The entrepreneurial bug hit me early. The first time I got that rush of excitement takes me back to selling gum for the cub scouts door to door. I realized then that I wanted to be number one, and remembered that feeling of pleasure when a sale was made.
Fast forward to high school selling encyclopedias and learning a lesson about myself in the process. I remember having to memorize the sales script before heading out with the “boss” and others on a drive one evening up to small towns in New Hampshire, about an hour from my home. Someone made a sale of the entire World Book Encyclopedia plus yearly updates and everyone was ecstatic from the manager on down. But… I had to open my mouth. What was this guy with no family, and it appeared not much money going to do with his purchase? “Who cares, just count your money” was the answer.
It was not my answer and that was the end of my door-to-door sales career.
Fast forward to my first real job after college. I started working for a large holding company that had recently purchased the smaller national firm that hired me. This was my first taste of the corporate world, and I learned a valuable lesson there. Make sure your boss likes you, and he did! But, after 18 months on the job he was told to economize. Last hired (me) was first to be fired. It had nothing to do with me personally, it was just numbers. But then, he found me another job in a different city and this was a promotion. I went from being fired to promoted the same day.
Valuable lesson #2. When you work for someone else, being good at your job is only part of the equation for success. If you really want to be in charge, then you must be in charge of everything, and that means learning about all those things that allow you to sell and work effectively!
Valuable lesson #3. Keep your overhead as low as possible. Spend money only on those items which will either give you more time or can add to your bottom line.
One way of being in charge is to work on commission. Now, before you start picturing the guys down at the local used car lot, remember that nothing in the world of business happens before something is sold. From the paperboy delivering the subscription you bought to your physician selling his or her expertise.
Deciding that this was for me, I joined a stock brokerage firm that sent me to their training school for 3 months of learning about stocks, bonds and assorted other security transactions. Boy, was this different that selling encyclopedias! It wasn’t OK just to sell something, it had to be appropriate for the client’s objective, age and financial condition. This is a valuable lesson that has stayed with me throughout my business career.
For me, being an entrepreneur is not just working for myself, but working in an ethical manner. From past experience, I know there is the “rush” in getting that sale, but all of my lessons from earlier put me on the ethical straight and narrow.
Since I started my own life insurance business some 25 years ago, I have prospered because of how I treat the prospects and clients that have come to me. When you start your own business, think about what you would want from someone selling whatever product or service you offer, especially if you have lots of competition.
Now think about how to set yourself apart from that competition. My advice. Find yourself a small niche in a great big market. You will find that the smaller the niche, the more likely you are to succeed. It seems almost counter-intuitive, but think about it this way. If you want to solve a problem, would you rather speak with a specialist with extensive experience particular to your need, or someone who knows a little about everything.
With the advent of the internet, the entrepreneur spirit has grown dramatically because of the ease in which people can set up their own businesses while working their “day job”. There are countless courses about building websites and ecommerce that are tailor made for the newly minted entrepreneur.
It’s very empowering to think of an idea that could possibly make money, then research it thoroughly to learn about your potential customer. Put yourself in your possible new client’s position. Whatever your selling, they will buy if it eliminates some “pain point”.
If you can alleviate your prospects’ pain points with a workable solution, you’re on your way.Business & Finance Articles on Business 2 Community