Over the last few months I have been doing many beta tests. Not only on my online business but the company that I keep through my business which is outrageously important for your personal growth. Not surprisingly, I have found that almost ALL of the people that I know/knew who have their own businesses are either not as advanced as I am in business. Most of them are struggling and out of about 50 there may be one or two who are at the same juncture as I am right now. That doesn’t mean I will always be on top, I have learned that lesson the hard way but in order to STAY on top you MUST surround yourself with the RIGHT PEOPLE.
The greatest complaint that I hear from those who are on a similar level is “I am so f’king tired of people calling me to pick my brain for free. Who do I go to when I need help?” I can completely relate because I have often felt the same way. It’s not the people who are calling for help who are at fault, it is us, we feel a bit of guilt and/or obligation for our success as if we don’t deserve it and we DO.
People will test out your business esteem all the time and you better pass the test for your OWN benefit. My mother says To whom much is given much is expected and I believe and accept that. Each week, I get at least 20 calls and emails that say “Call me” with a number attached. It’s not a request, it’s an order like I OWE them a call. In addition, I don’t even KNOW these people and 99.99% of the calls are pure bullshit. They often want a shoulder to complain or cry on about their problems or mostly to dangle carrots telling me if I help them get to someone or something in the industry that they can’t get to, they will help me down the road. I NEVER get calls saying “Do you need help?” “How can I help you?” or “Is there a way that we can work together?” it’s always something for me to do for them.
I am not stupid nor am I motivated by that but there is an amazing silver lining in this cloud. The fact that they are reaching out to you means you are doing something VERY right and you are effective. They can see the potential and the success in what you do and people want to align themselves with that, nevertheless, in small business, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush and we need to know how to treat these people and situations so that they don’t interrupt the flow of our success.
When I wanted to consult with other business owners about my dilemmas there was often nobody that I could call or reach out to. I finally came to the conclusion that in order to grow in business it is PARAMOUNT that we have resources of other black entrepreneurs who are MORE successful than we are I will also say this can be damaging because you can get some really BAD advice too. If you are creative, like I am, it’s best to go with your gut, win or lose because as I love to say, You won’t grow if you don’t know and the only way you can KNOW is to take chances.
If you need mentors who are more successful than you are at LEAST take these people out to lunch and pick THEIR brains about certain issues, but LET THEM KNOW what you want up front and I respect their time by treating them to lunch or dinner. Nobody wants to be used or treated like they owe you. Most of the people that contact me do just that, they want information… FREE information… NOW and many don’t even ask “How are you?” I can understand where they are coming from, they have nothing to offer BUT a promise.. but at least be HONEST about it! When you have money it’s not the time to spend it’s the time to INVEST for those hard days ahead. This is another subject perhaps that I will write next.
Many of us, including me in the past, think we can relax and breathe when there is an upsurge in income. HELL NO. That’s when you are supposed to go to work!. I have resolved this problem by simply asking when I get these emails that demand “Call me”…. “How can I help you” and I don’t call them. If they continue to play games and say something like “I want to advertise” which I used to fall for, I send them a rate sheet and my PayPal info and tell them to send me the elements after they pay. I usually never hear from them again and it’s not because I’m being rude, I’m not, it’s because they have been busted.
black entrepreneurs must understand what the self-esteem of our business is and how certain people can affect what we do. We should be spending our extra time LEARNING and GROWING instead of being stressed out and giving away our services for nothing in return. We are successful because we have EARNED it, we have a great brand and we have found a hole and filled it. That does not mean we now OWE other people BECAUSE of our success. It greatly helps nonetheless to make sure you give back by doing volunteer work of some kind I have seen the amazing benefits of this first hand. Volunteer work is not paying someone’s rent.
Broaden Your Horizons.
Are you in the same place that you were in 3 years ago with your business? Are you making the same money? Are you doing the same things? Are you still dealing with the same people for external resources? Then you are NOT growing and neither will your business. Go where the people you want to be around most ARE. Do what you have been thinking about doing WHILE you can do it so that you can GROW> Don’t wait 10 years when you may not be in the position that you are in now and say I WISH I would have done it. Join a local organization for black entrepreneurs like the Small business Administration in your area. Check with the local Chamber of Commerce to see if they have luncheons or meetings for black entrepreneurs and/or black entrepreneurs. Join local political mailing lists and check your email for events in your area and GO! You would be AMAZED at the contacts you can make at these mixers and events. Read the small business newspapers or websites in your area and reach out to some of the people who are being interviewed or who write the stories.
Be Direct, Even if It’s Perceived as RUDE
If someone tries to pull rank on you because they were on top of their game 20 years ago and they think they are entitled, check them with respect. Simply say when you get the demanding email that says “Call me” that “I’m too busy and that it’s best to reach me via email. How can I help you?” Unless it’s a PREVIOUSLY paying client, you don’t owe anyone anything. I say that because we must realize that we provide a service so therefore we get paid for that service it’s a fair exchange BECAUSE IT’S business. The people that believe in you and respect you most by supporting your business get to the front of the line for your attention. Ironically, have you noticed the biggest clients usually request the LEAST from you? It’s the people who don’t give you a dime who treat you like you owe them something.
Beware of those Contacts who Exude Greed
This blog is so incredibly therapeutic for me because simply writing about my experiences helps me to see things I could not see before. Beware of those who always come at you as if YOU need THEM. After all they are coming to YOU aren’t they? I have three words that are of utmost importance in the success of your small business especially if you want to grow into a big business one day or even sell KNOW YOUR VALUE! And NEVER question it or allow anyone else to do it. How do you know your value? The BEST way to determine it… do your clients automatically keep coming back! I could end this section RIGHT THERE. In ANY business from a dry cleaner to a corporate sales executive to a street walking prostitute… people come back to the place they see the MOST value. Then there are those who want everything for free but the point is, THEY ARE COMING TO YOU… so don’t be afraid to say no and keep it moving. Truth be told, people who come to you and want you to provide services for free usually don’t have any money or they have a welfare mentality. ‘Why should I pay for something when I can get it for free, even if that means putting someone down to get it!’ My GREATEST advice on this issue… NEVER TELL ANYONE WHAT YOUR PLANS ARE EXCEPT those who can help you get there DIRECTLY. Beware of people who you discuss your ideas with who always turn it into an opportunity for themselves. You didn’t invite them to take part but they are going to take part anyway. These people HURT your goals and the less they know the better off you are. You will often get discouraged by talking to them, once again BROADEN YOUR HORIZONS make sure you surround yourself with WINNERS if you want to be a Winner. Nobody can do what you can do and you don’t know what you can do UNTIL YOU DO IT!
Use what you have to get what you want
Your biggest clients believe in you most. Treat them the way you want to be treated. NEVER waste their time and don’t be intimidated by them. They support you because they either believe in what you do or they like you or both. These are the people that can help you expand your business. Understand things will not always be the way they are right now, so you better take advantage of potential growth NOW while you have the clients supporting you. Don’t wait until you have nothing. Strike while the iron is hot and use what you have to get what you want. If you have a bigger idea, these are the people that you should approach first but make sure you have everything written out and expressed first.
Re-evaluate your FaceBook page and Linked In Accounts
I am really starting to think the only value FaceBook has is to promote and market things like this site. I am just not interested in a majority of the postings on that site and I am unfriending people as you read this because for black entrepreneurs who work for themselves, social networking should certainly involve face to face meetings. How many of your FB friends do what you do? How many of these people are forging ahead? How many of these people do you actually learn something from? How many of these people are beneficial to your growth? I’m just learning how to use linked-in but will never know if you don’t grow. )
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE MOVING NOT THOSE WHO ARE STANDING STILL WITH THEIR HANDS OUT!
Would you rather be in the Race or on the Sidelines? Some of the BEST advice I EVER got was from a former boss Dr. Daddio in Denver, Colorado. He was a legendary DJ who owned his own station. He told me “Always look at life as a race. Make sure you are in that race and not on the sidelines. Never look at the person next to you because you lose time, Only look at the finish line.” I have to add to that Notice that there are those who run in the race and those who cheer them on in the sidelines. Which one would rather be? The runners (black entrepreneurs) all have one thing in common so do the people on the sidelines, which position are you in? Are you a runner or a person who cheers on the runners? It’s most likely that runners have the most in common because they have a goal which is to win and they are MOVING and not standing still. Those on the sidelines have a goal too… To watch others achieve success… Which one are you?
Best in business
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