Ola Agbaimoni (Tycoonwoman) left the public sector a year ago after 25 years in local government. She took the plunge, left and set up her own company, Leaders to Follow Ltd. She works with work with ambitious, heart centered
women in their late 30s to mid 50s who are committed achieving their true potential.
But like most people starting a new business she had some difficult times on the way. Below is something she wrote a few months ago – before she moved on to success. It is a very good example of what the bad times can feel like. But if you want to succeed in business you just have to pick yourself up like Ola did, arm yourself with self belief and move forward.
“I’m still busy going to network meetings and talking to people, although perhaps not as many as my conversion projections would suggest. In sales’ speak that means how many people you have to speak to before you convert one into some one prepared to pay you, well in this case me. I won’t scare you with the numbers and to be honest you only have to do it that way until you get people prepared to recommend you, nothing sells you better than personal recommendation. This is me looking on the bright side. However, I often find myself starring into the Abyss Of Self Doubt.
The Abyss of Self Doubt
I have no clients. Not a single one. No one is paying me for my services. I have very clearly defined services and a fantastic elevator pitch to describe them. However, as yet they remain in my head because I have no leaflets and even though I have a web page it says UNDER CONSTRUCTION –a lot of help that is to potential clients!. It’s all going round and round in circles. I don’t want to produce my publicity without sorting out my branding and without publicity I won’t get any clients, so I won’t earn any money and I won’t be able to pay someone to do my branding and without branding I can’t do my publicity …I think you get the drift.
I can’t get to grips with why I don’t seem able to move forward. What is really going on for me? I did think it was because I’m not used to doing my own administration, but clearly that is just an excuse. Something else is prevented me from moving forward with my business and making money. I am not making any money at present (waling voice). Indeed I am not even spending money. So imagine my surprise when the HMRC sent me a VAT bill. Yes a VAT bill! When I already told them that I was not trading! When I already called and asked them if I needed to submit a VAT return for August as I was about to leave the country, AND as they had sent the notice so late, there was no time to respond before I left.
They said ‘no you don’t need to send in a VAT return. Your application missed the deadline and our system doesn’t show that one is due. We will send you a bill for the next quarter’.
I said ‘Are you sure? I don’t want you to write to me telling me that I should have sent you a return. Can you please put that on my records, so that if somebody else sees it they will know that you told me this?’
‘Yes’ said the very helpful (but as I discovered later) very ill informed person on the phone.
Clearly it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce that it all ended in tears. With me having to quickly put in a VAT return, which basically said I have spent money on an IPad and have not made a single penny because I DON’T HAVE ANY CLIENTS!. I DON’T HAVE ANY CLIENTS!.
I am finding it so hard to find clients. I’ve done the ‘Painless Selling’ training. According to this – there are opportunities to find clients everywhere! All you have to do is start a conversation with a complete stranger! Show them their pain and behold you have a client! Yeh right!!!.
In the first place I really don’t want every single conversation I have to be a sales pitch. Definitely incongruence there – how can I be putting forward the philosophy that you have to be open and honest with people and come from a place of integrity, if I only ever talk to people because I’m trying to sell them something?
Anyway I have a deep aversion to sales people. As soon as I detect the sales pitch my guard goes up and I become completely defensive, horrible and nine times out of ten rude! The only thing I can think if is ‘GO AWAY!’ So if this is going to work for me (and I really want it to) I have to find another way.
I thought of talking to everyone I meet regardless of their client potential. Every conversation would just be a conversation. A sharing formation rather than a sales pitch. But how much time do I have to do that? I worked out that I would have to speak to over 1200 people per month to get 20 clients wow. (Oops Just gave you the scary figures!) Clearly that isn’t doable! When would I have time to coach them?!.
Ok enough of the Abyss of self doubt. It really isn’t as bad as all that. I’m getting stuck into my networking via 4Networking -‘ … the first joined-up national Networking organisation to let you decide where you go to meet like-minded business people, how often you go and how you can generate results for your business. They guaranteed 3 ten minute meetings at every event – up to 4 times a week – in nearly 200 linked breakfast groups’
I volunteered to be the group’s marketing assistant because you get your membership for half price and you can call any business you like and invite them to breakfast and then set up a meeting with them before anyone else can – what power. Takes the sting out of cold calling and I’ve already managed to find a business to trade coaching time for design skills.
So I shall leave on an optimistic note. The most powerful business tool I’ve discovered to date is self belief. With it you can get through the Abyss of self doubt and come out the other side more determined to succeed. Without it … I guess you just die in there! “