Everyone is in sales. Yes, everyone, including you.
Now it may sound a little daft to say since very few of us think we actually sell anything. But I'd like to show you just how wrong we all are on this score. And wrong just about every single day.
You see, from the moment you're born you're trying to sell something. And that something is you. You smile to get a positive response, a response that is repeated and affirmed throughout our whole lives. If you smile at folks as an adult, most of the time you will still get a smile in return.
When you get a little older you start to realise the value in asking for things and then demanding things and then kicking up a fuss when you don't get what you want. How many times do kids ask for ice cream before they either get want they want or realise that it's not going to happen? Quite a lot, right.
So we move on in life and by the time we get to our teen years you've (hopefully) stopped throwing yourself on the floor screaming when you're not getting what you want. But then you go into a different kind of selling: selling yourself to the opposite sex.
And this is when sales skill starts to develop. You preen yourself to look and smell good, you try and be on your best behaviour, you aim to say the right words. All in the hope that when you finally ask he/she will say yes to going out with you.
But what happens when all this effort comes to naught? What if she said no? Do you go home and sulk, cry, vow never to ask again? Or do you try a dating site in the hope that you won't have to ask anyone face-to-face?
Or do you realise that the word 'no' doesn't really hurt that much at all and try again with the same or a different person?
Eventually you get to job interviews. Again you're having to sell yourself to someone who might hire you. You go through a similar kind of process as you went through asking for a date: preen, polish, best behaviour, the right words etc. In the hope that the interviewer will see you as the person they need and offer you the job.
But what if you're turned down? Do you go home and pull the emotional Huggies over your head, vow never to apply for another job? Go to a different job site hoping that you'll never have to confront an interview again?
Or do you realise that being turned down here and there isn't a life-threatening condition and you try again with a different approach?
You might even have made some friends along the way. Did they just turn up and instantly become your friend or did you go through a kind of 'getting to know you phase'? The part where you're doing your best not to be the jerk/bitch you know you can be. This bit is the selling bit, you're still trying to win friends and some approval by presenting the best you.
Perhaps you managed to get a job. I'll bet you're still selling your worth to someone and this someone is now a boss. You may be trying win promotion, get that bonus, win employee of the year. You're still selling.
So life moves on, maybe you got lucky and have a (dare I say it) wife or husband (or partner or whatever the fashionable term is). You would still have gone through a selling process to try and impress etc.
And now you may even have kids. And I promise that they'll be selling to you in the same way that you did to your parents.
So, now that you realise that everyone is in sales, my question to you is:
What's your kids' closing ratio on you?
Many folks have heard about having a positive attitude but is that all there is to being successful? The old addage 'Believe it and achieve it' seems to have been kicked around a little too much in my view. And if it were strictly true then many more people would achieve success in their chosen endeavour.
But having said that, having a fair bit of simple belief and motivation can carry you a long way. Your reasons for what you're up to mean a heck of a lot, especially when you're self-employed or running a small business.
And in few other areas is your belief and motivation tested more than when you run a business.
When you run a business you have to absolutely believe that what you are doing is going to work, And that you will be able to make a success of your activities.
But have a think about this:
If you've ever been in any kind of sales role you will understand that believing in the product that you are selling is vital. You also have to have confidence and belief in your ability to make sales. Without any of these key components you will not likely succeed, in all honesty selling is very much about belief and confidence (more than skill much of the time).
But there is a huge difference between working in sales role and running your own business. That difference is that when you work for someone else you normally have a boss who will help you and support you and usually guide you in the right direction. When you run a business you simply don't have that, you are the boss, you have to find your own motivation, belief and encouragement.
And that's where many people who start their own business fall down. When things get tough, and they undoubtedly will, unless you have strong motivation and absolute belief in your enterprise you will almost certainly start to flounder (and in all probability).
So, what can you do to try and ensure that you believe in what you're doing and have faith in your business and/or abilities?
One of the most important things to realise very early on is the reason or reasons why you're doing this in the first place. This is fundamentally your motive, from which motivation comes. Without this motivation you are at a disadvantage to begin with.
Now your motive doesn't have to be anything high and mighty. It could be as simple as “I don't want to work for anyone else”. But whatever reason you have for doing what you do it needs to be very clear in your mind. Because in the tough times this should spur you on to take action despite how you feel at the time.
Personally I have a number of reasons for having a business, one of them is that I really don't want to work for anyone else. Another is that I love having the freedom to steer my own career rather than having to rely on someone else's pay or promotion structure. I like being the captain of my own ship, so to speak. And last summer I was able to just have a few hours off to watch our oldest daughter compete in her school sports day. I was only one of three parents there but it was great not having to ask for permission.
But do I struggle? Are there times when my motivation and belief aren't so great? Do I sometimes think that maybe I should just get a job? The simple answer is yes, like everyone else I have times of doubt. I don't want to scare you off if you want to start a business but it really is like an emotional rollercoaster at times.
But when I get a big hug my three-year-old daughter or a welcome-home kiss from my partner I'm reminded that there are very good reasons/motives for putting up with the stress that having a business can sometimes bring. And these reminders give me the motivation to work hard, to focus and to have belief that what I'm doing is worthwhile.
And the key element here is knowing what it is that drives you. Without this there will be little motivation and you will struggle to truly believe in what you're doing. And those reasons need to be your reasons, you won't find much motivation and faith in someone else's.
So, if you want to “believe it and achieve it” it you need to start with the reasons why you would want to achieve in the first place.
For a little more on belief and achievement read my piece called "you have to make change happen, not just hope for it"
One of the biggest challenges that many of us in business have is the sheer number of potentially good business ideas or potentially profit-making concepts that we tend to generate.
Now I say that's a problem because very few of us have the resources available to have someone else do some digging to work out if the idea is feasible. Just because you might think it's going to be the next sun-dried tomato concept doesn't instantly mean that the market is going to open its wallet and let you in.
So let me explain some of my thoughts on how to recognise a potentially good business ideas and maybe it'll help you.
At the time of writing I'm working on couple of ideas that are likely to lead to profit. One of them I can do on my own and the other I will need help with. And these are just 2 of many business ideas I've had lately.
But how have I decided that these two ideas are worth pursuing?
Well I have a little process for checking out whether business ideas might be right for me and also the market. And it starts with just 2 simple questions:
- Does the idea keep me awake with excitement?
- Have I checked with trusted business buddies about whether there is potential in the market for the idea?
So let's have a think about the first question: Does the idea excite me?
Most of the ideas I generate are just that; ideas. They are thoughts for where I might take the business to add profit streams or completely new business concepts that have little to do with what I'm involved with at the minute.
I often write down the ideas to see if they weigh on my mind at all. And if they do then I'll do a little digging about whether it's something I could legitimately fit into what's going on now and within the near future.
But the one thing that goes through my mind at this stage is whether I'm excited about the idea at all. Do I find myself sharing the concept with people? Have I mentally begun to write the business and marketing plan? Does the idea give me a buzz? Does it keep me awake at night?
If I can't see any of these things happening around an idea then I often dismiss it. And this is because I know from experience that any business idea will need lots of work to make it a success. I'll need to put time, effort and money into it and if I can't see myself continuing to be excited about it when things get tough (and they normally do at some point) then I'll likely lose enthusiasm and this increases the chances of me giving up.
That's not to say that the idea as a bad idea. I just have to recognise that it's not necessarily right for me.
The next question is about the market: is there potential in the market?
This is a little more tricky in many ways because sometimes you could be bringing an unknown product or service into the market and will have to create demand for it.
Thankfully most of my business ideas relate to existing markets and could be considered a favourable variation on an existing theme.
These days I tend to look for ideas where the potential market could be huge if tapped in the right way. Not easy, since many people want big markets, but it certainly cuts out trying to get attention in crowded niches.
When I've worked out the idea a little I'll then share the thought with a few trusted business colleagues to get their responses. I belong to a business group that I trust to give me honest feedback (both bad and good) that I can take away and consider.
If the feedback is mostly positive then I can move forward with more detailed feasibility study about the market and how to take the idea into market. Again, I often ask the same group of people.
So, that tells you a little more about how to recognise potentially good business ideas and if you've any further thoughts then please share them in the comments box below.
Woody Allen is quoted as saying that “80% of success is just showing up” and whilst that may seem like a bit of a glib statement there's more truth to it than many people realise.
You see, many people today say they will 'just show up' but it's often just a throwaway comment with little or no commitment to honouring their word.
But let me share a story with you that kind of illustrates the point:
A few weeks ago I was at a Chamber of Commerce event and I met a guy who had recently started a graphic and brand design business. He confessed to having struggled to find clients since starting up.
However when I suggested he go out and do some business networking he started to mutter that he couldn't possibly commit to turning out to events because a client might call him and need him to work.
In my view this attitude was just plain nuts. He needs to find work, he needs to meet new potential clients but just wouldn't commit to making an appearance at an event that might benefit him and his business. I couldn't believe what I was hearing and I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if his business simply didn't survive.
But with that in mind; what if he had told a potential new client that he was going to meet them and an existing client called to request some work? Would he rearrange the appointment with the potential new client or would he suggest to the existing client that he was unavailable for a short time?
In all honesty, what kind of businessman would not even entertain the idea of going to a sales and marketing event?
The main reason why I tell this story is because his attitude to developing his business and showing up to networking events was hardly confidence inspiring. I would be reluctant to hire him due to the fact that he just simply wouldn't even contemplate making a commitment to an event just in case something else happened.
But this isn't the only example that I've experienced. A few weeks ago I ran and networking event of my own and we had 16 people who had e-mailed us to say that they were coming along. As it turned out not everyone who had said they would come actually did so. Again, not a great way of inspiring confidence in you and what it is you represent. And this is not a unique situation. I know many people who run business events who are often disappointed by people who will say that they're coming and then just don't show up without any kind of explanation or notice.
Now, I'm not saying that I always get this right (I reluctantly confess that I'm human too). But I continue to work hard on making sure that when I commit to showing up I show up.
So, the whole point of this article is just to reiterate something I've said many times in the past: “if you say you'll be there, be there”. Just show up, no excuses, no BS, just show up.
In fact, your future success, as someone who does what he says he will do, could depend on how well you do this. The best reputation you could possibly nurture in your marketplace is as one of the few people who does what they say they will do.
If you'd like to share some of your experiences on this matter then please feel free to write them in the comments below:
In our very busy world it can be very challenging to find thinking time.
However, it can improve your productivity and chances of success by giving you the space to consider work and life etc and then maybe make some decisions.
So here are some of my thoughts on how thinking time can help:
In my view, time spent thinking should be an essential part of everyone's diary. Even if it's just a few hours a month.