It’s now going to about 1 complete year since I got into the world of business and settled there full-time, especially as a mum. A lot has gone on in the past 12 months, and there have been priceless lessons learnt.
- Always do your best as a supplier and also as a client, regardless of whether or not the job pays ‘big’ money or just a little money. Do your best also even when giving a quotation or corresponding with clients and suppliers. Sometimes, deals go through not because of the mechanics of the work, but because of the experience of the parties involved.
- Always be honest about your abilities and limitations. Clients are happier to know about an expected delay from you than have a perfect picture and an awful presentation. Let them know from the beginning whether or not you can do what they need. They appreciate that more than the illusion of perfection. It also makes you work in a more relaxed environment within your means and capabilities.
- Focus on 1, 2 or 3 major things, and strive to do your best in those. Later on, as the businesses grow into empires, you can venture into various departments and perhaps even have franchises. For now, be known for a few things that you do excellently. That will sharpen your focus and give you a clear brand positioning.
- Leverage on technology, both old and new. Make use of the digital resources available to you, but also limit yourself to a few platforms that you can be effective on. Don’t spread yourself too thin on all platforms.
- Focus on relationships not sales. Yes, sales are important, but relationships produce repeated sales, versus the sales resulting from pressuring potential clients to get some goods or services from you. They might take just the cheapest product to end that conversation. Build trust and rapport instead, and as they get to know you, they get to trust you and also entrust you with bigger assignments not to mention referring you to others.
- Be yourself. This is very important! Clients want to deal with real, authentic people, not people with an artificial air of importance or whatever other fake things. Be human, be real. It always trumps over put-up airs.
- Let go of non-performing clients, suppliers, and retailers. It’s better to count your losses early on instead of wasting more time on ‘good deals’ (cheap products, services, etc). It’s better to pay a higher cost to performers and when serving clients who’ll actually pay, than to go for the lowest deals only to be delayed to frustrating extremes.
- Have clear goals and expectations, and strive to achieve them. Register accountability with someone so that you can be tough on yourself and get to do what you ought to do. The illusion of freedom is very deceiving. You don’t have all the time in the world, and although you’re the CEO, you also don’t have all the talents in the world. Therefore, you need to plan your time well and focus on what works, and what you can afford to do excellently. Also, invest time in learning and growing your skills and resource base. You need it!
Actual Mistakes Made & Actions Taken; and oh well, Successes Too 🙂
In line with the above 8 lessons, here goes.
- When I have given a good professional pitch even in a social setting, I’ve nailed some jobs and made some sales. When I have been a bit casual, well, there goes the opportunity! I once edited a Whatsapp advert for someone, inboxed them about, got a pitching opportunity for Cool Media Company and ended up with Amazing Girl Mentorship Services ministry opportunity and sales! Just from telling someone about a few concerning errors in their advert!
- I’ve had continued relationships with clients with whom I have been honest about my limitations, even when we didn’t get to seal a deal. I once tried to offer a variety of products, but because I was outsourcing heavily, the client moved on to a supplier who had the goods and services. Clients can read through your circumstances and see whether they’re dealing with you or a third party.
- I have reduced the variety offered on some of my products e.g. different notebook sizes and packaging styles, and now I offer just a few options. For customized options, the client gets to foot the bill, even though it is higher. It’s much easier on me too. I used to offer several sizes of notebooks (A4, A6), bound in different ways (spiral, perfect) and from different sides (portrait top, portrait side, landscape top, landscape side), boy was that a lot! From now on, I’ll deal with nice A5 portrait spring bound ones, period. Too much time and resource investment for that variety at this point in time, considering that I have a lot of other things to do. But now clients know that they can get that customized just for them!
- I use mobile applications that schedule my work to go out at certain times, which is very helpful. E.g. for sending messages, I prefer to use Textra, which can send out reminders at the exact minute the client or supplier had requested.
- Building relationships has led to wonderful speaking engagements for Amazing Girl Mentorship Services. Although I may not have secured many or any sales at the first meeting, the consequent interactions have produced more than a few sales – and instead led to great opportunities to speak to many more people e.g. at various churches and learning institutions.
- When I’ve given an apology because of circumstances beyond me, clients and suppliers have almost always been kind and understanding. When I haven’t remembered to do so, oh, I’ve received quite some tough calls! Thankfully, that was earlier in the business, but now things are different.
- I have ‘fired’ some of my clients, suppliers or retailers who have been too expensive, slow or had really poor relationship skills. I have stayed with the affordable ones who deliver on time and communicate well while at it. I have stopped selling my books in certain places, for example, and will be withdrawing a few more from some other places, and working only with faithful people. I have also learnt to excuse clients who make demands beyond what I can reasonably and excellently handle. I choose peace of mind instead. Some deals bring in money and leave with your self-respect, dignity and even sanity! Well, at least in business I have a choice of how much to take in and what to avoid.
- It has given me great fulfillment to see my to-do lists full of red, smiling ticks 🙂 This has encouraged me to go on. As we speak, I have a new book out already, several projects completed, and a heavy start on the next 4 projects, and I have great faith that by the end of the year, they’ll all be done. I break them down into small goals, say even a chapter a week, which then becomes manageable and definitely yields success. I go at my pace.
- I have also submitted myself to be accountable to a few people who ask me tough questions and share their wisdom with me, both in ministry and in business. This has been of tremendous help especially in preventing me from ‘scaling up’ too soon, way beyond my abilities and knowledge. I am forever grateful to them!
As a Mum, especially, I have learnt to work around my family’s needs and prioritize them, otherwise, I really wouldn’t be a mompreneur. May God help me to keep the balance, even when it’s hard. Sometimes something has to give, but I try to ensure that it’s not one side giving in all the time. Sometimes I postpone one area – home or business – but with clear communication to the other party; and since at the end of the day everything gets done, I can say I’m happy with what’s been going on. I hope to learn more and do better as time goes by! I thank God for these and many more lessons that He continues to teach me! May they be used for His glory.
How has your journey been? Please share with me. I’ll also respond to your emails, inboxes, and queries. Let’s do this! Have a great day!