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Some Tips For Those Just Starting Out
Some Tips For Those Just Starting Out
I get a lot of mail from a lot of people looking for a lot of advice. Most of the questions I get are along the lines of:
Wow! These certainly look like simple questions, but to answer them in depth with the knowledge I have gained through my own trial and error, through encounters with people far smarter than I, and through many, many associations with people all over the world and in all walks of life, would take me easily a month of Sundays! However, if these are questions you have at some time posed to yourself, I am happy to offer a few tips to get you started and to give you some food for thought:
--First and foremost, join Toastmasters International as fast as you can. It's an absolutely amazing organization and will benefit anybody who wants to get ahead in business. Contrary to what many of you may think, it is not only an organization for people who want to become public speakers. Through the Toastmasters program you will learn to think on your feet, to use a minimum number of words for a maximum impact, and to support your words and thoughts with corroborating facts. Your presentations to prospective clients will become tight and focused and you'll be able to respond to any questions with confidence. Toastmasters also offers a phenomenally supportive environment .
--Learn to set boundaries early on. Don't allow yourself to be at the beck and call of your clients and perspective clients. Many of us are so set on delivering superior customer service and trying to be all things to all people, that we lose sight of the fact that we are sacrificing our personal lives in order to please our customers.
If you are a realtor, a coach, a salesman, or someone else who works into the evening hours, take out your Daytimer and place a big fat "X" in the time block between 3:00 and 7:00 PM (or whatever hours work best for you). If anybody calls and wants to make an appointment for those hours, tell them you're unavailable due to another appointment. It will be absolutely true.You will indeed be unavailable, and the appointments you have will be with yourself or with your family. This will allow you to take an exercise class, to pick your children up at school, to actually eat a meal from a plate instead of from a Styrofoam container, and to do anything else that is important to the preservation of your sanity. Instead of losing clients (and becoming burned out), you'll gain respect for yourself and find that people understand and respect the fact that you have previous appointments. Rarely will you lose business because someone had to wait three hours to see a house or schedule a coaching call at a different time.
Another important thing regarding setting boundaries: Get a second telephone line if your business is home based. Under no circumstances give out your "home" number to anyone other than close friends and family. Answer your business phone line during business hours only and have a recording on your answering machine or voice mail stating what your business hours are. No more 8:00 PM or Sunday business calls for you! It won't take people too long to "get it." Just because you're a homebased business, doesn't mean you don't have a life. We all need "off" time--those precious hours for rejuvenation. You'll never get them if you're always "on call." Respect yourself and your time and others will respect you, too!
--Understand that not all business is good business. There's a lot of business out there and a lot of wonderful people to do it with. Life is so much sweeter if you surround yourself with those wonderful , sincere, and pleasant people. Let somebody else do business with the jerks of this world.
--Allow yourself permission to make mistakes. Don't beat yourself up every time you do. Instead realize that we learn from every mistake we make, and every obstacle in our paths serves to make us stronger and better at what we do.
--Take a cue from Nike and "Just do it!" So many of us are set on getting ready, to get started, to begin, to prepare, to get organized, to think about, etc., that we miss the chances that are placed before us. If we wait for all the planets to be in complete alignment on a good hair day, we'll never get anything done. I certainly believe in preparation, but sooner or later, we're all going to have to take the plunge and venture out into a world where things aren't perfect and aren't always safe. That world is where the opportunities lie.
--Know who has your clients! I don't mean your competition, I mean people who cater to the same clientele you do. Those are the people you should be networking with---not every Tom Dick and Harry at a Chamber of Commerce mixer. Is your target market upper income baby boomers? If so, what are they spending their money on? In other words, whose services are they using and who has access to them? If high end (and aging) boomers are your target market, for example, you might want to start forming strategic alliances with cosmetic surgeons, rheumatologist, cosmetic dentists, florists, divorce lawyers, therapists, stock brokers, golf pros, financial planners, massage therapists, wedding planners, etc. Building your business is so much easier when you know whose business you want and who else has got it.
--Finally, if at first you don't succeed, never EVER think of yourself as a failure. Simply think of yourself as someone who just hasn't succeeded yet! With that attitude, you surely will. :-)
© 2000 Leni Chauvin