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One small business "nugget"
I was at the Embedded Linux Conference this year, and I participated in
the small business BoF. I thought it was a good idea, and I thought I'd
continue that helpful spirit by sharing here something that I've learned
along the way. Hopefully this will be helpful to someone else as well.
You may have noticed my email address and are wondering what I was doing
at an Embedded Linux Conference. I have over 20 years experience doing
software - a lot of it embedded work and a lot in Linux. I'm doing some
software contracting right now. At the same time I'm also trying to get
a financial coaching business off the ground.
So I'm working two businesses, and ...
learning a lot.
I thought I'd share an insight I have had recently. This insight is
this: Our attitude and our motivation for doing business makes a big
Answer the question, "Why am I in business?"
If your answer is, "to make money," you will approach your business very
different than if your answer is "to help my clients."
If your answer is, "to make money," cold calling is really hard because
it almost turns into a con game where you're trying to convince the
person to give you their money. Closing the sale is hard because you're
trying get their money rather than providing the value of your service.
If your answer is, "to help my clients," cold calling is easy. You're
looking to see if they have a need you can meet. Closing the sale
becomes easy because by then the client agrees you can help them. "It
sounds like this would be useful for you. Why don't we get together next
week and discuss the details? Would a M-W-F work better for you, or a
T-Th? Is morning or afternoon better? Good. I have 10:00am on Thursday.
I'm looking forward to working with you."
Ultimately when your business is more about you than about the client,
you end up devaluing your service in your own mind. Your thought process
is "How can I get the next job?" "Who can I get to pay me?" Your mind
stops thinking about how you can benefit the client. You're not even
thinking about it... until maybe you're almost losing the sale.
When your business is about the client, there is a mental shift that
takes place. In your mind, you are thinking, "I can help you and here is
how..." Your mind automatically starts going over the benefits of what
you can provide.
When your real answer to the question is more about you than about the
client, you can't fake it and pretend that it's really about the client.
Your true motivations will eventually bleed through, often in ways you
So what do you do if you want to but don't have client motivations for
your business? Well, I believe there are options. Here are a few:
1) You can try to find a different business where you can care about
your clients. I think this is a bit drastic and I definitely wouldn't
try this path first, unless you find you really dislike your business.
2) You can think back to why you first started your business. The reason
you started the business might be different than what is motivating you
now. You might have started the business for client benefit reasons. If
this is true for you, you need to recapture those original motivations
and make them true again.
3) If you were never client motivated in your business, maybe you can
just decide you're going to make your business client motivated going
forward. Now I said you can't fake it, so you need to change your heart
not just change your persona.
One way to change your heart is to create a mantra for yourself. Create
a short phrase that you repeat over and over in your mind. For example:
When you start connecting with new folks, "I Help my clients be
successful." When someone calls and asks you a question, "I Help my
clients be successful." When you're in front of a client working out a
contract, "I Help my clients be successful." Eventually you don't need
to remind yourself so often and your behavior and attitude becomes more
and more automatic.
That's the nugget I wanted to share: Make your business about benefiting
your client, and money will follow.
Let me know what you think. Was this too short? Too long? Just right?
Was this useful?
Jump in and share another "nugget" that you've learned along the way.
Steam Engine Financial Coaching
Phone: (916) 783-2622
I'm replying to this and cc'ing all the attendees (that I can
remember) of the ELC small business BoF this year. Not everyone at
the BoF is subscribed to the small business mailing list. I've
forgotten a few names, so please take a look through the cc: list and
let me know who is missing.
If you want to subscribe to the Linux small-business list, the
subscription link is here:
It's a low traffic list, so it will not lkml your inbox.
On Tue, Apr 20, 2010 at 12:31 AM, John Bonesio
Grant Likely, B.Sc., P.Eng.
Secret Lab Technologies Ltd.