Only the brave

Do it afraid. I never had the courage or all the words as I stepped into an office or made a call. I collected my courage on the way and discarded fears by the wayside as I went along. So does one have to be brave? No, one just has to be willing to try.

Dear Diary,

I’ve been hitting the pavement, not out of frustration but in need of sales. Yeah, I have been putting words into practice and going out there to sing my song. To practice my elevator pitch, not quite as polished as I reflect on losing my words as soon as I was faced with potential customers’ enquiring eyes.

I went to bed excited, looking forward to a good night’s sleep. I lay my head on the pillow giddy as I thought of all the yesses I would collect. Seeing myself with all the obvious attachments riches can buy, a shiny me whirring past in my new car going from business meeting to meeting. The only thing that met with me was dread as the hours past. I didn’t sleep a wink. The ecstasy of glory turned into something very real as my alarm went off. Fear.

When ironing a shirt takes too long

I was still vaguely excited of course. But more so fearful. What was I going to say to these people? Where will I start gleaning contacts? I drank my coffee slowly, ate breakfast slowly. Anything to delay the inevitable. Suddenly, I couldn’t decide what to wear and my hair just wouldn’t cooperate. Before leaving the house my only frustration seemed myself, my own mind, not even people saying no to me and my business.

I finally left the house and I drove through a few areas. I felt like a stalker, looking into businesses, scouring the local CBD for my next big break. By now I’ve already hyped myself up so much I could run a marathon around the city. I discovered this:

What not to do:

  • Look disheveled
  • Hype yourself up to a point where you feel anxious
  • Being unprepared
  • Not having sales aids or tools
  • Trying too hard to the point of being inauthentic
  • Not having a follow-up plan
  • Taking too long to leave the house not planning the day before
  • Just winging it
  • Using outdated methods to engage with innovative customers
  • Not researching my customers
  • Don’t be desperate, don’t Resort to harassment to wear down resolve in order to get a sale

Crossing over

These are some of the mistakes I made. However irrational my fear was, I knew I had to work through it. I think my fears were more about me holding onto my old self. The person who was pampered and safe in my little employment cacoon. Being fed and petted every time I did what I was supposed to do to keep my job.

I was fearful that I would be lost as soon as I left the house to go make my own way, to be in control of my own professional life, start to finish. I knew that as soon as I hit the pavement and knock on the door of a customer, I would cross over. Unable to return to that person I used to be. I will have a hand in making myself severely uncomfortable. I will have no more excuses to hold myself back. Because I am proving that I can do it.

And so it was, as soon as I went to knock on a few doors, heard a few nos (thankfully, no hell nos yet). I crossed over. Felt a knot each time but pushed trough. I didn’t get a yes on my first day, but I got a lot of maybes. That’s fine, a maybe I can work with.

A lot of the time cold calling a customer is about making contact. It’s a brief introduction, something that leads you to a follow-up meeting if you can get a hold of the right person. Other times it’s trying to get past the receptionist, who is well briefed in dealing with my repping types. I take my hat off to you. But it’s a challenge, it’s something to bounce back from. It’s asking myself, so then what will I try next to get to the right person. That decision-maker, who might give me a yes?

Getting to yes

  • Be prepared
  • Ask a different question
  • Think
  • Then think creatively
  • Sound and be important (be able to back that up). This should make you ask questions about the readiness of your business to service clients properly
  • Be at the right place at the right time, where else can you find these decision-makers besides at their office?
  • Research the companies you call on
  • Be noticed, update profiles, join business communities, engage in activities where business professionals meet
  • Look the part
  • wash, rinse, repeat

This certainly isn’t an instant heat microwaveable result. Its something that takes time and effort and great care to cultivate. It’s your future clients who will have the ability to make or break your business. The people who will review you on public platforms and encourage others to do business with you. How can you ready your business for these customers?

Get ready for that yes

  • Have sales aids: flyers, business cards, something to leave behind
  • Follow up with a call after a few days and set up a meeting
  • Practice your pitch, but let it flow into the conversation, don’t be a parrot rattling stuff off.
  • Know their problems or create the “want factor”.
  • Know how your business can solve the problem or satisfy their want factor
  • Have paperwork ready: create spreadsheets for customer profiles, sales agreements, contracts, etc.

Crossing over again and again. It seems I will do this until it becomes a new habit. Training my brain! I’m evolving and becoming better and better with each step I take. With every no, yes and maybe heard. I wrap my brain around it and dissect it, studying it thoroughly until I can find possibilities and solutions. Being an entrepreneur, for me is about my evolution in business. Happy to make profits as I go along but also happy to discover how I grow as a person each time.

It’s being brave enough to let go of the comfort I’ve come to know and love. To challenge myself forward. To do what needs to be done for my business even when I am afraid of rejection. I have found that it’s better to regard my customers as people who want the same things I want. Good value! This makes them instantly more personable.

They don’t bite

After a while, I learned to use my fear of rejection. I gave myself a pep talk before entering each door: the worst they can say is no, they won’t kill you or swear at you and tell you to get out unless you sell offensive nonsense. They won’t (and shouldn’t) bite you. I found that people are often polite even when it’s a no. They see that you’re trying to be productive and you’re trying to do your job.

By fitting your product into their needs, they see that you care to make a real difference in their business and you’re not just there to ring up sales. That’s when I get a yes when I can convince someone of this.

Do it afraid. I never had the courage or all the words as I stepped into an office or made a call. I collected my courage on the way and discarded fears by the wayside as I went along. So does one have to be brave? No, one just has to be willing to try.

"Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working." Picaso

Until tomorrow, dear Diary

Ultimate influencer

In want of a mentor. Finding my future self within a business person right now. The one who will become my ultimate influencer.

Wanted: Mentor

Dear Diary,

I need someone to look up to in business. Someone I can learn from. A person I can trust to teach me the right way to do business and give me the right information.

How do I go about finding this person? Is it a public figure I admire from afar or someone close to home? Is it someone I know to be successful so that I can learn the tricks of the trade and have full confidence in their ability based on their track record? Someone to teach me how to accomplish the same success they’re experiencing.

Is it the latest influencer on Insta. Someone with millions of followers. I could be one of those followers. But what will this new class of admirable business people teach me? Perhaps something about image? Presentation? Customer perception? Cultivating support in a competitive environment? Staying power and versatility. How to keep being relevant in a fast-paced niche where trends are constantly evolving. Perhaps they can teach me something about evolving the ‘self’ as a business.

Someone known

Should I take a traditional approach. Find someone I know. Someone whose hand I can shake and speak to face to face. Someone seasoned in the hard knocks and recovery of business. Who’ve tried and failed and gotten up to try again. A person I’ve watched evolve before my very eyes, seen them holding their heads in their hands in momentary defeat to a financial conundrum.

The ONE

A Neo I’ve seen dodge creditors like bullets flying into an invisible wall falling in a pile at their feet. Someone who has created for themselves a matrix. A world within a world. An escape from a dire reality, devoid of glory and pomp. Into a world at their choosing, of their making. A world outside of the world they know, a new world. A simulation of networks and characters working together towards a common goal: survival within the system. Escapism, from a known reality but also an escape from deletion.

Yes, I love the movie the matrix, clearly. But I’d like to do more than just survive at something. I would love to succeed and leave a legacy. Continuance, longevity, glory.

Who is the person that will teach me to expertly dodge ‘bullets’? Who is the ONE? The ultimate influencer the person who could persuade me and steer my direction. Yes, the direction of my choosing but ultimately influenced. Actions taken believed to be right because someone said so. Who has that say so? How do we choose them and allow them to be co-engineer in our network? Who will prevent, in the very least delay, our deletion? How will they help our upskill in the way of spine flexing exercise to the dodge? Someone to be the shield that will come to stop, drop and roll our enemies on the ground?

These are the important questions I must ask myself.

Arsenal of mentors

In truth, I could go with an army of mentors. But the decision, the action will inevitably be mine alone. Everyone is your influencer. But you are the neo of your own business. The one that decides to do it or not. You will become an influence too. In your business, your family, your community.

Perhaps a good question to ask myself is, what kind of influencer/mentor do I want to be? To this answer, my current mentor will arise because I will be seeking within them a certain ME. A future me and they will help me get there.

What will be your substance, the depth in your commodity. The likes 100 to your life-altering gift to the world. Is allowing yourself to be influenced in the name of the person, or in the content they provide. Is it their entertainment value. Who are they in the day to day behind the screen version of yourself. Will they help you make a success of yourself. Can you become them on your current path, can you influence others by said legacy.

Real question is, in the quest to become an influencer yourself in business…Who will most likely influence you toward the success you want to be? That is a mentor, surely. You must influence your market in a positive way so that they want to do business with you. So then a good mentor has the ability to teach you about influence. Good marketing, good flexibility to problems in business.

Criteria for a good mentor:

  • They will have been successful at what you are attempting to do
  • Seasoned in business
  • Open-minded and positive attitude
  • Ability to influence others based on their results
  • Problem solver
  • Willingness to teach and mentor others
  • Willingness to learn and grow themselves ( no one has all the answers)
  • Challenges you and pushes you forward
  • Encourages you and tells you to reward yourself when you’ve done well

These are some of the important points I can look for. Because they are values I want to emulate. Values I want to repeat in my own business. What should my attitude be like? Why should anyone want to mentor me?

How to get a mentor:

  • Be teachable
  • Use discernment (not everyone has the right answers)
  • Be proactive and ask, don’t sit and wait for a mentor to fall in your lap.
  • Practice what you get preached. Learn for yourself too.
  • Screen potential mentors. Let go of people who are not the right fit for you.
  • Show commitment
  • Take good advice

I certainly don’t have to do this by myself. As this process can often be kind of lonely, it is important for me to venture out there and to find someone who can assist me on this incredible journey that is entrepreneurship.

Until tomorrow, dear Diary.

Time equals cost

Knowing how much your time is worth gives you a sense of where to pin financial goals for yourself and for your business. By working through things like budgets and expense reports the bigger picture starts to become clearer.

When time is not enough or when you have too much time.

Dear Diary,

Considering the fact that I now work for myself, my reality of how I spend my time changed drastically. I still find myself sitting and waiting at my desk. Perhaps for instruction or inspiration to strike or both to jump start me into my routine. As much as I don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to ready myself for someone else’s business, I must evaluate how my time will be spent within the day.

I now have to prioritize what I do and at what time, as opposed to other things just done at random that don’t serve the end goal. Similarly, this means that I am becoming more disciplined as my day goes along. I sort and organize my day and find that I often have to do this ahead of time so that on the day in question I dive right in and hit the ground running. If I don’t plan ahead then I sit in the morning for long periods at a time (like the whole morning) trying to organize my tasks for the day.

Does one take a day in advance to sit and go through what is a priority and what is not and set a schedule based on the findings? How much is this of value to me as a newfound business person? Does it mean I’m losing days or gaining them by comparison to my job as an employee? What if I assign a cost to my days? To see how much my chosen free time and working time are affecting my budget?

I have put together a rough budget to evaluate how that affects my per hour cost. I must start by managing myself in order to manage my business effectively.

Personal expenses report

By writing down all my expenses and assigning a cost per hour to it I can see how much my time is costing me in my business. This budget merely takes into account my personal expenses. The business will also incur expenses for itself, which will add to my personal expenses. It is important to count the cost of running a business to see if you can afford it. Otherwise, you can place yourself under added financial pressure. My proposed business is internet based and is seemingly less expensive in terms of an initial financial outlay. However, I am still responsible for buying related software and licenses, perhaps even additional equipment to make an online business work.

I have roughly calculated that my per hour personal expense is a cost of R76.43. So for every hour that I choose not to do something for my business, I lose R76.43 alone. I have become a cost to my business too, I am it’s employee now, it has to look after me and pay me for work supplied. I have to work not only to cover my business costs but also my personal costs, which the business incurred when I decided to start it. My business has expenses and costs that desperately need to be covered by a certain time before it even starts to operate within the market properly. Scary thought.

Prioritize

This means that I cannot afford to be idle. I have to use my time wisely. I have to decide if I am causing added expense for my business or if I am working productively. Meaning, Is watching Netflix helping me produce work that is saleable for my business to make a profit in those hours? Or surely doing sales calls for that amount of time is better for my business. Comparatively, my time vs business time has to be prioritized.

Because I now work for myself, I might need to work on weekends and on public holidays to get work done. If I choose not to work and I compare it to the day rate I would’ve made as an employee, this becomes a personal cost to me. Provided it is within reason as it is related to how much money one wishes to make, achieving certain financial goals within a set time limit. It becomes an even greater personal cost if I have not produced income receiving work within my work week. As a result, I make a loss because my expenses will inevitably pile up while no income is received.

If I made R980 as an employee on a public holiday, how can I recover that ‘loss of income’ within my business? Does this mean I now have to work each and every holiday plus days in the week and weekends to recover money lost? No, this is why setting a budget for myself is important. How do I do this?

Budget questions

  • What do I need? (meaning what is urgent)
  • What do I want? (meaning, what is a luxury that I can wait for?)
  • What can I do without? (can I sell or trade something to ease financial burden) e.g lighting equipment from my photography hobby, old cell phone, my second car, etc.
  • What are my expenses? (everything I must pay for)
  • What are all my sources of income? Including spouse’s contributions
  • What are my savings? (money saved up from fixed deposits, 32-day accounts, investments)

As we answer these questions by writing them down, our budget starts formulating. Knowing how much your time is worth you get a sense of where to pin financial goals for yourself and for your business. By working through things like budgets and expense reports the bigger picture starts to become clearer. A business needs to focus on sales. There must be a focus on income. This leads us to think of ways in which we can become better at sales in order to get an income. Sounds obvious, but it’s not always logical when we just look at the peak of the mountain that is business. There is so much to it. Clearly defined, logical ‘pathways’ are required for us to get to the top.

How can we focus on income?

  • Invest in sales training (free courses are available online)
  • Read books and online articles
  • Ask to be trained, by a mentor or business wiling to help, volunteer
  • Work in sales part-time
  • Practice by doing it in your business (sales calls, email marketing, direct sales)

I have lots to think about regarding my time and having costs assigned to it now that I am in business for myself. I may have more liberties as a self-employed person, but that doesn’t mean that I can do as I please. Our time becomes more valuable, which means we choose wisely what we spend it on. It could mean the difference between failure and success.

Until tomorrow, dear Diary.

Redefine the status quo

Dear Diary,

I came across this excerpt earlier today. It got me thinking about how easy it is to give up in the face of adversity. A few months into your journey on making your dream come true, it certainly gets harder and harder to keep going, doesn’t it? We find we’re not as full of zeal as we once were, it’s trying just to put a foot out the bed and make it to the computer to do some work. The bills are piling up and we haven’t received the glitz and glory envisioned in our dream. Instead, we’re faced with the stark reality of “amounts due”, “payable immediately”, random theft of my car wipers (why). But take heart, we will face discomfort in our pursuit of happiness. This is a good thing because we learn to grow.

Signs you’re on the right track :

  • You’re often uncomfortable
  • A little stressed, but in a different way
  • Racing mind, overthinking
  • Easily irritated and fidgety
  • Frustrated at times
  • Becoming disillusioned, starting to see things how they are, reality
  • Trying endlessly to solve problems
  • Having to self motivate constantly
  • Referring to your plan regularly to maintain focus
  • Open-mindedness
  • Listening more
  • More creative
  • Energized by achieving your goals
  • Thinking about things critically
  • Open to seeking assistance
  • Seeking out like-minded people
  • A feeling of being free and happy regardless of current circumstances
  • More hopeful
  • Able to encourage others in difficulty
  • More altruistic
  • Taking criticism positively

I read a cool thing in Robert Kiyosaki’s book “Before you quit your job”, that as an entrepreneur one has to have the ability to ‘suspend disbelief’. In a sense, it speaks of making something out of nothing and to work wonders with what you have even if it’s not much. To keep on working, even if there is no promise of breakthrough just yet. To keep on believing that your present circumstances will work together for the greater good of your end goal, and to get others to believe this too.

How do we do this?

  • Stick to a routine, that schedule you’ve set for yourself daily
  • Go see you mentor, or friend who encourages you to keep pushing
  • Find ways of alternative sources of income without giving up on your dreams
  • Speak to your creditors and work out a payment plan that suits both of you. Communicate with them instead of avoiding them.
  • Face the issues you have to deal with and come up with viable solutions for them
  • Don’t give up!

Reading the fine print. Meaning don’t get unpleasantly surprised. We must be fully aware of all the details pertaining to making this work and we must be prepared to deal with the consequences of our decisions at every step of the process. Redefine the way things have always been done. Some processes should never be repeated again but happen over and over again because some people are ignorant of a better way to do something. Or just comfortably willingly ignorant. Don’t be that person. Seek to improve processes and if necessary change them or discard them altogether. Set new standards for an inclusive society of equal opportunity, challenge elitist separatist thinking. Be growth-oriented.

Did you know the brain actually creates new neural pathways when we challenge ourselves to do something new or in a different way than before. We are so reliant on existing patterns of thinking that when repeated become short cuts we rely on for quick-fire decision making, this forms part of a psychological study of Heuristic thinking. This is also what contributes to your world view, one that often becomes rigid over time. Setting in motion your status quo, the way you’ve always done things because of how you’ve experienced things and have known them to be. So if we choose differently and do differently and repeat these behaviours, we create new ways of registering information in our brain. This is growth on a neuropsychological level and scientific proof that we can change if we apply ourselves ๐Ÿ˜‰ We have no excuse, we can train our brain toward change. We just have to stick to the process and not give up.

Excerpt from Very Well Mind:

(Link to resource below)

It will be easier to give up and regress into comfort but don’t. It’s a trap. Knuckle down and keep moving forward. You can do it. You are living your truth when you do. People around you might not understand what you are doing or why. But you do, you understand, you know why! End of story.

Until tomorrow, dear Diary.

Business with aliens

Seeking to pioneer, facilitate and manage lines of proposed business.

Dear Diary,

I have been pondering these questions: What turns people into customers? How do we get to ask people what they want if we don’t know them in the first place? How do we match our skills, what’s needed in the market and what people want to buy to be considered ‘in business’. Businesses fail often out of a misunderstanding of what customers want and trying to enforce a product or a service that serves no value in your chosen market. So how do we combat this to avoid a business that is only useful to aliens in outer space? Who even knows what an alien wants. The notion is a separatist one, one isolated by differing world views and location. Let this not be me.

I think a good place to start is where you live, your proximity. Your relation to where you are right now to what is required around you. Go outside and take a walk around your community. Venture into the local small businesses like Coffee shops and Superettes, build relationships with the people who own these shops. Ask them about their business. Go to the local library, enquire about information regarding the community. Activities that are taking place that is pinned on the community board. Join the neighbourhood watch and volunteer to serve in local projects. To get business? No, to get plugged in. To use your senses. To look at what is going on around you and to listen to what people are saying. Read the local newspaper. Like that page on Facebook that offers information about your surroundings. Get to know people you wouldn’t normally “hang out” with.

Begin to ask questions. Engage with people on blogs and online forums about the subject of business you are interested in. Begin to gather information and compile a body of research to which you can refer to when needed. Be careful with this, actually use the information gathered to think of a service or product that can serve people and provide real benefit to them. Otherwise, it turns into a self-promoting exercise that only you get enriched by. This is seeking to build in isolation and propping up a footstool on the backs of unsuspecting hardworking people. Learn from them to serve them better and then instead of amassing wealth for yourself, invest back into your community by improving skills of the less fortunate, creating safer environments for families, creating further employment opportunities.

Getting to know your neighbours is the point of this exercise. People do business with people they know and trust, with people they like. Become someone people can get to know and trust. This means becoming a friend. A genuine caring friend. This means having no hidden agendas about profit-making, but a mutually beneficial partnership. Be transparent and honest about intentions. Express a desire to improve yourself and improving your community and enlist ‘helpers’. Yes, an entrepreneur goes into business with the idea of making a profit from a proposed venture. However, I think a different approach is warranted. What if an entrepreneur goes into business not only to make a profit for themselves but with the goal of enriching lives around them too. To build networks of new entrepreneurs who have been inspired and trained up by your work in their community. Providing instant support for businesses through trusted relationships. We build our network by adopting an inclusive mindset. Instead of an exclusive club for the elite, a club that aims to hoard riches and further marginalize those in need.

Who do we sell to? We sell to people we know. We sell to friends and family, people we care about. What’s great about this kind of thinking is that when we sell to people we care about, we care about what we choose to sell to them. Quality service or product. We take their investment in us seriously, we are grateful for it too. We want to keep them happy and have them come back to buy from us repeatedly. They, in turn, are satisfied by the product or service we provide as it makes a notable difference in their lives. They tell other people about us too and how happy we make them. Other people even strangers come to buy from us as a result and we take pride in this process. Now we are ‘in business’.

"The purpose of a business is to create a customer who creates customers" Shiv Singh

We buy from people we like. In your community is there a service provider like this? Someone you like? How do they make you feel as a customer? Why would you go back?

Ways in which we can build a network:

  • Get plugged into your surroundings/your community
  • Keep your eyes and your ears open/ observe what is around you and listen to what people say and the advice they offer
  • Be genuine about reasons for connecting with people
  • Don’t be self-serving, but seek to build up your community too
  • Get to know people outside of your usual circle
  • Make new friends
  • Pioneer, facilitate and manage lines of proposed business
" All of your customers are partners in your mission"  Shep Hyken

We cannot do business in isolation, every step requires 1 or many to be involved. So let aliens do what they do best, be elusive. As for the real people on earth, do business where other people with a real need for your business exist.

Until tomorrow, dear Diary.

p.s I don’t really believe in aliens ๐Ÿ˜‰