It’s been 4,745 days of being self-employed. In April, 2001, I started my PR and communications company.
A few years ago, my accountant, who is also self-employed, shared his definition of an entrepreneur:
“I am a self-employed individual working for a lunatic.”
As I mark this proud milestone, I have taken time to reflect on the entrepreneurial roller coaster I have ridden.
Here are 10 communication tactics every small business owner must know:
1. You must know how to sell. Too many people decide to hang their shingle out only to learn they don’t know bubkus about sales. Entrepreneurs must be diligent at developing the self-confidence, attitude, discipline, and perseverance to ask people to hand over their hard-earned money.
2. You must live the ‘publish or perish’ mentality. In my pre-blogging days, I wrote bylined articles for trade publications and membership newsletters. Early on, I landed a spot as a columnist for the Princeton (NJ) Business Journal. I generated content and built my credibility. My volunteer gig lasted more than two years, and ended when the paper merged with another publication.
3. You must be willing to speak in public. You were brave enough to launch a small business. There’s no time for being shy or nervous. Partner with a networking group to be the guest expert at a meeting, conference, or webinar. You’ll be front and center with dozens of potential prospects interested in your topic. Beats cold-calling.
4. You must be able to validate others. Validation is an acknowledgement that the other person (your prospect or client) is being heard. Validation is proof that you are listening. For example: “I can imagine that the loss of your vendor has been difficult.”
5. You must know how to ask for what you need. No one expects you to know everything. That’s why there are contact lists, databases, and rolodexes filled with names of people who can provide products and services to you. Get rid of this self-induced pressure and be willing to speak up. Asking for help is a sign of a true leader.
6. You must be able to identify your ideal customers. This is accomplished by self-communication. Ask yourself: Who do I enjoy working with? What niche am I passionate about? Who needs my expertise? Do these people have the budget or resources to pay me?
7. You must have thick skin. People can be awfully mean. They say crap that’s not helpful or positive. Entrepreneurs are so fully vested in their own businesses that it’s hard not to take things personally. Don’t take the BS to heart.
8. You must communicate patience when educating people. Clients do business with you because you offer a valuable product or service that they want or need. You, on the other hand, are entrenched in your niche or business and will have to slow down to educate those who don’t know all the ins and outs like you do.
9. You must develop charisma. Charisma is that special charm or personality trait that draws people to you. Self-confidence, along with a friendly and easy demeanor, will take you a long way in business.
10. You must be willing to reinvent yourself. Chances are you are planning to be self-employed for a long time. Businesses and people change. It’s a given. How can you effectively communicate changes in your messages and direction, without alienating people?
Cheers to the brave small business owners around the world!
What have you learned along the journey?