Published January 2002
The 12 Steps (Advice) to Entrepreneurial Success: If You Want Success Ask for it. And Keep Asking.
"Mistakes are easy, mistakes are inevitable, but there is no mistake so great as the mistake of giving up." - William BlakeFor some people success is simple, they just ask for it. And they keep on asking. To get what you want out of life, do as so many successful folk do, ask for it, and follow up to be sure it happens for you.
As an entrepreneur, you must ask much of others, and you cannot be squeamish about it. If your business is to be a reality, you must ask others to have faith in you. You must ask others to trust you. You must ask others to lend you money. You must ask people to invest with you. You must ask potential customers to buy from you. You must ask your customers to pay you. As a business owner, you will spend much of your time asking others to do things for you.
As you will discover, asking your customers to pay their bills is routine. If you dislike asking for your money-you must rise to the challenge. It is not difficult to do, after asking a few customers, a few times, and getting checks in the mail; you may come to enjoy the task. Customers who are slow in paying their bills, expect to be asked. And it is those who ask, that get paid. Do not assume customers will automatically send you what they owe you; they too, may have cash flow problems. Asking for what is owed to you is not begging.
A customer may have an obligation to pay you, but they do not have an obligation to buy from you. Expect to hear "no" frequently. There are many ways of asking customers to buy from you-selling is challenging, and necessary if you are to have a successful business. However, with a little training, most anyone can master the basics. Any "no" you get is not about you as a person, it is about the product or service you are offering. Don't be put off by a no- keep asking! Remember, "People want to do business with people who want to do business." If you have trouble asking for the business, how serious are you? If you cannot bring yourself to do so, then go into the mail order business, or open a parking lot.
But you can learn to ask. Anyone can. Put aside those childhood hang-ups that it is not polite to ask. Forget about feeling hurt or rejected if you are told no. Focus on the positive image of your successful business. Hold that image as a goal above any obstacle or resistance, and believe that your determination will succeed. After all, if you do not ask you will never know.
In your business, following up is critical to your success. If you fail to follow through on your promises or objectives, you are sending a message of laziness or aloofness- not helpful to growing your business.
Do you dislike pressing for an answer or a decision for fear you may be intruding or perceived as, "pushy?" Remember the trite sayings "out of sight out of mind" or the "squeaky wheel gets the grease," well, they are true. Do you always do everything the first time you are asked?
When we follow up, we are showing that we know what we want. Our request, what ever it may be, is not a whim. Following up makes a statement about ourselves, it says we are persistent, it says we are goal oriented, and it says we are willing to make the effort to get what we want. Following up speaks well of us.
When I was Vice President of Marketing of International Tape Cartridge Corporation, one of my responsibilities was to organize and develop a national sales force. In doing so, I followed my personal rule, that if anyone I interviewed did not follow up with me at least one time, I would not hire him or her. Why? No initiative. If a salesperson cannot follow up to see if they are a candidate for a job, will he or she follow up to make a sale or get a new customer? My system worked for me, as few of those I hired-failed.
As you build your business, use follow up to your advantage. Realize as you read this that following up is a problem for many people. If there is someone or something you want, follow up, as your competitor, or rival, may not. Use your initiative to gain the advantage.
When I entered the academic world, one of my early responsibilities was to recruit and hire faculty. In doing so, I was influenced to hire one particular professor, who was equally qualified along with a few other applicants, because he pestered me for almost two months checking on the status of his application. I viewed his persistence as an indication of his motivation to teach at our college. I was right. Twenty-five years later, he is a highly respected full professor. He never lost his motivation and dedication to teaching. He followed up!
Step 1. Understanding Yourself
Step 2. Getting Things Done
Step 3. Apply Yourself- Don't Be Lazy
Step 4. The Importance of Getting Organized
Step 5. Keep Your Emotions in Check
Step 6. Learn to Say No
Step 7. Practice the "Golden Rule" in all of Your Affairs.
Step 8. Avoid the Perils of Expansion
Step 9. If You Want Success Ask for it. And Keep Asking.
Step 10. Manage Your Money- Your Most Important Asset.
Step 11. Recognize The Risk
Step 12. A Sure Way to Fail: Quit too Soon!
The Twelve Affirmations to Success
Categories: starting a business, management