Article #9, April 21, 2003
Having My Own Business – It’s the Best and Hardest Job I’ve Ever Had!
I was always meant to be my own boss. In fact, I’ve been fired from more jobs than most people have in a lifetime (in my impetuous youth). In college I wondered why there were no classes to learn about small business, and so I learned about big business. In many, many ways my formal and informal education prepared me for my current foray into entrepreneurship.
I believe with all my heart and mind that every person has innate gifts as well as talents and skills – and let’s not forget life and work experience. These wonderful gifts can serve you well in your own business, but they are not enough to make it successful. You need business skills and guts, and you need to be willing to work. Oh yea – and you need money. Make sure you have adequate reserves to carry you until your business takes off. You may need as much as two years worth of income!
In most businesses, you will need to know something about all aspects of business. Below are some of the areas in which at least a little knowledge will serve you well:
1. Technology The business world expects you to use your computer and use it well. The more you know, the faster your business will move. Here are some tips:
a. Use the BCC (blind carbon copy) function when sending mass emails, like for newsletters or announcements.
b. Find and use software made for your business and/or to keep track of sales prospects. If you are short on money, buy it at auction. Try ebay.com.
c. Get a website, and use a professional unless you’re savvy. A 1-page site can be very inexpensive. Go to godaddy.com for inexpensive domain name purchasing.
2. Sales It is impossible to make money unless you actually sell your product or service.
a. Know and have a written list of the benefits of your product/service – what’s in it for the customer/client? This is an absolute must!!
b. Know where your customers/clients are, and meet them there. Whether this is at your local chamber, in their homes or businesses, on the internet or at the mall – you go to them.
c. When you are cold calling, make sure to have a WRITTEN script of what you will say. On the phone live, in person, leaving a phone message and in email – figure out what you will say in advance and write it down.
[If you could use some help with sales, let me know. I’ve been very successful in sales and have had substantial training! Contact me for a free coaching session to see how I can help you in your endeavors! email@example.com or 818-508-1678]
3. Marketing & Advertising This is the hardest part for me. While I know a little about marketing in general, marketing a service that many people have never heard of is daunting and extraordinary.
a. Read as much free stuff as you can on the internet, and read books that pertain to marketing your business.
b. Don’t get caught up in the trap of studying all the time! There are many, many people trying to sell their ebooks on regular and internet marketing. Think about it before you buy, and listen to the little voice inside you (your inner wisdom).
c. Know what you don’t know. For example, I didn’t realize at first I really don’t know how to write ad copy.
d. Do as much as you can yourself, but hire contractors when you need to. Try finding a contractor from a trusted colleague’s referral.
4. Customer Service Customer service, in my opinion, is the most important component of a successful, long-term business. Exceptional customer service will get you repeat business and referrals.
a. Learn everything you can about your product/service.
b. If at all possible, offer a guarantee.
c. Send thank-you notes for purchases and send gifts for referrals that make you money.
d. Give some of your brilliance away to make your customers/clients happy.
e. Call back when you say you will, and follow up to make sure they’re happy.
f. Be nice to everyone – you never know how a chance encounter may benefit you in the future!
In addition to the preceding subjects, you will also be called upon to do your own purchasing, banking, finance, accounting and other administrative duties. Hiring a virtual assistant and/or bookkeeper can be very helpful. Also, make sure you have an adequate phone and message system. One of my pet peeves is call waiting. It isn’t good business to put a potential client on hold or to make them listen to the click click of an incoming call!
A tip for parents: If you want to make real money, you cannot run a business out of your home while taking care of your children. Get childcare.
I have learned a great deal in the last year-plus. I learned that I should be coaching, and that my instincts are usually right on. I learned that I should pay attention to what works for other coaches, and that I should do what works for me, regardless of what others do. I learned that I need to rely on myself, but ask others for help when I need it.
If you need support in starting, building or maintaining your business, let me know. Having an advocate who keeps you motivated and focused, and being accountable to a coach can bring you success much faster. Do you want a hobby or a business? firstname.lastname@example.org or 818-508-1678