Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Thrill of Hearing "Yes"

Get your mind out of the gutter! I'm talking about the entrepreneurial rush from hearing a client say "yes" to your proposal. For those of you in the space already, you know of what I speak. For those of you looking out from the cubicle farm and wondering, I share this with you as something I had not fully considered before I began.

The experience has some important differences from the experience of a sale. Additionally, the rush can be found in establishing relationships other than just selling something. The reason is that in this space that "yes" is a vote for you. Work gets done in the smaller business space based on relationships. Nothing earth-shattering in that statement and it does extend beyond this arena, but it is particularly true with owners of small and mid-sized businesses.

Networking and relationship-building constantly present new and unique opportunities for entrepreneurs. All of these go through phases with their own highs and lows, but the "yes" is the final affirmation that the investment is paying off. What can amaze many is the pace at which you can get there. Entrepreneurs will operate on feel--sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. This eliminates many of the dances that lead to sales, partnerships, or other relationships in Corporate America.

While the "yes" is an indication that you are heading towards another payday of some sort, the lasting encouragement comes from the reality of attacking the work you anticipated during development of the relationship and the sense of control you have in making that reality a success. It tells you that someone believes in you--someone who you often did not even know a couple of months prior! They believe your vision, and they believe you will do what you say can do.

I've used other posts to provide some reality checks, but on a cloudy day with pending drizzle here in Virginia, I'll keep today's focused up. This is truly a unique reality for entrepreneurs, and one that you have to experience to appreciate. You got the "yes" and you are in control of fulfilling the promises. Congratulations, celebrate, and then go do it again!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Be Part of the Solution

In the past week, I have had more frequent conversations with entrepreneurs and others voicing some degree of hope in the economy and wishing for a decrease in the media's dire and dour coverage. For some small and mid-sized businesses, this is a time for belt-tightening and holding on. For others, it is a time to expand and grow. The latter group does not typically get much attention, but they exist and it can happen.

It has struck me in the discussions with companies facing this growth opportunity that there is a really cool chance here to create solutions. There are great people out there looking for jobs. There is still money looking for investing in right opportunities (it's just different than the drunken sailor investment strategy of the past). Some of these companies are "new economy" and have huge upside potential with investment and the right strategy and execution. Other companies are "old line" companies in industries that stand to do well in the downturn. For both, the business opportunities have remained largely the same. Now, however, there is the added "cool factor" of being part of solving a problem of unique proportions. Seriously, how great would it be to know inside that the growth of your business is putting people to work and providing a valuable product or service at a critical time? Forget about stimulus checks from the government! These are proven, lasting solutions.

Part of me right now is picturing the philosopher Chevy Chase in Caddyshack instructing Danny to "Be your future. Make. Make your future." But the bottom line is that there is a very real opportunity here. I tend to be a (sometimes too) pragmatic thinker about strategy and execution, but look at the big picture here and realize the impact you can have. Embrace the opportunity to lead your business and create solutions.

There are plenty of other ways to contribute as well. A movement is afoot this week, in particular, led by Duct Tape Marketing. The effort is simply "Make a Referral" Week. Please check it out and sign up yourself. Mobilizing entrepreneurs to support one another, this group is pushing its own grass roots stimulus. Brilliant! Social media avenues spread this like wildfire as well.

That's it for the pep talk this week. To be honest, it was largely a therapy session to remind myself to keep my eyes on horizon ... above the current fray. Now, go make your referral.