The Success of No

It’s not easy to hear “no” from people when you’re trying to be successful in your own business. I know that it feels bad to hear people say “no” to you, after all, you sell something amazing and the whole world could benefit from what you sell. However, the latest estimate is that there are over 7 billion people. I can’t imagine how stressed out I would be if I were trying to serve 7 billion individual clients within my lifetime. But as I shared about on Monday and I’ve shared about in the past, we should say “no” to things because not everything is for us personally, not to mention the really big reasons that people don’t buy stuff like language, sex and location (I can’t use a menu written in Japanese (I speak English), book on prostate health (I’m a woman), or map of Sydney, Australia (I have no plans to visit Australia)).

So honestly, hearing people say “no” is one of the biggest gifts for us. Why? Because it allows us to focus on those we can actually help and are ready for what we’re selling. The better care we can give to our customers, the more likely they’ll find great value in what we offer and more likely they’ll recommend us to someone who will be an equally good match for us.

The other thing to remember is that someone’s initial no may be just because they don’t know, like and trust you yet. In today’s very crowded market place it takes longer to convert someone who is kind of interested to a client simply because of the huge number of marketing messages they receive each day. Rather than freaking out because your efforts aren’t immediately successful know that and plan for your success to be achieved over time. Don’t give up because you’re not a viral sensation and on every news site every day. Very few people are able to do that, and most are there for reasons that we would rather not be known for anyway.

So the next time someone says “no” to you thank them for being honest rather than becoming a miserable pain in your butt and let them know that you’d love to keep in touch with them in case they change their mind in the future. Don’t go for the touchdown on every play, just make forward progress.

Finding Your Happiness

This month we’ve talked about an important topic: choosing to live. Each of us are given a number of days to live here on earth. Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, your time in this form is limited. Each day, even each minute, we make choices about what we want to do with the time we do have. I don’t believe that every minute needs to be filled to absolute capacity, we need some time to rest and enjoy, but I do believe that most of us aren’t living our lives to even close to our potential.

Our potential is something that can only be discovered and truly fulfilled if we know and accept who we are. I can certainly do all kinds of awesome things like African safaris, cruise the world or read science fiction books, but those things wouldn’t make me truly happy or fulfilled. It’s not that they’re not fun or amazing experiences, or good books, they’re just not what motivates me to get up in the morning and makes me want to share with the world.

What makes my heart beat isn’t what makes yours beat, and that’s the way it should be. We’re each different and that’s what makes the world great. It’s also what makes the world run as well as it does. While it’s not perfect if I were trying to do everything all by myself we’d have a much less amazing and functional world. My “job” in life isn’t to do or be perfect in everything, it’s to be the best and do the best with what I can do and do love. What are you passionate about? What makes your life great?

“To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.” Kofi Annan

Love and Commitment

As I mentioned on Monday the past few weeks have been a study in priorities. I’ve made many conscious decisions over the past few years to really put my partner, and to some extent friends and family, at the top of my priority list. I don’t schedule client meetings during our very consistent date night, I move my schedule around to work with his much more regular one, and generally do everything I can to give us the most time possible together. Why? Because our relationship is important to me.

Last week however I made a mistake and as a result I missed out on some quality time we were planning on spending together, time we don’t usually get. It forced me to really take a good look at how I was really scheduling my life and if I really was prioritizing us, which includes me, or not. I wasn’t happy with my conclusions so I’ve made some changes, am going to bed a little earlier, am working on being more focused and consistent with doing my work during the time I do have and trying to be even more responsible; we’ve all got at least a little room for improvement, right?

What this really reminded me of was that relationships take work from all parties involved for them to be not only successful but happy as well. Love is great, we’ve got lots of that and make a point of applying love rather than judgment or tempers to our situations. We wouldn’t keep working on our relationship if we didn’t really love each other and weren’t interested in seeing what the future holds for us. But love won’t put me in the car for our date night, only my commitment to our alone time can do that.

What about you? Do you and your partner need a wake-up call? Or are you fully aware of what your priorities are and aren’t?

“Love can start a marriage, but a commitment is what kept it together.” Lauren Dane

You’re Failing

Today around the world people are telling you that you’re failing. Yes, that’s the message of Earth Day really, that we’re failing the earth and need to get to work to turn things around. I have to agree that we’ve got some pretty destructive habits and vices, things that are making parts of our world uninhabitable for both man and animal. It’s important to hear that we fail sometimes. It gives us a reason to get out of our lazy or frozen state, get going and make changes, hopefully for the better.

Each day there are more studies showing that what we think we want isn’t really what we want. So by doing all the damage that we’re doing to the world to get what we think we want, we’re actually doing damage for no reason. If you really want to be successful in your life or business you need to figure out if what you really want is what you’re working really hard towards. If you’ve been dealing with a lack of energy or passion for your work, there’s a good chance that you’re not working towards something that is truly valuable to you.

We may not think that one soda can thrown in the garbage really makes a difference, but it’s one compounded by every human in the world throwing a can in the garbage that makes a difference. So while your one may not, when you put everyone’s one together, it shows. If you really want to be successful you’ll apply this principle to your life: one post, call, email or client may not make a big difference, but when they’re repeated and combined they do. You need to see the whole picture as well as what happens daily when you’re consistent to understand success.

Finally, learn to love. Your criticism of a client will drive them away faster than you can get new one, just like your love for the earth will make it last longer than your complete disregard. Love not only feels better, it’s a human emotion that binds us all together better than any other can. Even though we’ve got a sick fascination with the bad stuff, we really want to share the good stuff and be part of the good stuff.

The lesson of Earth Day is really that the simplest things can make the biggest difference, both for the earth and your business. What simple things are you failing?

Facing Challenges Confidently

This past week I’ve been coming to a new understanding of attitude, priorities and commitments. It’s something I think we all work on throughout our lives, something that will continually challenge us and force us to grow. If you’ve been on this blog for a while you know that I’m a big believer in attitude making a difference for anyone and everyone. If you’ve got a bad attitude I believe life will turn out pretty bad for you. But if you’ve got a good attitude your opportunities are almost endless.

I believe that attitude can give you that necessary edge in business dealings, in your job and in parenting and relationships. Your attitude can give you the courage to make that first step and reach out to that client or family member, give you the patience to find possible answers to challenges in your life and job, and give you the confidence to believe in yourself as a person of value. I believe that we all have a contribution to make to the world, and while you can be forced to make a contribution, no one can make the true contribution that you can when you’re passionate about doing your thing for the world.

It really comes down to two questions: what do you want to do with your life and what do you want to be remembered for after your death? You may not feel the pressure to grow that I did this past week, but that doesn’t mean you can’t choose today to live every day to the fullest because you never know when it will be your last.

“I’ve always had confidence. It came because I have lots of initiative. I wanted to make something of myself.”
Eddie Murphy

It’s OK to Be Yourself

As a parent you’ve got lots of responsibilities and probably feel a serious pressure for helping your kids grow up to be people you’re proud of. It is important to do the best job you can in parenting them. You don’t want to be labeled as the parent of a serial killer or lazy bum. You want to be proud of them and what they’ve done with their lives and who they’ve become, and you recognize that you play an important role in that happening.

It’s important though to remember that they have to be their own person, they will become their own person, and you’re more responsible for shaping than forcing them to be something or someone. They ultimately will make their own decisions and go their own way. You can only be confident in who you are as a person and parent and in what you taught them.

The biggest challenge is letting them have their own dreams in life. I was talking with a parent the other day who said her daughter wants to be a grocery clerk so she can tap her nails on the keyboard like they do. It doesn’t seem like the big-paycheck, big-office dream a parent would have for their child, but because it’s what her daughter wants, she’ll support her until she dreams a new dream.

The bottom line is that you can try to force your kids into a role, into a mold that you think they can fill, but more often than not that backfires. Instead, choose to support them and the successful path they’ve chosen for their lives. Don’t ruin their dream because it’s not your dream.

“I never wanted to be the next Bruce Lee. I just wanted to be the first Jackie Chan.” Jackie Chan

Proactive with Problems

This week I’ve talked with some unhappy people. People who should be happy, but like anyone else, things are stacking up against them and causing problem after problem. There’s the head accountant whose whole team doesn’t seem to know how to use a calculator some days. The kids’ play place with employees who don’t like kids. The restaurant not taking full advantage of its location and hiring people practically off the streets. Of course, those are all a little exaggerated, but the truth remains: you go just about anywhere or look at just about anything and you’ll find problems and things that are contributing to the lack of success in a business.

The truth is that in business there will always be something breaking, something going wrong, an issue of some kind, an employee you can’t stand or you’re just overwhelmed because it seems like everything is coming from you at all angles. Just about anyone can come in and pick apart the issues, from the employees to the appearance, to the marketing to what you sell. No one or company is perfect. However, there are a few things you can do to avoid some of these key issues.

First, hire and train well. Unless your potential hires and current employees are chosen wisely, understand your vision for the business and how you want customers treated, and are trained in selling your product/service, you’ll be wasting one of your greatest resources and potentially doing permanent damage to your business.

Second, make time each day and week for the important behind-the-scenes stuff. Don’t let the books get done only yearly, don’t avoid sending out invoices, don’t avoid knowing what your competition is doing, don’t procrastinate doing the marketing. While most of these aren’t seen by your customers, they affect how well you care for them.

Finally, don’t let the vision and mission of the business get run over or forgotten. A vision and/or mission not only helps potential customers differentiate between you and your competition, it also can help you be more memorable and get more sales. When your passion is shared with others and becomes their passion, you’re able to become much more than a business that sells stuff. You’re able to make an impact on the world.

What changes do you need to make in your business starting today to avoid or fix that which is hindering your success?

Blazing Your Own Path

In our world today we’ve got so many options it’s overwhelming. Just stop in the pasta or bread isle at the grocery store and you’ll see more options than you could eat in a month, maybe even a year. And when you go online to look for a plumber or to buy a computer the options can seem endless. Last week I was working with a client and she was telling me about the competition in her area and how many people choose them because they don’t know she exists even though she offers something different/better. So you’re not alone if you just choose the most obvious option, it can be easy to get distracted and not make a choice, or to just choose the most well known one, whether or not it’s the best option for you.

The path I’ve chosen as an entrepreneur, and personally too, means that more often than not I look for the road less well traveled because I recognize the value in those other solutions. Not everything is obvious or simple, but with the internet it’s a lot easier to find those hidden gems. No one said that you have to choose what everyone else is just because everyone else is, but it’s not always fun to do the extra work and put in the extra effort to go your own way.

However, I’ve learned time and again that it’s worth it to go my own way. Yes, mainstream things like Facebook and smart phones make things a lot easier than using carrier pigeons or snail mail, and it’s a lot easier to go to the grocery store than try to grow food from your apartment building. But that doesn’t mean that I have to share the stupid picture or buy junk food. I can still do my own thing in my own way.

I encourage you this week to find ways that you can let your individuality shine. Be confident in doing things your own way, in making things happen in the way that feels most comfortable for you and in achieving the results you really want.

‘Entrepreneur ‘just denotes that you recognize that you’re doing things across disciplines and that you’re blazing your own path.” Pharrell Williams

Choosing Not to Change

One of the biggest challenges in life is people.  We’re surrounded by them and their plans, dreams, desires and habits.  Some of us are better at dealing with idiosyncrasies and differences than others, but as long as we live in this modern world we don’t really have a choice: we all have to deal with people.  In a relationship or parenting situation it goes beyond that: you’re choosing to be with or stuck with those people.  No, you don’t have to stay in the relationship or stay connected with your parents/kids after 18 but until you choose or are able to leave you’re going to continue dealing with those people.

In our modern world there are very few of us who don’t have a say in the matter.  If you’re staying in a relationship or continuing to expose yourself to your family that would be your choice.  Some of the biggest issues come in when you tell someone they have to change or you try to change someone so that you’re OK staying connected with them.

Yes, we all have things we can/should/could change and improve, that’s not the issue here.  The issue is when you’re trying to change someone or encouraging them to change for your benefit rather than theirs.  With relationships you chose to participate in that relationship with that person because of who you know them to be.  While you can’t know everything about someone, my partner and I are still learning stuff about each other 5+ years later, there are things that interest you initially and reasons why you’re willing to enter into that relationship.

Yes, some things you learn about the people in your life will challenge and annoy you.  The challenging goal is 3 part: 1-accept that you will be annoyed by them, probably on a daily basis.  2-know that you don’t have to take any abuse or hatred, that’s not acceptable.  3-don’t lose sight of the things that attracted them to you in the first place and the things you still love about them and the things you’ve discovered you love about them.

Consider change this weekend: what really needs to change? Is it the other person, is it yourself, or are you both OK as you are and have to work more on loving and less on fighting?

“Don’t try to change anybody. And they should let you be yourself, ‘You loved me when you met me, so let’s keep going!'” Willie Nelson

Who Really Counts?

Today I want to address a really important topic: how successful you are vs. how successful you could be.  The secret lies in something we’ve talked about before, and yet I’m amazed by how many business owners and clients I talk with that don’t understand or refuse to accept just how important this secret is.  The secret, of course, is customers.

This week I was talking with a client after doing some work for them and was told that my work was inaccurate because they were a reseller, not someone who actually created what they sold.  They weren’t an Amazon or Walmart type business, they had a very specific niche and only sold a very specific type of products.  In their mind my marketing advice was only applicable to someone who actually made the products, not someone who was just reselling.  It brought up a couple points I want to highlight with you today.

First, reselling doesn’t change the product.  Just because Amazon sells tablets and computers, doesn’t make their items any different than those sold on the creating company’s website or in their store.  It’s the same exact item, just sold in a place that has access to lots more customers than most individual sellers do.

Second, who said that reselling was any less important than being the primary creator/seller?  We’ve already established that resellers are still selling the exact same product as the creators.  Just because you didn’t create something but you sell it doesn’t mean you can’t take pride in what you’re selling or believe that you have an important job of helping more people connect with what you sell.

Third, what really matters is the customer.  As a seller, whether the creator or a reseller, the only thing that matters is helping your customers.  While not all business owners operate to the standards that some do, I would never sell/resell or recommend anything or anyone I did not personally understand or have some experience with.  No, I may not be able to rebuild the car I drive, but I would recommend it based on the experience I’ve had with it.  I would not try to sell it or similar cars to someone else however since I don’t have the technical experience to talk shop and fully support the customer should they buy it.  If you can’t tell your potential customer about the benefits and drawbacks as well as answer their questions about it and support them in their use of the product, are you really offering a service to your customers?

Being in business only for the money is like being given a fish tank full of water without fish. It’s great, but without the fish it’s really lacking something.  Be involved in your business and what you sell, know it inside and out, and be able to support your customers fully.  You’ll get more positive reviews, recommendations and sales that way.

“I’m a fan of music, first and foremost. So I do things from the perspective of a fan.” Pharrell Williams