The three pil­lars of a re­luc­tant en­tre­pre­neur

The Compass - - COMMENTARY - BY DEB­BIE ADAMS

Pil­lars of suc­cess

Are you faced with a dis­abil­ity or other life al­ter­ing event that makes it im­pos­si­ble for you to con­tinue in your cho­sen ca­reer path? Have you given any thought to be­com­ing an en­tre­pre­neur? Be­fore you de­cide that this ar­ti­cle is not for you, read a lit­tle more.

I was only 12 when I de­cided I wanted to be a sol­dier, and I en­joyed ev­ery minute of my time in the army. Vi­sion loss pre­vented me from con­tin­u­ing.

Own­ing a busi­ness was never an op­tion for me. It was the fur­thest thing from my mind. I thought that if I had enough ed­u­ca­tion, I would find a great job. A lot of you will know that a good ed­u­ca­tion is no guar­an­tee of a great job in this day and age. Af­ter job search burnout, I was faced with two op­tions: give up and live on a dis­abil­ity pen­sion, or be­come an en­tre­pre­neur. I chose the lat­ter. There was no real con­test. I had en­joyed a good life and I wanted to have that again.

It took a lot of work and some­times more work than nec­es­sary be­cause I was start­ing from scratch. I had no role mod­els to tell me what to do and I had no ex­pe­ri­ence with busi­ness. But I man­aged to go from be­ing a re­luc­tant en­tre­pre­neur to a woman who loves be­ing her own boss. Let me share with you what I con­sider to be the three pil­lars of suc­cess for any en­tre­pre­neur. • No. 1 — net­work­ing. Do­ing busi­ness in a vac­uum is not an op­tion. Hur­dle No. 1 for me was find­ing out how to net­work and af­ter sev­eral failed at­tempts, I came up with three op­tions that I have rec­om­mended many times.

Toast­mas­ters taught me how to com­mu­ni­cate in the busi­ness world and it got me con­nected with other peo­ple who were at dif­fer­ent stages in their own busi­ness.

At the Cham­ber of Com­merce, I in­vested the small an­nual fee and en­joyed thou­sands of dol­lars worth of free train­ing in all ar­eas of busi­ness while get­ting to meet peo­ple who would later be­come my clients and col­leagues.

As a mem­ber of the NL Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Women En­trepreneurs and the Cen­tre for Women in Busi­ness in Nova Sco­tia, I met other women who were will­ing to share the jour­ney with me.

It can be lonely as an en­tre­pre­neur — hav­ing a sup­port sys­tem is great. In all of th­ese or­ga­ni­za­tions, I have formed life­long friend­ships and we turn to one another for sup­port. • No. 2 — ask for help. This was a tough one for me be­cause I was fiercely in­de­pen­dent. What I learned is that there are so many folks out there who want to see you suc­ceed and they are all will­ing to step up and give you ad­vice. Maybe be­cause we all know how much we ap­pre­ci­ated the help that we got along the way, en­trepreneurs love shar­ing their knowl­edge with oth­ers. Learn to seek out those men­tors who are will­ing to give back.

Online re­sources are amaz­ing and I’m net­work­ing with busi­ness folks from all over the world. We al­ways reach out to one another to de­velop our re­sources and our con­tact list.

Never hes­i­tate to reach out and ask for what you need. The folks who are will­ing to help you out far out­num­ber the few who will refuse you. Learn to ask for what you need.

• No. 3 — the im­por­tance of sell­ing.

There is no doubt that in busi­ness you must sell your­self be­fore you sell a prod­uct. You have to be a per­son of your word even when it is dif­fi­cult to be true to your word. Ap­pear­ance and pre­sen­ta­tion mat­ter. Dress right and learn the lan­guage of busi­ness.

Once you have mas­tered your ap­pear­ance, you need to learn how to sell your prod­uct. Sell­ing can be chal­leng­ing and it can mean dif­fer­ent things for dif­fer­ent peo­ple.

If you have a store­front and sell a prod­uct, maybe you only need to open the door for cus­tomers to see your of­fer­ing. For those of us in the knowl­edge in­dus­try, the chal­lenge is greater be­cause we have to con­vince some­one to in­vest in train­ing.

Re­gard­less whether you are sell­ing a ser­vice or a prod­uct, there is a skill in­volved and you only get good at sell­ing by do­ing it over and over. Don’t leave money on the ta­ble just be­cause you do not know how to close the deal. Take a course if you have to.

You can make the best prod­uct in the world, but if you can’t sell, you’re not go­ing to make any money and busi­ness is about mak­ing money. Money is like blood — run out of ei­ther and you’re dead.

There are other lessons, but if you have a strong net­work, can ask for help and have de­vel­oped your sales skills, you’ll find the re­sources you need to be suc­cess­ful.

Be­fore clos­ing the door on be­com­ing an en­tre­pre­neur, re­mem­ber this — all skills are learned and some of us learn them later in life. You can lose the re­luc­tance and turn en­trepreneur­ship into a path for a good liv­ing. It is an op­tion.

— Deb­bie Adams is orig­i­nally from Up­per Is­land Cove, and now re­sides in Nova Sco­tia. She is the owner of Peo­ple­Can Train­ing and De­vel­op­ment, and the au­thor of “Sin­gle Again, Now What ... A Prac­ti­cal Guide to Mean­ing­ful Con­nec­tions.” As an adult ed­u­ca­tor and coach, she en­joys help­ing peo­ple live more pro­duc­tive lives. She can be reached by email at the fol­low­ing: deb­bie.adams08@gmail.com. On the web: www.peo­ple­can.ca

Deb­bie Adams

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