As The Buzz Maker!™ celebrates eight years and we move from the “fiscal cliff” to recovery and growth, I pause to reflect on the soul of entrepreneurship in a post-recession economy. I’m still around, and I’m thankful. There are some core principles, beliefs and habits that have really been at the heart of this little success story. Here are 10 worth sharing:
Practice super abundance – Always give more than is expected. Be super abundant. Treat each and every customer or client as if they are the most important person. Like Henry Ford used to say, “It is not the employer that pays the wages. The employer only handles the money. It is the customer that pays the wages.”
Stay out on that limb – As my friend and colleague Daniel Moneypenny, CCO of 25-year branding and ideation firm Emaginit says, “Being an entrepreneur is all about going out on a limb.” Being out on the limb means you’ve got to get used to the weather, and sometimes, there’s a lot of weather. The only people who truly fail are those who give up. Never give up. Be prepared to fail big and stick around, but think and behave as if it is impossible to fail. If you’re having a really challenging day, be like Elizabeth Taylor; “Pour yourself a drink, put some lipstick on and pull yourself together.”
Be a solution provider – In order to capture hearts, minds and, yes, budget, you’ve got to be ready to answer the “What’s in it for me?” question for your client or customer. If you’re a service provider like I am, your job is to help others prosper. Ask diagnostic questions, listen to the answers, and be ready to explain how you can help to resolve a challenge, solve a problem, save money, make money, and/or reduce stress for the customer. And, then set about doing exactly that.
Apply the Pareto Principle – Also known as the 80/20 rule, The Pareto Principle simply states that 80% of the effects result from 20% of the causes. Applied in business, this means that 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your customers or clients. So, spend 80% of your time and energy on the 20% of activities and relationships that will result 80% of your success. Time cannot be saved, but can only be spent. Your time is the most valuable thing you can give. When you spend it, you spend a piece of your life. So, spend it wisely. Eliminate or delegate the least important things.
Ask – As Brian Tracy says, “The future belongs to the askers.” So, ask for what you want. Ask for the work. Ask for the opportunity. Ask for the project. Keep asking.
Be authentic – There has never been anyone who is uniquely you. Be yourself. Bring your unique gifts, skills, talents, experience, perspective and personality to the table. Ditch the persona. This one thing makes you instantly magnetic. Business is still about relationships. To build meaningful relationships, you’ve got to show up to the party dressed as, well…YOU.
Say no – That seems counterintuitive, right? But, the reality is that saying no to the wrong opportunities is at least as important, perhaps more important, than saying yes to the right opportunities. Say yes to the opportunities that will allow you to be a true solution provider, that focus on your expertise, or that you’re downright passionate about, and say no to the rest.
Be confident in your worth – Resist the urge to do more for less or to significantly reduce your fees. This is a very common mistake that many entrepreneurs make, and I’ve made it, too. Yes, you’ve got to do your research and be competitive. But, know your value.
Tell the truth – Be truthful and ethical at all times. Resist the desire to make excuses or pass the buck. If you make a mistake (and you will), own it. Be gracious, and do your best to make it right, or make amends. Be someone worthy of trust.
Network, network, network – When times are tough, people in business generally experience a lot of fear. In that kind of climate, it has been my experience that people do business with two kinds of people – Someone they know and trust, or someone referred to them by someone they know and trust. So, make the time to network with others, including other entrepreneurs. Share with them. Listen to them. Support and encourage them. Learn from them. Brainstorm about creative ways you can help one another prosper.
And, always stay out on that limb. The weather is fine.
Tracy L. Teuscher, APR – Copyright 2013