Thursday, May 14, 2009

Learning What You Need to Succeed Part 2

When you run your own small business, and it’s a one man show, things can get VERY lonely. Everything hinges on you alone. The pressure from that can be extremely stressful and enthusiasm can die quickly. Have you ever asked yourself, “if I just ‘closed shop’ today, would anyone even notice or care?”

I started to feel this way toward the middle of this project, and knew something needed to change – which brings us to #2:

Obtain the right kind of support.

If you can gain this support on both a personal and professional level, you will most likely gain the motivation you have been lacking.

On a personal level, be sure to have two or three close friends or family members who have an interest in seeing you succeed. These people will typically know your strengths and weaknesses and can help you stay level-headed when times get tough. Allow them the opportunity to be honest with you, thanking them for their opinions when they are finished. If you shut down their ideas, or are quick to disagree with them, you are doing much harm to one of your greatest sources of feedback.

My wife, The Fabulous One, picked me up plenty of times during this process. When vendor applications were slow to come in, she was able to offer a new perspective on how to streamline the application process, which encouraged more vendors to sign up.

If you don’t currently have these kinds of people in your life, think about who you would like to have that role. Invest in those relationships and show a genuine interest in them and what they are pursuing. If that friendship builds, they will probably return the favor.

In addition to the personal support, you will definitely need professional support to keep your doors open. Are you networking? Do you have other businesses vouching for the services or products you offer? I’m not talking about trading links on a website here. Find a way to add value to other businesses you work with, and they may just do the same for you. If you are a wedding planner, do you simply pass on the name of a specific vendor to your brides, or are you passionately selling that bride on all of the great reasons she should hire them. The latter is definitely the way to go if you are going to build true partnerships with the other vendors in your industry.

If you are looking to start a new business, and don’t have these relationships in place, pause. Take the time to work on this. Work for someone else in the industry for a while, and not necessarily in the specific field you are pursuing. A lot of wisdom and perspective can be gained by being able to see things through the eyes of others. You don’t want to jump in prematurely.

A couple years ago I was looking into starting a business that rented out chiavari ballroom chairs. At the time, I had very few relationships built up with local wedding vendors and venues. I could have started the business and tried to work it from the ground up, but knew that it is a better investment to work on those relationships. If you do this, your start-up will be much smoother and word will spread about you much faster.

So remember, it will be very difficult to survive on your own. Reach out, build up your relationships, and experience the benefits of learning from others.

No comments: