Lots of research has been done into entrepreneurialism. We know that the Type-A personality is often not willing to take risks and may end up working for others their entire life, and that more C students become entrepreneurs than do A students.
The one lesson I have found most important is that of overcoming fear. It took me years to overcome my fears about losing my customers, having to make payrolls on time, or paying my bills on time. It took me awhile to realize that these things are probably going to happen from time to time no matter what.
No one has a crystal ball to tell us what is going to happen in the future. All we can do is to keep on keeping on and work on honing another universal trait of entrepreneurs: persistence. even in the face of challenging times.
With retirement looming, I’ve been taking stock of my life as a businesswoman/media person. Although early on I met some pretty rough characters who displayed bad sales ethics, later I was lucky enough to find great mentors who taught me the right way.
Having been involved in some pretty tough negotiations through the years, I learned to strive for win/wins and make sure I over-delivered on my services afterward. Which of the following would be the right reason(s) for doing so?
The mean girls in school gave me fits for years. The male hallway bullies got me, too; I was a target. Here’s my tip: Don’t be among a bully’s followers — or one of their goons.
Dictionary definition of goon: “A bully or thug, especially one hired to terrorize or do away with opposition.” I have seen some online entrepreneurs who have allowed the evil part of junior high school back into their heads after they started following one of these online gurus/bullies.
At first, it’s exciting, especially if they choose you to be one of their goons. It’s OK to follow someone’s leadership because they have important information you need to grow your business, but ask yourself, “Is this the type of person around whom I want to base my life’s ethics and morals?” Bullies systematically attract and lure their goons.
Some of these goons often take over duties for these guys that include ganging up against the bully’s alleged enemies. Be careful if you find yourself slipping down the slippery slope toward being a mean girl or a hallway bully.
Why do so many online sellers keep on working into retirement? There are a number of excellent reasons. For starters, the average Social Security check for seniors in the USA is $1,404. That’s the average; many earn less. You can’t live on that.
So if you work your entire life for others and end up with a monthly income of $1,404 in your old age, you will have to work — and/or live with others in small spaces.
Next, for many seniors, selling online is actually enjoyable compared to certain insults that may come your way out in the workforce, and it’s mostly accomplished from home, with the entrepreneur (you) in charge.
Finally, by the time you reach retirement age, you may just be fed up with Mondays being back-to-work days. Keep your cool, save as much as possible, and consider selling into your later years.
Good poker players know when to hold ’em, and they know when to fold ’em. But either way, when they make that decision — usually within a few seconds to a minute — most of the time, they take a risk. The only time they know for sure they have a winning hand is when they have “the nuts”. That’s when poker players know they have the highest hand possible and that no one can beat them.
It’s the same with small business owners, except you’re holding merchandise instead of playing cards. Using a combination of your system plus your intuition can get you through this challenge.
Holding on to inventory is tricky. When should it be sent to the discard pile? Experts disagree on when to fold ’em, so it’s up to you to make decisions based on your own needs and sensibilities. Some sellers give listings a time limit: for example, 60 days or one year. Some don’t like to carry much inventory at all. Others keep certain rare and/or unusual items listed forever, waiting for the right buyer.
Consider the case of Weazie the texidermied weasel, who was listed for more than a year. Finally Weazie sold for $200+! Her seller just knew there was that one right person. She used her intuition. Use yours for certain rare or otherwise special items, along with a regular system for more commonplace stuff, and you’ll be fine.
Question from a listener: “Dear Lee, I heard the call from the seller whose friends were putting down her eBay endeavors as a ‘hobby’ instead of a business. That’s happening to me. My friends don’t want to hear me talk about my business, and it’s such a big part of my life. Your insight, please?”
My answer? You CAN outgrow your old life. It can be difficult to relate to friends or family members who demean what you do and want you to “get a REAL job”, for instance, or who don’t lend an ear to what you have to say about your work or your growth, etc. You’re basically stuck with your family — sorry — but you can choose with whom you spend your time, and how you spend it.
Pick your moments with these friends and family members. I have friends who wouldn’t know spreadsheets from bed linens, so I don’t go there. If the friendship is worth keeping, you’ll be able to find alternative fun stuff to discuss. Meanwhile, join a local seller meetup group, or start making acquaintances of other entrepreneurs who get it.
Spreadsheets, sales velocity, and accounting aren’t the only things you learn when you become an entrepreneur. Your business growth spills over into your personal life, including your character.
For instance, you may have learned to keep your cool when you get a return (anger management) or practiced taking pictures over and over again to perfect your photography skills (patience). How about the times you talked yourself out of listing a flawed item without calling out the flaw (moral dilemma)?
As you build your entrepreneurial chops, you also hone your character. Whenever you have the chance, do the right thing.
There is a gentle negotiation going on between you and your buyer before they buy your item. You want your product in their home, fast, but shoppers often want to investigate before they click on the Buy-It-Now button. They browse and take their time.
Don’t give them the chance to walk away thinking, “I’m not sure…maybe I’ll come back later.” A good solid FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section in your listing — i.e., the Q&A re: item details, shipping or combined shipping, return policy, etc., that comes up when a shopper clicks “Ask seller a question” — could help you turn more of these browsers into buyers.
FAQs containing a comprehensive set of well thought-out answers can alleviate buyer anxieties and get them to buy sooner rather than later or not at all. You know your products and your policies. Answer buyers’ questions before they have time to take a hike.
Some entrepreneurs are happy with a small to moderate cash flow. But if you want to be growth oriented, you need to know this secret: For today’s entrepreneurs, business growth is a result of constant challenge.
When your cash flow is satisfactory, and you know all of your systems oh so well, and you could practically run your business from a hammock? Well, it’s easy to stay there. I know this from experience.
To grow, you need to challenge yourself. Hire a helper; try new products; play around with new software trials; look at different pricing strategies; expand your industry reading; up-level your social media game; follow a new expert or join a seller group; and more.
A growth-oriented entrepreneur is always on the lookout for the right products and the right tools, not only to stay current, but to find things that will allow growth. Now go forth, and grow!
A very important mentor of mine passed away last Saturday. I had planned for a couple of years to write him a letter telling him how much I appreciated his guidance. Now it’s too late to let him know the impact he had on my life. Be sure to thank the people who gave and still give you encouragement, advice, and coaching. Thank the folks from whom you learned, who don’t even know they helped you to grow by being a role model. You won’t have any regrets later.