My various careers have been good to me. When I first got out of graduate school I was hired as the very first female and the first “out-of-stater” in a state government job in Louisiana. When we moved to Colorado I became the first female supervisor (of much older men) in another state job, going on to win the State of Colorado's Outstanding Supervisor Award. I was also the first (along with my co-worker) to propose and get approved a job-share as a state employee. And when the time came to move away from Colorado I was the first (and probably still the only person) to continue working for a state government when I no longer lived there, because they “didn't want to lose me.”
After we moved to Tennessee I was once again the first “outsider” hired for a regional economical development position. After that, I took a risk and signed on as a 3-month temporary researcher for a university consortium and within 2 years I was in a senior manager position. Once again, I ended up developing a nation-wide program for a totally male industry and leading that organization from nothing to a vibrant organization that even now, decades later, flourishes with over 1000 members. A year later I went to a senior executive level position, and in two years had increased the staff in my program from a lowly 7 to 52 people. When I left to go out on my own I established a service-based business that was booked a solid year in advance after 24 months in business.
I say all this to point out why I was able to wildly succeed over and over again, because when I'm interviewed I'm always asked how I did all this. I'm not smarter than anyone else. I'm not better educated. I didn't come from family money, I started from absolute scratch out of high school the same as most people I know. But I do two things that many people don't do. Those two things are
Frankly, I see both of those lacking in the entrepreneurial world. And that's a shame, because follow-up and consistency are the two things that build relationships. And those relationships, in turn, build your success. Do you see yourself doing any of these things?
- Have you signed up for mastermind or other paid programs but then failed to be on the calls?
- Have you volunteered to comment weekly on other people's blogs but then fail to follow-through and offer up excuses about being on travel or being busy?
- Have you committed to be in a group for mutual support but then let the press of your own business keep you from attending the meetings or the calls?
- Do you engage in a joint venture with another entrepreneur but then fail to follow through with the publicity for the event that you were tasked to do?
- Do you think constantly that you need to write a book, or develop a product only to find that a year later you've done not much toward either one?
- When someone asks you for an interview do you conjure something up at the last minute that isn't as rich in content as it might be, figuring that “it's good enough.”
- When clients or customers cancel appointments with you do you follow through with other prospects until your book is full for the week, or do you figure “oh well” and go off to the movie?
- Do you find yourself canceling appointments on the day they are to take place, appointments that have been on your calendar for weeks?
- Do you find yourself offering “I'm overwhelmed” or “I'm just ADD” or “I'm extremely busy right now” or “I'm a working mom” as excuses for not keeping your commitments?
Maybe this comes off sounding harsh to you. But the fact is, when you agree to participate in a group, it isn't only what you will get from that participation, it is what you also are there to give. So when you don't show up you basically break your commitment to be there for other members, even if you feel like you personally won't benefit. You are showing a lack of follow-up and a lack of commitment. You are saying “my time is more important than your time.” You are saying “I don't have anything to learn from this group.”
Personally, I take it as a sign of a weak business owner if I hear “I can't attend what I committed to, I'm just so busy right now.” Believe it or not, you are no busier than anyone else who owns their own business. I know right away that you are weak in scheduling out your time to include what you committed to, often months ago. My friend Fabienne Fredrickson often says she teaches a “no excuses” approach to business building, something I've admired in her. Over the past months I've realized that my approach is pretty much the same. Busy, on vacation, and sick family members are, in my opinion, poor excuses 99% of the time. The multi-millionaires who mentor me don't use those excuses, ever. They know that no other successful business owner wants to hear how busy they are, even though they are, in fact, incredibly busy.
My grandfather used to say “If you want something done well, ask the busiest person you know to do it.” He knew those were the strongest and ablest in business. We all have the opportunity to build sterling reputations and relationships that will stand the test of poor economic conditions, changes in personal life, and whatever else the world has to throw at us. It takes follow-up and consistency, and nothing else will substitute for those two behaviors.
A sister entrepreneur I know came to me a few months ago asking for a $3000 investment to work with her in her business. I was interested and even somewhat intrigued. But this same woman, I've noticed, has agreed to be in two groups I'm involved with and after signing up has failed to show up one single time over the past few months. She has no credibility with me, and while she'll never realize it, that lack of commitment made me feel like she just might do the same with my $3000. She lost the business not because her business plan isn't sound, but because I don't see her keeping her commitments – no follow-up, no consistency. The world responds to both of those – it has for me, over and over and over again. It will for you, too.