Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Cold, Hard, Truth About Self Employment - And Some Crucial Advice

So you're considering becoming an entrepreneur?
Do you really know what you're letting yourself in for? 
Take some time to consider these cold, hard truths before you take the leap!

There are 3 main reasons why someone becomes an entrepreneur:
1 - They fall into it.  They're an 'accidental entrepreneur' through redundancy, lack of opportunity, remote location, etc.
2 - They are making a 'lifestyle choice.'  They want to work more flexible hours and call the shots - work on the beach, spend time with their kids, etc.
3 - They have the heart of a pioneer and can't feel truly content unless they are forging their own path. They have a strong need for autonomy and are never happier when the buck stops with them. These guys are often tough to manage in a corporate setting but they make great entrepreneurs!
But whatever has lead you to this point of decision there are a couple of truths about being an entrepreneur that you should be aware of before you step over the fence towards what looks like greener grass:

1. It's lonely

You're the boss. You make the decisions. It's all on you. Your spouse or partner will never really understand what you're going through (unless they are an entrepreneur themselves), and even with the great forums and networking groups out there, at the end of the day running your own business can feel like a pretty solitary journey.

2. You'll always be on a raw and painful learning curve

There are very few experiences in life that can make you feel as incompetent, scared, and under pressure as running your own business (parenthood matches it, but little else!) You are constantly having to course correct - making decisions every day that may turn out be wrong later down the line. And if you are ambitious this feeling of flying half blind is constantly present as you continue to push the boundaries.

3. You'll have to do things you don't like

One of the things that makes me laugh is when people say they want to start their own business "because they are sick of office politics". Well they're in for a shock! Believe me there's just as much politics in the self employed world as there is in any corporation. For example, if you're like me and decide to sell your services as an online expert, you'll soon find that there are industry giants out there with more experience, better websites, bigger lists, and far more clout than you can dream of. And, they all know each other. They endorse each others products and work as affiliates, generating more leads and more money for each other. It's a reciprocal relationship and if you ever want to make it big you're going to have to step into that arena at some point. Even if you're plans don't include this level of exposure or income, you will come across politics in almost every area of business from manufacturing of goods to offering services. There's competition. There's sales. There's politics.

My Advice:

HAVE A PLAN!! Please, please don't start a business with the "I'll just start it and see how it goes" mentality! Organic growth is messy, expensive and highly risky. Decide what you are playing for and plan for it right from the beginning. If you want to work a 4 hour week then you can't have a service business that requires you to be constantly engaged with customers. If you want to be earning $300,000 in 10 years then set up your business model NOW to allow you to deliver this kind of income further down the line.

I wish you all the luck in the world with whatever path you choose. And if you decide to take the leap into the crazy world of entrepreneurship then I'll see you on the other side!

Vicki Childs is a qualified coach and the founder of FISSION Coaching, where coaches go to release their ultimate potential. Vicki's mission is to help coaches build the tools and business processes needed to create an automatic flow of clients and income, allowing them to focus on their true power and talent - creating fundamental shifts in the lives of their clients. For more information visit http://fissioncoaching.com and be one of the first to receive my latest ebook '3 Fundamental Shifts In Thinking You MUST Make Before You Can Release The Ultimate Potential Of Your Coaching Business'

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How To Create Loyal Customers

Direct marketing is a unique way for people to be in business for themselves but not by themselves. I spent a few years in direct sales and worked my way up to a leadership position with a growing team. I got started with the help of an AMAZING person – the FABULOUS Bev Burr. She is a ball of sunshine that encouraged me to work my business in a way that made me want to be successful because I knew she believed I could be. How did she do it? How does Bev continue to be successful in direct sales? I recently caught up with her to find out her secrets.

Q 1. What are the key concepts that drive product sales for you?

There are 3 Key Concepts I use to drive product sales:

1. Listen to the needs of the customer. If you don’t know what they like or want you can’t make a sale. Always ask open-ended questions, such as: what occasion would you see yourself wearing this?

2. Develop relationships. People are more important than the sales. If people know you like them, then they will feel comfortable to buy what you are selling.

3. Sell the benefits of the product. Let people know what the product can do for them and why they need it in their lives.

Q 2. What are the top objections you deal with in product sales?

The top objection is always cost. That objection is easily overcome when I show them the value of the products and the Host program. Every direct marketing company offers a host program where customers can get any product they want for FREE by having a few people over and having some fun. Actually, being a hostess was what got me started in direct marketing.

Q 3. How do you overcome objections and move forward?

Objections are just opportunities for a conversation. People are usually fearful of the unknown. If I can assure them of a positive outcome, they usually relax and become the customers I need and want. Putting the customer first, their wants and needs – and taking my wants and needs out of the picture, actually gets me what I want in the long run.

I never worry about the sales. I worry about making people feel comfortable, happy and valued. If I follow that plan, then what I want and need falls into place.

Q 4. What attitude or outlook on your life and business has lead to your success?

I believe you need to come from a place of abundance. Give without expecting anything in return. Give for the joy of the gift.

I also have a positive attitude – turning lemons into lemonade. No one wants to do business with anyone who is negative, grumpy, or has a an attitude of “its all about me”.

Q 5. What keeps your customers coming back? Why are they loyal to you?

I believe my customers keep coming back to me because I take the time to get to know them. I ask questions about their family and let them know they are important to me by sending cards for important occasions. My customers are valued because they are not just about the sales to me – THEY are people and their lives come first. I have discovered that sales is all about developing the relationship first, and then you can sell anything when that trust is confirmed.

Bev Burr has been involved with the Direct Marketing Industry for the past 20 years – full time for the past 10. With her positive attitude and friendly demeanour, Bev has been able to develop a successful home business – not only with top sales achievements, but by also empowering and mentoring women to create their own successful business. Bev’s website can be enjoyed at www.liasophia.ca/bevburr.