When you’ve been in business for yourself for as long as I have, occasionally someone will come up with the question, “What’s the secret to your success?”
In truth, I have to say its actually pretty simple. There are no secrets. I’ve never had luck standing on my door, or a secret guide that’s shown me the magic path. But what I do is consistent with every business I’ve started, and works again and again because it’s systematic.
Every morning I get up and read through my favorite blogs via my Google Reader. When a trade magazine comes in, I sit down and read it. I buy books and check them out from the library every week. Yep, I’m what you’d call an information junkie. I have my favorite books – How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie, The Success Principles by Jack Canfield and the Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer, which I read over and over again. I also watch the top 100 lists to choose new titles from. Every time I read, I gain a new idea. It doesn’t matter if the book was just published, or is 50 years old and I’ve read it 10 times. Because I’m always at a different place in my life, and I always have new issues to deal with, I always learn something new. I’ve also found the older I get, the more I read, the better my business gets. Any correlation?
Yes, I do write for my blog every day. But “I Write” in this context focuses on what I learn from my reading. You see the only way to remember what you read, and retain the very best ideas you come up with is to write them down. It doesn’t matter if you use them now, or save them for a later timeframe. If you have an idea that could impact your business or change your life, you have to write it down. Than quantify it. How can you put it into place? How can it help you build for a better tomorrow? The more action you take on it, the more you’ll reap the rewards.
I Collect Ideas
Whenever an idea comes to mind, I write it down. The trouble with ideas is they can “pop” into your mind at any time, day or night, so it’s important to be prepared. I keep a notebook and pen on my nightstand for the 2 am ideas that wake me up. I know if I don’t get them down, I’ll be up all night trying to remember them. I also have a small notebook in my purse. If you’ve ever been out running errands and had nothing to write on, you know the dilemma. Instead of finding a napkin or an old receipt, I have my small notebook at hand, ready for all my ideas. And of course now, I also use my iPad – Evernote is a great resource that allows you to collect just about everything, from sites, to content, to photos.
I love to speak. But it wasn’t always that way. When I was in school, I was the shy kid in the back of the class, ducking down so the teacher wouldn’t call on me. A lot has changed over the years, and I’ve now found speaking to be a fun way to express what I do. Once you develop a strong passion for something, it propels you to want to share it with the world. But even if you are terrified of speaking to groups, and have no desire to become a keynote at a large conference, there are still ways to become better at speaking. Toastmasters is a great way to refine your speaking. You can also take classes at your local community college. Either way, they will help you think before you speak, and learn how to communicate better with your clients, even if the only way you ever speak is on a one to one basis.
Do you like to sell? I’ve rarely met people that stand up and shout how much they LOVE selling. Especially if it’s a cold call, and you have to win a person over just to get them to open the door to you. Instead, I like attracting people to me. The more you learn to position yourself as an expert in the field, and use all of the above steps to prove your worth, the more you will resonate with people. And attract them to you, so they are ready to buy long before you ever have to pull out your “selling” hat.
If you love photography, you strive to be the best you can be. Which is what we’ve done with our photography. Along the way, we’ve taken many classes from some of the greatest names in the business. We study what they do and apply it to our own photography. The same goes for business. Being a great business owner doesn’t just happen. I’ve owned businesses for over twenty years now, and every day I learn something new. I learn a new technique or a new application. I work to master an idea, and focus on it to use it to the best of its ability. It doesn’t happen over night. Instead, it’s a never-ending process; one you’ll do over and over again every day for the rest of your life.
I Love It
Do you love Monday mornings? I do. Because I’m excited about what opportunities are coming my way in the next week. In fact, I pretty much “think” business 7 days of the week because there are always new ideas coming my way. That is different than actually sitting down and “working” in the business. I take a ton of time away from my desk and my computer, and love playing too. But even if I’m on vacation, or taking a day out with friends, ideas pop up, and I think of how I can apply them to my business. It’s a part of me, and I can’t see myself doing anything else. When people talk about retiring in XX years, I always stop and wonder what it must be like to live life on the countdown. I haven’t done that in years. Instead, I morph my business again and again, knowing full well I’ll do this the rest of my life. I love it!
Can you say the same?