No time for your own entrepreneurial venture?

I have been in that shoes before.

If you don’t allocate time and effort, it will never happen.  Looking back from the day I jumped into a solopreneur in 2010,  my motivation was running. I wanted to become an athlete, I wanted to have time for my marathon goals, pursue yoga training and become a triathlete. I wanted to end the night-shifts as an hotelier and felt compelled I could do much more.

Sometimes, all you need is a spark to make you get out of the box you’re in. Did I ever become an athlete? a marathon runner, yes. Became a certified kids yoga instructor,  and still working on becoming a triathlete.

Being a solopreneur can also be overwhelming, in fact, it is overwhelming.  You’d have to find the time to fit everything: making money, developing a product, refining your skills and continuously marketing yourself to gain more clients.

It’s like going through an MBA program on steroids. 

In every corporate job I’ve endeavored to be in, I took it as an opportunity to learn.  I was always observing my peers, questioning my bosses, and volunteering to do more than what I am tasked to do; often times, I may have gone beyond what’s in my job description but that’s how we grow. If we settle, you’ll get stuck from just being where you are. Curiosity has always been roaring and I wasn’t afraid of asking, trying and failing.

If you’re stuck in a rut with that 9-5pm job, maybe you’d have to change that mindset and consider it as a free learning ground; and you get paid for the service rendered. Treat it as if it were your business, and you’ll be able to gain critical decision-making skills along the way.  Once you’re equipped, apply it to your next endeavor and pursue.

There were times I felt like a real mess when I was in my corporate job, especially when I experienced handling three (3) departments because all the heads resigned and I was the newbie who had no choice but to keep the business running. I had to learn the ropes on the fly, make use of the available resources and consulted every person I can.  Despite the overwhelmed tasks, it was also the gig I am most grateful for.

Leave complaints out of your way. Every hardship is an opportunity to grow.

It was a vicious spiral and I didn’t know how to get out of the rut. Throughout those periods when I used to work for other people, I realized I wanted to work with people and not just solely be enslaved by a daily routine.  I wanted to hit my goals so badly, I had finally found the thing I knew I was meant to do which will fulfill my being, fuel my drive, and enrich my interests. 

Once I managed to shift as I was headed for burnout, it all changed.

Here are  few practices I still use to this day, I hope this also finds to help you towards working on your entrepreneurial venture:

1.  FOCUS 

If you’re currently at your 9-5pm job, focus on your tasks and prioritize. Jumping back and forth between tasks not only make you feel inefficient, you’ll also feel burned out. Anxiety is the last thing we’d want to go through every day when deadlines approach.

2.  NOTE IT

Call me old school but I’m still the girl who carries pen and paper. If an idea pops in, don’t rely on ‘just remembering’ as trust me, you will never get to remember it completely. Write down tasks before you start and end your day. These reminders will help you go through your week and make you manage your schedule.

3. SCHEDULE 

As you take note of reminders, tasks, and ideas. You should have your calendar and notepad as your productivity best friend. Break it down into actionable tasks and manageable chunks, schedule the activities accordingly in order for you to set appointments and analyze which is best for face to face meetings, emails or conference calls.

Transfer your calendar notes on your mobile phone’s google calendar and send out client scheduling system for everything in order for you to set through the commitment.

4.  TOP 3 TASKS

Nothing in the workforce aren’t rush nor important. Every delivery is a priority, however, given the tight deadlines, it’s best to manage deliverables according to its weight. Even if you think you can manage and do everything in a day; given the uncontrollable circumstances, it’ll be impossible to accomplish everything.

Focus on the top 3 priorities especially those with dependencies.  Pressuring yourself to have everything done in a day not only will burn you out, it’ll also put a whole lot of unnecessary stress on your sleeves.

5. ALIGN DELIVERABLES

That also includes commitments.  Clarity would make the work easier and efficient. If you work with a team, being on the same page makes a whole lot of difference. Seek for their thoughts and make sure you’re all on the same track.

6. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

Just like all other engagements, you’d have to also put yourself first. You only have yourself to depend to and there’s only one YOU.  Taking good care of yourself not only will it help you physically, it will also give you the breather you need. You’ll be kinder with your peers, efficient and productive.

If you can’t afford the gym, you can always resort to YOUTUBE videos, do jumping jacks and squats, and log-in a 3mins burpee. Monitor your mileage and walk.

7. CHANGE THAT MINDSET

If you keep on telling yourself “I have no time” and “will never find the time’, well, as you said, it’s never going to happen. You will physically and emotionally feel stressed, overwhelmed and anxious throughout all tasks laid on you. You are what you think.

Shifting that “never” mindset to reversing the belief, will completely change the way you feel and take action. Procrastination and unfocused action typically happen when you pour the negativity and take too much advantage of your free spirit.

As they say, your thoughts do create your reality. This has been proven numerous times from both scientific and spiritual perspective.  Your choice.

8. FOCUS ON THE SOLUTION 

Never the problem. There is no such thing as problems, there are only but challenges.

Troubleshooting, management, and critical strategic thinking can never be referred to textbooks but there may be rules to follow. You already have the solution in you, it’s how you face it which makes a difference.

Give yourself the space to get creative and avoid being reactive.

Pause and look inwards, and the solution will come. Get into the habit of putting your entrepreneurial capabilities hat on rather telling yourself that you have no power over the situation. You may not need to do it alone, consult.

9. ASK

There’s nothing wrong in asking for a helping hand or someone’s thoughts when you think you’re stuck in a rut or just can’t seem to get off a situation. It’s a people-centric business,  if you need support, by all means, lift the phone and schedule the meeting. Get it.

10.  BE RATIONALLY IMPATIENT AND DELEGATE

Have that sense of urgency but have patience. It’s okay to be impatient when there are goals you’d have to achieve and have set a deadline.  However, sometimes, due to unforeseen circumstances, consider the in-betweens.

Don’t feel left behind, just so long you’re committing time to your goals and working on milestones you’ve set – this shows how committed you are to your success.

Delegate if you must, one can’t-do everything alone.

What is your end goal? be clear and make it happen.  You’re on your own journey, on your own path. This is your true self, your own timeline. Don’t compare yourself to someone who has already started their chapter 1 long time ago. Being frustrated and overwhelmed is normal but being hard on yourself won’t’ make you a better entrepreneur.

 

Give yourself credit for what you’ve accomplished, where you’ve been, what you’ve gone through. This is your journey.  You have time. Don’t give up, you are limitless.



Sales Lessons from a Marketing Practitioner

I have always loved selling and closing a sale – whether it’s a group account for room reservations, products on consignment, or accounts for marketing campaigns – it gives me that jolt of excitement as I associate every sale into winning.

However, the commitment of having to sell as the priority of my job scope is another story. I’ve always thought, I can help but having to make it as a primary is another story.

As a freelancer or a solopreneur, being your own sales person is key to survival and getting more projects under your belt. You are your own business developer. I have been juggling learning different hats but what remained constant were the following:

  • Prospecting for Lead Generation
  • Qualifying the Leads
  • Meeting the prospects to demonstrate value and translate their products into yours.
  • Education and Guide to Frame their thinking
  • Closing.

A sales cycle. Apparently, even if I was doing Marketing tasks, I have been already applying sales practices for the business. I learned that not every person you get to meet will turn into a closed sale.

Now that I’ve switched to business development, I’m learning how it takes practice, experience, and grit on facing clients knowing every sales agent encounters a 90% rejection rate. But, as you go through the process and master your product and getting to know your clients – you’d eventually turn the need into a want then into a necessity.

It’s still marketing, except, you’re more focused on closing the deal rather than helping sales disseminate information and collaterals branding.

From preparation to dealing with different clients from different industries, here are few B2B sales and marketing lessons I’ve learned in the process.

  1. Stories & Facts Matter

It’ll be of an advantage knowing you walk the talk and you know pain points of the industry or as a practitioner. Within the first few minutes of your conversation, it’s important that you give a brief background of where you’re coming from and where the company stands. Always carry a quick story on how your product helped and can help, how it solves a certain paint point and not just a cool add onto a company’s marketing mix. You should speak as an expert leader, you are the expert leader.

2. Not all clients are the right fit.

I understand that Sales is a numbers game. The law of averages matters, up until you get to hit the right person for your product. However, to lessen this pain on speaking to numerous people and the high rejection percentage; you’d already have to pre-screen the person you’re going to meet with, even right before you meet them. Think of these questions: Do you think they’re the right person to offer your product? Is s/he the decision maker? If you were in his/her shoes; if you give this product, do you think it’ll be a great addition to help them solve a challenge? How will they get to monetize your product? will it monetize or cut costs?

3. Customers First

As much as you’re focused on sealing a deal and close businesses for your company, salesmen tend to hard sell rather than offer their services towards answering a question, solving a problem. Switch that mindset and focus on helping your potential customers ahead first. Have your customers at the center and earn the opportunity to explain how you can help them by letting them share their pain points and challenges rather than dictating how awesome your product is and pushing self-promotions too much.

4. Continue to learn every day

There is no template in answering a need and solving challenges. There are no shortcuts, only better strategies. It’s the little things you have to do every day, all day, to make it work attitude matters. You’d have to put your head down, check your ego and get to work. Grind and hustle. Assess your approach, and if you’re brave enough, ask for feedback. This way, you get to apply these learnings to get your pitch better for the next one and when you do get to meet with that client again, you’ll be able to address the pain points and challenges they’ve shared and you’d be better prepared to know you’ve given it a thought and now have an answer to their challenges.

5. Re-acquaint yourself with Math

Because numbers don’t lie. Treat it like how you save up for a dream car, budget your bills and forecasting how to fund your future home. In business, staying close to the numbers makes you plan and set goals. If you earn more through commission, it’s great to push yourself to achieve your numbers to fund your dreams and goals; per month, you have a good target achieve. Just the same with business, sales boost the business and fuels the company to operate.

I would perhaps write more as I go along and share more lessons I’ve learned in the process. Care to share yours? Enjoy this article? Don’t forget to share.



Leverage on LinkedIn to Market Educational Institutions

More often than not, when anyone goes online and connects to LinkedIn, that person is most likely looking for a job. Very rarely does one use the site the same way as Facebook or even the archaic, now defunct Friendster (though there are some groups that have noticed the rise of socializing on LinkedIn). More often than not, matters on LinkedIn are kept professional – strictly business.

There are ways, however, to still be able to use LinkedIn for Marketing, Promotions and Communications purposes. It still is a social network site, after all. One that is geared towards the professional arena, but still built on the foundations of people who know people.

“But what about schools?” you may ask. It’s true that marketing an educational institution is different from marketing a certain product. One may measure marketing success in relation to units sold, whereas it isn’t so clear cut in schools. Despite this oddity, Educational Institutions may still use LinkedIn for Marketing Communications and Branding purposes.

Register as Employer 

Let’s face it. LinkedIn IS a go-to for job seekers. So using the Human Resource Management function of the site is the most practical reason for visiting. Through the different networks, groups, and connections, your school will be able to find the right people (whether academic or non-academic) to help it move towards its Mission of Educational and Academic Excellence. As you find the right people, your customers (the students and other stakeholders) will serve to promote the school better through word of mouth.

 

Did you know Linkedin came up with LinkedIN for Higher Education?

List under Universities Category

Just like with other Social Network Sites, LinkedIn employs a search bar for quick information retrieval. Sometimes, though, searching using generic keywords may not guarantee that your brand will be found. LinkedIn has a number of subcategories under which you can narrow down your search (by clicking on the symbol to the left of the search bar) such as People (if you’re searching for a specific individual), Jobs (for employment opportunities), and even Universities (for educational institutions). Now, LinkedIn doesn’t bother with technicalities such as status (some educational institutions aren’t classified as universities), so this includes all schools.

Once the University Page is made, it can be searched through the subcategory (which increases the likelihood of result generation compared to a general search), and the page can also post updates and announcements as a brand.

School Administrators as Influencers

Unless their current job in the educational institution is their first one after graduation (which is possible), then school administrators have their own professional experiences to share. School personalities normally have much more to impart as they climb the ladder to corporate and educational success. In fact, school officials normally share more than corporate officials because as they make their way up the corporate strata, they also earn more academic experience as evidenced by diplomas, Master’s and Doctorate degrees, and other certificates. Having these individual as Linkedin Influencers is not only good for their professional image, but also for the school as well, as they carry the name with them in every post and update.

Employees as  Brand Advocates

As a social network, LinkedIn increases the chance of brand exposure the more users are attached to the brand. If, for example your school has around a thousand employees, and all of them are connected to the school brand on Linkedin, then that means their other connections on the site may also see whatever post or update the University Page has, as these will appear on their wall due to the engagement of their common connection. And, as social network hierarchy goes, the higher the reach, the bigger the potential for engagement.

Monitor/Track Alumni

Aside from also employing Alumni as brand ambassadors (as with employees, see #4), University Alumni can also be monitored for outcomes purposes. Schools normally track the progress of their graduates to see what has become of them after graduation, which tends to reflect the competency of the school as a quality educational institution. More renowned schools like Harvard and Yale aren’t famous because of the number of graduates they have produced, but because of the quality outcomes of the said graduates. On a social network such as LinkedIn, these graduates can also serve as influencers, sharing their knowledge and corporate experience to the online professional public.

With the right combination and application of the aforementioned examples, community managers of educational institutions will be able to carry their reputation and brand far across the realm of cyberspace and into the dimension of recall, especially to the curious newcomer who has not been influenced by territorial reputation.

This article was contributed by JC Zozobrado for JustKas‘ DigiThink!