You must Speak Up and Stand Up in your business
It’s plenty of aspiring and current business owners out there who have a great concept, the drive, the skillset, and everything in between but low self-esteem. If esteem issues are your struggle, business is the last place to show it. Not thinking positively of yourself produces detrimental results.
Speaking up in business is your message to customers, partners, vendors, and fellow entrepreneurs. Your values, beliefs and what you will or won’t tolerate are communicated. It’s required and expected of you at all times. No one is going to be a better advocate for your business than you.
You’re going to have people who dislike you and your business. Just because someone dislikes you don’t mean you let them use you, disrespect you, or make you feel ashamed for being human.
You are responsible for your happiness.
Protect your peace.
Beware of Masks
You meet all types of people. Some will be genuine, wanting to see you win. Others will be standoffish, waiting to see significant results before they take your business seriously. Of course, you’ll have the haters, who always have something negative to say.
Watch out for takers, wanting everything for nothing. They’ll ask you for a business card out of entitlement. Then you have those who’ll give you their business card seconds after saying hello. Business owners excessively hard sell products and services when it’s clear you aren’t their target customer. There’s some who only want to connect for clout. Lastly, those who act like memberships are needed to sit next to them.
To be candid
Sometimes a craft business is viewed nothing more than a cute lemonade stand or a display project you see at a science fair. At craft and vendor shows, attendees walk around, look and barely speak sometimes. Some attendees only see your vendor booth as hagglers haven.
Or they ask a million questions and still not buy a darn thing. Even though there’s been an increase in craft business owners, it still has the hobby stigma. You may argue that those individuals aren’t your audience. Some people have an appreciation for handmade but think you should sell at secondhand prices.
Just to let you know
Not all coaches and gurus are kind or respectful towards clients. Follow the rule: don’t give your money to anyone who doesn’t treat you right. Constructive criticism is acceptable, and you’ll know the difference. For starters, it’s respectful and helpful. Second, examples are given. A condescending person always criticize, never offering a solution.
Before your business reaches its peak, be prepared to be questioned about your path to entrepreneurship. Wildly if you leaped (quitting your 9-5 to go into business). What made you think you should go into business? What does your “little” company do? What is your business? Does it make any money? Who’s buying this stuff? Someone paying for that?
Being around negative people does nothing for your sanity. Traveling the road of business ownership already comes with many challenges. Most times, you’ll find the path to be lonely. The mind is something you can’t allow others to have. Being around negative energy does nothing for your sanity.
Instead, surround yourself with those who’re serious about succeeding and having the willingness to work towards it. Your support group needs to be at the same level. There shouldn’t be anyone who’s taking away and giving little to none, and vice versa.
Tell others what you do
You can’t expect to receive help or grow on unknown requests. Whether you’re in an online community, at an event, or just out and about, talk about your business. Introduce yourself, state who you are, what you do, who you help, and how you solve their problem.
If you aren’t much on verbally speaking about your business, there are alternatives. Wear a logo shirt or cap. If you’re sitting out, use laptop and phone covers with your company brand. When driving, use window decals. If you attend many events, you can’t ever go wrong with giving someone a pen with your business information on it. They’re conversation starters.
Be confident about your business. Whether you’re introducing yourself to someone, participating in pitch competitions, or speaking to others, be yourself. Don’t speak in a way that sounds like you’re begging for approval.
You’ll come across people who will impolitely cut you off. Once someone has shown themselves to you in a way that doesn’t match your energy, excuse yourself and speak to someone who will appreciate your conversation.
I’m the first to say that I’m no expert in the subject matter, but one thing for sure is that a lot of progress has happened over the years. In the beginning, I was not too fond of networking events and thought they all were a waste of time. Some “networking” events aren’t anything to write home about, but that’s for another day and time. The main reason why I struggled with networking was that I attended events with the wrong mindset.
Networking is the start of relationship building. Not in a, “Hi, my name is, please be my friend for life” way. It’s a professional event. Treat it as such. Most times, you either don’t know anyone there or just a handful of people. Use this as an opportunity to learn about others and see if you’d be interested in a meeting with them.
Do not sell or pitch your business. Listen more and speak less. Before attending an event, have an end goal in mind. Maybe it’s to talk with five people or just the keynote speaker. Bugging everyone in the room isn’t networking.
Diversify the event types you attend.
Don’t just go to events to say you’re at them.
Follow up with those whom you met. Do so within 24 hours after the event. It doesn’t have to be a long email; just a couple of sentences will do. Follow-ups are essential, but it doesn’t mean pouring into things that don’t reciprocate. If you’ve reached out to someone you met three times and they have yet to respond, keep it moving.
Your customers and fellow business owners
Stress is not a solution when dealing with difficult people. Just as customers are selective about who they purchase from, you need to have a criterion for people in business. Everyone doesn’t want advice, but everyone wants to speak. When you’re actively listening and observing, you can gather a lot about a person.
You’ll find out what they like or dislike. Things they value. Do they have ethics or not? How credible they are. Their communication style and how they interact with others. What social media posts they engage in. the list goes on and on.
To get a feel for your potential customers, listen to what questions they ask. Do they talk excessively? Are there any trust issues? Customers buy your product or service because it solves their problem, not to bully you in exchange for currency. When you’ve provided good customer service, tried everything to solve their problem, and they are still dissatisfied. Don’t be afraid to give them a refund.
If you want to know someone’s true nature, watch how they behave when they have to spend money. Due to social media platforms, people have gotten bolder. There was a time where people didn’t dare say or ask certain things. Nowadays, people do it because there’s very little accountability.
No matter how you price your products or service, there’s always going to be dissatisfaction from someone. The biggest complainers won’t buy anything, and if so, it’s only once. You’ll get caught up in defending your pricing with people.
Don’t apologize for your prices. Once you’ve crunched the numbers, set the profit margin, and stay within average industry pricing, there’s no need to feel wrong about pricing. You aren’t obligated to give discounts, no matter how many times people ask you. And please, no second-guessing your decision.
Offering things for free is a choice, not an obligation
You will receive requests and demands to donate your product (samples, bag inserts), services (InKind donation), or time (volunteering). No matter how many times they ask you, how you respond matters. There’s nothing wrong with donating, but it has its time and place.
You’re in business to make money. If you’re not profitable, you’re not in a position to help anyone. Bottom line.
When you are in a position to help, feel free to do so. Before making a decision, think about how the other party benefits. When the opportunity is more beneficial to them, negotiate for a more favorable deal. If the option is more advantageous to you, make adjustments.
The internet is 24/7
It’s up to you to ensure that your online presence communicates what you want it to say. That includes your website, social media page activity, emails, videos, podcasts, virtual events, and so forth.
Sometimes you will have people who will test you, seeing how far they can go. If you have a group page with rules, stick to them at all times. Give them a warning. If that doesn’t work, delete their comments or posts.
If you make a business-related post and you have people trying to stir up drama or ask an off-the-wall question, you can ignore them or refer them to send an email. Whatever you do, don’t get caught up in the back and forth. Others will see you as problematic even though you’re defending yourself.
If there’s a case where someone falsely presents you or your business, handle the matter as soon as possible. If it’s a legal matter, get an attorney involved.
As an owner
Your business is a vehicle, and it’s your job to steer it in the direction it needs to go. Being in charge comes with huge responsibilities. Addressing everything said about you isn’t necessary. However, you need to use your voice and let others know that you are serious about your business. It doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie or a veteran entrepreneur. Always stand up and speak up for yourself and your business.