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  • Using outdated methods to engage with innovative customers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

So many questions

Asking yourself valid questions about your new found venture and then seeking the answers.

Dear Diary

Since I’m feeling this way, I’m going to do something about it instead of complain about how I loathe going to work every day to do the same thing over and over. I think the responsible thing to do is to leave and let someone else who really wants the job to get the opportunity to be employed and make a real difference here. I want to make a difference by doing something else.

I have been feeling guilty about this Diary because I’m supposed to be “gainfully employed” right? How will I pay my bills? So may reports say that business start-ups fail within the first 5 years. I’m worried about this Diary. What if I fail?

I read up on some stats exploring the reasons why some people start businesses and why those businesses fail:

What if I succeed? I’m curious about this. I dream of being debt-free and traveling the world. I dream about starting other businesses and helping people. I dream of being financially free to do whatever I choose. These dreams drive me to risk the safety of my comfort. They say that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side Diary, but I figured..what if I water it there? What if I did some research about the environment, the soil, the weather patterns and what the most suitable type of grass would be for all these factors. What if I plant new grass there?

What drove other entrepreneurs before me? Why would they take the risk and not me? Do you need something special, or someone to tell you: “yes, you may go ahead now”. There are so many obstacles to this, why? So many conflicting thoughts and emotions. So much fear. Why Diary? Is it not just like any other occupation? Are there not skills one can learn to reduce the risk, a support system one can make use of? What if I don’t have enough money to start a business? What about my expenses? My family, my car, my home? How will I even get money for equipment for my business? Who will give me this money? These are the new questions I now have Diary. I’m not always sure about the answers, perhaps I have a lot of work to do. For as much as starting a business starts in the heart with a feeling to do more, travels to the brain to reason through the logistics of it all, it has to eventually progress into a plan of action for the body to do. This is not as easy as I had thought Diary. Perhaps I need a mentor, someone I can consult and help me with my questions.

So what are they saying to me Diary? That I should become familiar with failure? That I should even go as far as to study business failure? Is this a prerequisite to business success? So if I am supposed to become well versed in business failure, does this mean that I am actually learning about preventative measures, perhaps even resilience? So with this said Diary, my plan is to start with possible endings in mind. This also means I have to carefully pick my type of business. I see now how being swept up in my feelings of a new adventure can quickly end in failure if I am not careful. So then, how do I find the balance Diary? Between passion, which I need to drive me to do this great task and critical reasoning, which I also need to prevent possible failure through proper research and planning. It seems like I need a healthy balance of the two and knowing when the right skill is applicable. I clearly have a lot to learn Diary, but I am already intrigued by it all!

Until tomorrow, dear Diary.