As this year comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the last 16 years in my own business. A lot has changed, yes, but many things have remained the same too. On January 9, 2011 my business will be 16 years old.
While anniversaries and birthdays are celebrated differently all over the world, a common thread is that they are often marked with a celebration or a rite of passage. So, to mark our 16th year in business, we would like to share with you 16 key lessons we have learnt since the business began. While there are many more than 16 lessons learnt, we thought it fitting to have one for each year.
Lessons learnt over 16 years:
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1. Values: Define your values and what you stand for; what is acceptable and what is not in your business and for you. Make your values a part of your daily work habits, your charter and your selection process when hiring people. It helps you to know when to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to trivial or important matters.
2. Leadership and Humility: Central to management and leadership are trust, respect and openness; listen and learn from your staff, clients, mentors and guides and adjust yourself on your journey to become a proficient, effective leader; build a bridge and get over yourself – don’t let your ego get in the way; follow through; don’t assume anything; be available and responsive; it is important to remember that helping others helps you.
3. Strategic Planning: Is your vision viable? Can it make money and be self-sustaining? Once you have decided to move forward, build a plan. From top to bottom and back up again – strategic to tactical. Review it on an ongoing basis not just once a year; involve all staff in its development; make it actionable, accessible and relevant to every role in the business.
4. Pick Your Counsel Wisely: Find those people who understand you quickly and easily, who can paraphrase and verify what you have just said. They should bring in different perspectives and help you see links and gaps you may be unaware of. Don’t take them at face value – check that their ideas are valuable and valid – put their comments through the ‘fact versus effect’ filter to see if they are being genuine or not. And don’t pick too many at once because listening to too many people only creates confusion and indecision.
5. Managing Setbacks: Always confront and resolve issues straight away, as they only get worse when ignored. Never see yourself as a ‘failure’, and always try to learn from your mistakes. You can never fail and succeed as a whole person: you can only fail or succeed at the things you do. Don’t be afraid to take risks – instead take calculated risks, so if your new idea or initiative backfires you haven’t lost everything in the process.
6. Teachable and Transferable: Build your products or services so they can be easily taught and transferred to your team, and in turn, they can easily sell and deliver them to your clients directly or via channels. And make sure it is always in language your clients can understand.
7. Trust: Even when things are not going the way you want them to you need to trust your vision and have faith in yourself and others that you will come through. Remember, people buy from people they trust. Trust supersedes like.
8. Passion: Without passion you just won’t have enough energy or desire to make business success happen. Staying focused is crucial. Think as big as you like then set clear goals and ‘see’ yourself achieving them.
9. Self Mastery Rather Than Success: If we focus on enjoying rather than proving ourselves we value mastery rather than success, effort rather than outcome, and the relationship rather than approval. Our journey to self mastery is ongoing on every level.
10. Your Health and Time to Reflect: It’s worth it. Look after yourself and make sure you take care of the whole person – exercise, diet, rest, get variety, take holidays, etc. Because if you don’t then you are no use to anyone especially yourself. Take at least five minutes each day to sit quietly and reflect.
11. The Principle of Exchange: We all exist because we are exchanging something of value. Knowing how to communicate that value so others may appreciate and understand what you bring is critical. Be clear about the value you bring to any relationship whether it is business or personal, otherwise you may create confusion about its true value.
12. Worthiness: We are all worthy, whatever our station in life. Our worth is not measured by what we do. We are worthy just because we exist.
13. Creativity and Innovation: Create something new, think outside the box, challenge prevailing views and attitudes, and don’t let yourself be bullied. Read outside your area of expertise to see how others learn, lead, make decisions, function and work – look at how it may apply to you and your business. Learn to be flexible and open-minded. Trial new initiatives and see if they fit your business.
14. Application Rather Than Theories: Don’t get hooked on only one way of doing things as most theories don’t hold true in real life. You need to be able to use a mixture of ideas, theories, processes and models. Always have a full ‘kit bag’ of ideas, processes, resources, etc that you can draw upon, and learn how to use them when you need them in life; take bits and pieces and apply them; trust your commonsense; be prepared to make mistakes and learn from them.
15. Get a Reputation: If you don’t have a reputation, align yourself with someone who does. Or put your business up for reputable awards, ie. small business awards, etc. It’s worth it just for the audit process itself. And, who knows, you might even become a finalist and maybe even win. There’s nothing like an award to elevate your reputation.
16. Courage: Check ‘what am I here to do?’ and have courage in the face of adversity – stand up for what you believe in. Remember, courage doesn’t always roar sometimes it’s a little voice inside your head that says I’ll try again tomorrow.
To all our readers, supporters and business colleagues, thank you for your patronage. The team at Barrett wish you all the very best for 2011 and look forward to sharing many more insights, research, findings and tips on how to lead an honourable, healthy and prosperous career in sales.
Remember, everybody lives by selling something.
Sue Barrett practices as a coach, advisor, speaker, facilitator, consultant and writer and works across all market segments with her skilful team at BARRETT. Sue and her team take the guess work out of selling and help people from many different careers become aware of their sales capabilities and enable them to take the steps to becoming effective and productive when it comes to selling, sales coaching or sales leadership.To hone your sales skills or learn how to sell go to www.barrett.com.au.