and pitch like a pro
So, what exactly is a value proposition? Put simply, it’s how your idea creates value for customers and investors.

Your value proposition needs to be clear, tangible and memorable – can someone understand it in 5 seconds?

Some common mistakes people make:
– Rushing into execution: Don’t get too caught up with marketing, the team or the execution of your business/idea before thinking about the basics.
– Losing sight of your audience: Ask yourself; What are they after? Why would they want your product? What’s going to get them excited and consider you over anyone else?
– Delaying the tough questions: Don’t gloss over these! Start thinking about the worst-case situation immediately, so you can address the tough questions early on.

Think about your business, idea or pitch. Now write down your value proposition, based on the tips from above.

Stephen’s example for Woo:
‘Media brand and e-commerce redefining wellness through youth culture. Turning Gen Anxious to Gen Zen’

2. How to stand out from the competition and win over clients, customers, investors and the media

Some tips to stand out:
– Be subversive: What can you say and do that makes you stand out as a disruptor and leader?
– Invest in design: Good design makes your product feel tangible and helps an investor or client connect with your proposition emotionally.
– The ridiculous stat: Back up everything you say with stats and insight to support your talking points (and have them memorised!).

What’s something subversive about your idea, industry or pitch? Write down a stat or anecdote to back it up.

Example from Woo:
– Subversive fact: Long-form video is a great way to build brand equity with Gen Z.
– Reason why it’s true: Gen Z stream tv shows 3+ hours a day, building a culture of binge-watching long-form.

3. Asses the risk and prepare for the worst. Position your business for success

This is where you prepare for the worst and come up with answers to the questions you don’t want to think about!

Some things to think about:
– What are all the uncomfortable questions that the people you’re pitching to might ask?
– What makes your business not work?
– What claims have you made that can’t be validated and haven’t been done?

4. Calm your nerves

Calming your nerves and confidence is half the battle – they’re subconscious triggers that make people comfortable and that you know what you’re talking about.

– Over-prepare: Write down all the tough questions that you think you’ll be asked. Then, write down the answers and memorise them.
– Don’t underestimate wellness practices: Meditate to clear your mind or try sound healing and frequencies – they’ll help calm your nerves.
– Practice practice practice: Record yourself practising your pitch and listen to it – this will help you feel confident. It’s true what they say, practice makes perfect.

Discover more about Woo
Stephen Mai’s top resources:

Cash Cuties
Pod Save America

The Dots
Mindset by Dive Studios

Unf*uk Yourself by Gary John Bishop
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
More than Enough by Elaine Welteroth
1. Create something that makes a difference to someone
Big or small - it doesn't matter, as long as you are making an impact. Help your clients and customers feel seen, validated and valued. In these changing times, customers are increasingly purpose and value-driven, and aligning yourself to this will resonate with them and help push the world forward. Win-win.

2. You need a strong support system
Starting a business is hard. Surround yourself with people who believe in what you are doing, even when you doubt yourself. The emotional support you get from these people will carry you in tough times and can be more beneficial than financial support.

3. Don’t be paralysed by the prospect of running out of money
It happens - and more often than people realise. In fact, most startups that don’t succeed, do so because of a lack of money. The key here is to accept that you might run out of money, and have a plan to mitigate or minimise the impact.

4. Be resourceful and creative
As a startup, it’s often second nature to be resourceful. With limited resources, finances and personnel, the trick is to find ways to bridge that deficit and find alternative ways to accomplish tasks without hiring or spending too much time and money.

5. Perseverance triumphs in the end
The startup journey is full of ups and downs - even on the same day. It’s normal to feel that at times you’re not moving forward. When you zoom out and have a wider view of where you started, where you are and where you’re going, you’ll realise you’re on the right path to success.

Discover more about REFRAMD
Ackeem Ngwenya’s top resources:

Masters of Scale
Pivot to the Future with and Omar Abbosh
Your Undivided Attention


The Last Question by Isaac Asimov
Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
– Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World by Timothy Garton Ash
1. Set yourself clear, concrete and progressive goals
As a first step, make sure your goals include actionable tasks. A crowdfunding campaign is great for this, as it provides specific benchmarks, tasks and momentum – it’s also a great way to celebrate milestones.

2. Have a limited number of irons in the fire
During challenging times, you need to focus and rethink your roadmap. For example, if you were thinking of launching 3 products or services, perhaps think about starting with one. This is especially true for high-risk / high-reward products and projects.

3. Your first clients may be your best funding partners
Pre-selling your products is a great way to test your product and market, and get money at the same time. Most importantly, it’s a great way to start marketing and talking about your product.

4. Be straightforward with your clients & partners
Everybody knows we are living in changing times and must adapt. Sincerity is your best ally. Show your clients, partners and community that you are under control by being honest and letting them know when there might be delays or changes to your roadmap.

5. Discover new routes every day
When you’re facing challenges, try to change your perception of change. Explore new routes - both on a professional and personal level. You’ll learn a lot, and by staying open to the unexpected, you’ll often find ways to innovate. Change often makes you a better person and can help you grow your business.

Discover more about Ulule
Alexandre Boucherot’s top resources:

Génération Do It Yourself
10 minutes pour csauver le monde
Le Panier

Reeder 5
1. There is always time for what matters
You have more time, strength and capability than you think.

2. It only takes one person to believe in you
All you need is that one person in the beginning. Then, you’re off to the races.

3. It’s normal to not know everything you need to know right away
Most successful business owners are no smarter or more competent than you – they were just daring enough to start and figure it out along the way. Put one foot forward and you’ll figure it out, too.

4. It does actually get better
Weather through the tough times. Clients can leave, things can go wrong, but even through the hardest part of the journey, it always gets better.

5. Celebrate your small wins
Don’t just wait for the big wins. The most important thing is momentum, and celebrating each win along the way because they make up a much bigger story.

Discover more about Fanbytes
Timothy Armoo’s top resources:

Business Breakdowns


The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes
Dot Com Secrets by Russell Brunson


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