By Myers-Briggs definition I am an introvert. I draw my energy and resources from time alone. Conversely, being in a crowd of people drains my energies and I end up exhausted after being with a group (more than a hour can be very long!). I am also shy and hesitant around strangers – which is not necessarily the same as being an introvert. Of course, the challenge is I am also a solopreneur – which means I am also THE salesperson for my company and THAT is a challenge!
When I started this business I didn’t even think of sales! (Can we say “naive”!) What a horrible shock to discover I was going to have to become a sales person. I felt like I was pimping my business! I went to seminars and learned techniques on how to sell only to walk away with a knot the size of New Jersey in the pit of my stomach.
Sharon Wood, the first female to climb K-2 said, “We do not conquer mountains nor tame elements. The true conquest lies in penetrating the mental barriers, those self-imposed limitations that we carry in our minds.” Geoffrey M Bellman in his book The Consultant’s Calling – Bringing who you are to what you do writes, “I see consulting [in here put your own business adventure] as my opportunity for self-discovery, rather than just a way to make a living. I believe that work, though essential to life is not life.” Lou Cassara in his book Client Creation – from Selling to Serving says, “be a First-Rate Version of Yourself, rather than a second rate version of someone else”.
With that in mind, today, as a matter of growth and becoming self-actualized, I made some cold calls. It has taken me 3 weeks to get up the courage to do this. There were days I’d pick up the phone and get physically sick to my stomach, but today I did it. My friends Stacy and Laurie helped me immensely! We role played and Stacy said to me all the things I’ve said in the past. Then while Stacy was making her calls, I made mine. We were partners in the adventure! You know what…I’m still breathing! There’s nothing like getting your mental thoughts going in the right direction and some good solid support to climb the Mt. Everest of Fears. Thank you Stacy and Laurie! And to those who received my calls today – thanks for not being rude, dismissive, cold-hearted creeps. You were human and humane. Funny how it works that way!
Danger Will Robinson! Myopic Solopreneur Sighted!
Tony Robinson talks about “Terminal Uniqueness”. He has a picture of someone laying down on the road as if he were a speed bump – car approaching. I wonder how many solopreneurs have felt that way, I have at times – usually after listening too long to Chucky or one of Chucky’s supporters. Somehow, I get trapped into thinking that the struggles I’m going through are unique to me. Whether it’s technological challenges like yesterday, learning new technology, like today (many thanks to Steve Pillitu for teaching me more intricacies of WordPress!), or the abyss of Administrivia there are times when I feel like I’m the only one with these glitches and hang-ups.
On my vision board there’s a quote from Sri Chinmoy, “Do not enter into the world of comparison. Just dare to better yourself every day without fail.” I think this is the only way to get out of Terminal Uniqueness – to get my eyes off myself and back into the world around me…to look for someone I can help, to engage with one of my “cheerleaders”, to take a few moments and give thanks for what is good that surrounds me. Today it was the sunshine, the beautiful fall colors, money to deposit, a car that runs, and cheerleaders. Yep, it’s been a great day to NOT be terminally unique.
What are the ways you handle your moments of “terminal uniqueness”? Have you thanked your “cheerleaders” lately? November’s a good month for saying “Thanks!” You never know who you might help out of their “TU”
I taught myself the computer back on the old TRS 80 (around the late 70’s early 80’s). Before that I taught my supervisor in the IT Dept how to use a keypunch machine – way back in the old days of cards with punched holes that the computer translated into print (late 60’s early 70’s). I wasn’t a dummy in those days, but last night I felt all the “dummy” come out – I couldn’t figure out how to post my first blog! I thank God for people like Don Burrows and Deborah Drake who are willing to come alongside someone who doesn’t know what they are doing and give them a helping hand!
So, even tho’ being a Solopreneur means no employees – it doesn’t mean you have to go it alone! There are always others who are farther down that path who are willing and able to help. And how sweet it is when you in turn can help someone behind you!
The 30 Day Challenge!
I read somewhere that being a small business owner is an adventure – it’s a walk/run/fall into the unknown every day. I’ve never been the adventurous type, preferring to get those thrills vicariously (albeit safely) through movies or a good mystery. However, being a Small Business Owner is not a vicarious thrill – it’s ever present, fully engaged and putting it all out there for everyone to see, taking the risk and learning from mistakes and failures. Someone else said “if you aren’t failing at something you aren’t trying”.
Well, here’s me trying: Today is the first day of a 30 day challenge. The challenge is to write a blog everyday for the month of November. This whole blogging phenomenon in itself is a challenge for me so writing one every day is really “upping the ante”! Thanks to Deborah Drake I’m taking up the challenge.
However, there are 3 questions I have to face when I think about blogging: 1) what do I want to write about? 2) what do people in my target market want to read about? And 3) if they aren’t the same – what do I do? 4) Actually, there’s a fourth question that lingers in the air for me: How in the heck am I suppose to know/ be sure of / be certain of what “my people” want to read about?
Answering these questions is going to be what I’m blogging about this week. Maybe they will get answered and I’ll move on to something else that puzzles me about being a solopreneur. There are lots of things that puzzle me which is why I’m not a Business Coach and I’ve lots of respect for those who are. I’m a Life Coach and Life is a puzzle – in the process of being put together or a series of questions waiting to be answered. Some puzzles are more fun than others and some questions easier than others!
Fourth question first: How am I to know what my clients want to read about? It’s been suggested that I ask. I’ve thought about that, but I hesitate to bother them with my quandary. All the “What if’s” that come to mind leave me afraid to venture forth. Yet, these folks were / are ideal clients. Some I haven’t had contact with in over a year. What if I email them and they respond? What if I email them and they don’t?
I just realized Chucky is speaking again. My “What if’s” assume the worst – rejection! But what if they are glad to hear from me? What if they’re willing to answer the question? I might get some really good stuff to blog about that helps them too. Ummm, think I’ll put together a short survey and see what happens!
I just watched the movie Social Networking. If you are a solopreneur and you want to grow to something bigger – this movie is a “must see”. It’s about the kid who created Facebook and we can all learn from his mistakes.
I’m a granny and social media has had me bamboozled for the longest time. In many ways it still does! It really helped me to understand the “why” of social media by watching this movie. More importantly tho’ it reaffirmed some major lessons I want my clients who are small business owners to keep in mind:
Get clear about why you are doing what you are doing (your mission).
- What’s the experience you want people to have as a result of working with you? This isn’t just a nice document to hang on the wall, it’s what you want people to feel as they walk away.
Be very clear about what you want to create, your vision (the “how” you are going to do your mission).
- What service or product is going to be your tool for people to have the experience you want them to have?
Be true to yourself and your values, whether the money is coming in or not, don’t give up what’s important to you just to make a buck.
- This can be a real challenge when the money isn’t coming in, but when you look yourself in the mirror, when you look into the eyes of your spouse or children the only thing you can give them that will really last is who you are.
Take the time to clearly communicate your mission and vision and don’t get involved with (don’t hire) someone who isn’t completely committed to the same.
- In the book Good to Great by Jim Collins talks about getting the right people on the bus and getting them into the right seats. If you don’t have the right people on the bus you’re going to have a miserable trip and so will everyone else!
Treat others the way you want to be treated – it’s not much fun to be the richest kid in the world only to find yourself at the top and you’re alone.
- ‘Nuff said?
There’s more to be said about all this later, but in the meantime, if you haven’t seen it yet – rent it. I might even buy it! If you have seen it what did you think of it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Until next time: “Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” (Mark Twain)