Riding around Wilford this morning (alone, as part of a governmentally approved exercise regime and adhering to all the new norms of current social behaviour i.e. look away now, step right out of the way and hold your breath for at least five minutes after you’ve inadvertently crossed someone’s path), I was struck about how some residential areas are named. Off a small central service road, there was a Hannah Crescent, a Kelly Walk and an Aaron Close all jostling up in neighbourly comfort. I wondered whether in the history of the planning of Wilford, a town planner had decided to name these roads in honour of the members of his family? Or his cats? Or long lost loves?
I pondered this with my remote Boss Bike Rider pal, Liam, a business advisor who has recently signed up to the Boss Bike Rider campaign and was attempting to ride across the urban landscape of Chiswick Roundabout in London.
He reminded me sombrely that one of the first most important things to do when you’re setting up a new business is to make sure the name indicates what you intend to produce, service or experience.
He told me about a few business start-ups who had a few salutary lessons about the naming of their businesses. Albert, who wanted to set up a horror mountain themed entertainment business called Alpine Doom Accelerator; Betty who wanted to establish the Nottingham Vodka Company and Carol, who was intent on establishing Blue Sky Human Resource Consultancy. All excellent ventures with aspirational titles Liam remarked which strongly suggested the presence of a particular experience in engaging with that business.
However, Liam found out to his cost that there wasn’t an edelweiss anywhere to be seen when punters stepped off the bus in the afternoon of entertainment that Albert had prepared for them; more a case of nettles, brambles and unending ferns which got in their hair and made the afternoon an increasingly miserable experience; likewise, Liam was to find that Nottingham Vodka was not only not made in Nottingham but that it also contained no vodka; and yes, you’ve guessed it, Blue Sky Marketing soon became mired in the murky business operational realities of behaviour control.
“Quite why businesses do this is anyone’s guess,” mused Liam as I pushed back my back to the city as a result of acquiring a flat back tyre somewhere between the Embankment and Wilford. “Perhaps it’s aspirational, perhaps it’s wishful thinking, perhaps it’s just presentational fluff.”
“The word ‘community’ is also frequently used in this rhetorical manner,” I added, “with community policing, nursing and indeed community arts used to suggest the presence of something when all too often the reality is the absence of aforesaid thing.”
The problem is that this inability to name the business according to its presence, rather than an absence gives the business a bad name from the word go. Promising one thing when the reality is the diametrical opposite, hardly engenders confidence in the customer that they’re getting a “does what it says on the tin” experience.
That advert for fence varnish might have been unnecessarily loud and crude – but it had the benefit of being straightforward and promising and both delivering the promise, as well as just promising a promise.
Liam promised to join up again on another Boss Bike Ride at some point in the future and share more of his insights on being the boss of a business start up. In the meantime, I continued the search for a bicycle repair kit in the depths of my rucksack but to no avail.
This Boss Bike Ride was soon to become a Boss Schlepp Back To Town. “Another salutary reminder,” added Liam before he hung up and continued to confront the joys of Chiswick Roundabout.
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