Wednesday, June 2, 2010; 12:00 AM
Success came to me when I consciously decided where my path should begin and where I wanted it to end. If you're still trying to convince yourself of your own worth, how can you possibly persuade clients that you have expertise and abilities? If you seem uncertain and insecure in your talents, your competition will start looking good to your client.
If, on the other hand, you are secure in your own abilities, the competition will become irrelevant, and your client will respond to your confidence. Keep in mind that businesses are constantly being solicited to transfer their accounts to a new vendor. When you are sure you're meant to be a survivor, you'll be able to hold on to your position in your industry and make your business count. Psychologically, if you are prepared to meet the competition head on, the following advice--along with your own abilities--will empower you to become a leader in your business.
A great many people embark on a self-employment journey only to be disillusioned by the amount of time and energy it takes to make the effort a success. Power comes from knowledge. Use your resources, and learn as much as you can. Think carefully about your organizational skills, as they will serve you well. If you don't possess these skills, get a partner who does, and you'll increase your chances of survival. If a partnership doesn't appeal to you, then get a jack/jacqueline-of-all-trades office manager who can keep track of orders, deliveries, billing, inventory, taxes and advertising. A weekly salary may be well worth the skills that individual brings to your business.
In my experience, attempts at self-employment usually fail for any of three reasons:
Procrastination: "I didn't realize my own business would be this hard to set up. I don't have the time."Overwhelming goals: "I looked at this option, and there's just too much to do to make it work" or "What do you mean I have to have a business plan? I don't have an MBA."Underfunding: "I have a few dollars and I'm going to see how far I can go. I'm going to do only what I have to do to get this thing going. It can't be that expensive."
I was so fortunate to arrive in the gift basket business with some business background. But my survival depended on my knowing so much more. After all, if I tie a bad bow, I can redo it. If I make a bad business decision, my business and employees could go under.
With each phone call you make or take, with the attitude you convey at any given moment, with every order or service you provide, you as a business owner will either add to the longevity of your business or encourage the early demise of your dream.
Begin with the essentials. Begin your new business or enhance your already existing career with a list of things that need to be done to set up or expand. I suggest that any item on your list that will make you money (i.e., a marketing idea) or save you money (bulk mailing) should be addressed first. It will give you the additional financial wherewithal to pursue other items on your list that require more funding.
Any list is a good list if it provides direction. Enumerate the basics in chronological order so you can accomplish one or several tasks every day until you've reached a level of fulfillment. When you've completed list No. 1, make your next list. Try not to overwhelm yourself; just compile the information--and then go into attack mode.
I always remind my franchisees that success doesn't show up at your front door; you have to look for it and run after your dream with every ounce of determination and energy you possess. But remember to take the journey one step at a time. Look at each element carefully and recognize that it's manageable. Don't allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the immensity of this new endeavor.
There is a plethora of information available to would-be entrepreneurs. Do your research. And if you can't come to terms with certain necessary tasks, hire professionals to take on those challenges.
I have a distaste for numbers but a penchant for people, so I decided early on that I wouldn't attempt to pursue anything related to math. I decided to find an accountant I trusted who understood my business. Choose a competent professional you like, then allow him or her to do the job you're paying for. If you run into a glitch, don't let it sway you from self-employment. Outsource to a professional; it will enhance your business, and you'll be able to focus on tasks that you do well.
Do you love making baskets but despise selling? Hire a commissioned sales professional. Have that person do the deals while you make the baskets. Have a tough time interviewing prospective employees? Hire a temporary or full-time staffing agency and let the professionals do the interviewing. Have them narrow the choice to five people, and you can make the final decision.
So many responsibilities accompany business management and ownership. Although the occasional disagreeable job will filter back to you, set up your business so that you can enjoy the bulk of your duties.
How many professionals do you need? Use and pay only for the essential help you require. Good help and professional guidance are not inexpensive. The more you personally contribute, the more your business will flourish. So try to retain as much responsibility as you can. Maintaining control will always be to your advantage.
Remember that you can accomplish everything on your own timeline. Do what you can, but do it well. Do your research, but don't let the details deter you from your mission. Finally, don't listen to anyone else unless you're relying on a trusted professional. You're the one person who can make your dreams a reality.
Cynthia McKay, CEO of The McKay Group LLC, is a business growth consultant, attorney and psychotherapist. She has been featured on major television showsand serves as a participant on USA Today's CEP panel and has been featured in Time magazine, The Wall Street Journal, McCall's and other major publications.