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How to Stop Selling and Start Building a Business

Originally published on Aug 26, 2021

By Paul Cowan


The Day I Stopped Selling and Built a Business

The advertising agency I’d joined was the most competitive and ambitious in London. Building business was hardwired into every one of us. Competition with other internal teams as part of the process. Jumping to the top of the queue above other teams for the next new business prospect gave us more opportunities for winning new business. We were trained to present, to sell, and sell again and again. And I was desperate to succeed.

Failure could be challenging. Our creative teams could be fearsome to deal with. Emotions ran high — sometimes way too high, with unpleasant consequences. I planned to stay for a year or so. But twelve years passed quickly, and I ended up running a big group. The rewards for those of us who succeeded were good, but I wanted more.

I took a big, big risk and started a breakaway agency with seven colleagues. With a full team and a great office in the center of London, we had a stupidly large overhead from Day One. We also had no client and no income. We had to sell to survive. Every single opportunity, every new business prospect, however small, was critical. Our family houses, the school fees, the grocery bills, and everything we owned depended on winning business.

We were good — mostly, very good. Even if we lost a new business pitch, we didn’t give up. Sure, this irritated some prospects, but mostly they appreciated our hunger.

Every idea had to be sold and nurtured. Every opportunity, however small, is exploited. Our lives and our families depended on it. And at the end of the first year, we broke even. Our bankers were so amazed they threw us a private lunch to celebrate.

Then times got edgy. We had big debts. We restructured, redoubled our efforts, and focused harder on winning business. We survived — and produced some outstanding work.

After years and years of selling the agency to prospects, to staff, stakeholders, and selling work to clients, I realized something. I was dog-tired. I was exhausted from filling the leaky bucket of revenue over and over again. I knew it was time to merge my agency and get out. I stopped selling.

New Business. No Selling

After a stint at business school, I was back in business, but this time, on my own. I had no website and no nameplate in my office. I was invisible, and I didn’t sell. I just told past clients and colleagues what I was planning and doing.

For four months, the phone was quiet. Then it rang. I met with the prospect — and instead of selling and telling him about my offer, I just asked questions about his company and what problems required attention. I checked the size, importance, and cost of those problems.

He was interested in working with me, and I was interested in working with him. I wrote a two-paragraph summary of how to tackle the issues and added a price range. It was large and provided good value.

And the phone continued to ring, despite no website, no marketing, no sales activity, and no long submissions. I refused to write submissions – only one-page outlines. I just asked questions.

“Telling is not selling. Only asking questions is selling.” – Brian Tracy

Really. No Selling.

A few years later I co-founded The Client Relationship Consultancy. Again: no website, no marketing, no selling. I met with past colleagues and explained our philosophy. We made them sign a two-way NDA — we would never talk about them, and they would never talk about us.

But they wanted to work with us. As clients moved to new agencies, the word spread and we got more calls. These new prospects wanted credentials presentations. I explained that I would tell them about our business for less than sixty seconds, and about our philosophy and approach for four minutes. At that point, if they did not agree with our approach, we could cut short the meeting and I might be able to suggest others who could be a better fit for them. But no one ever said that. And we still had a two-way NDA.

We never chased after a meeting. If I thought a prospect would not be right for us, I would decline their business. Occasionally, existing clients wanted to do things differently. If whatever they suggested failed to meet our philosophy, we refused to work with them.

I loved this new way of carrying out business. I felt re-energized. And our clients stuck.

To my business partners’ intense irritation, I refused to set annual targets. I did not want to feel that I needed to sell. But over sixteen years, our business grew and grew — to offices and consultants in London, Windsor, Boston, Mexico, Munich, Singapore, and Sydney. Still no website. Still no new business or marketing activity. Still a two-way NDA.

Why It Worked

Why did this approach work? Not having objectives for sales, and not selling, meant that I had a powerful position, equal to that of a prospective client. I could relax. As a result, so could the client. We were able to have adult-to-adult conversations. The prospective clients became less defensive, and more open to me. They were comfortable disclosing deeper, underlying issues.

Both parties had the opportunity to ensure that the ‘fit’ between was tight. Both sides had the chance to ensure that our beliefs were in synch. The result: long-term, enduring relationships, and no leaky buckets anywhere.

RELATED:

How to Sell Anything to Anybody – business.com


How To Deal With Negativity While Starting a Business

Originally Published on Aug 4, 2021

By Saaradha Kumar


There are ups and downs in business but fearing failures can stop you from taking your first step towards excellence. With pandemic on tow, aspiring entrepreneurs feel a little stuck when ideating a business prospect. Here, we give you some actionable tips to deal with negativity while starting a business, even during situations like a pandemic. We also took the liberty to throw in some amazing book recommendations that’ll help you enjoy the process of being positive and achieving your business goals.

10 Tips to deal with negativity while starting a business in a pandemic

1. Get a mentor

The first thing to do as a new business owner is to find the right kind of mentor. That person could be someone in your industry or in general who you look up to. The guidance must be apt for your business, and it should be a mutual responsibility of sharing knowledge. 

2. Two big R’s – Routine and Refresh

Made a mess of something? Try to reboot the situation and make it work. Take a break once in a while and refresh yourself if you feel stuck or your ideas feel mundane. Plan a routine and stick to them – both personal and professional. Having a routine can increase productivity and engage in more activities apart from your pre-planned schedule. 

3. Inculcate problem-solving mentality

Do not panic once you are thrown a problem. Arrange a meeting with the respective party, listen to both sides of the stories, and make a decision that is more realistic and feasible. 

4. Hire half and half

Whenever you hire someone for your business. Make sure that half of the people contradict your ideas, and the other half have the same mindset as yours. The people who contradict can bring in more valuable points and their perspective might take the discussion to a whole new level.  Don’t take too much time finding the perfect one. Hire an apt person who can have the right attitude. 

5. Network, Network, and Network

Find like-minded people and mingle with them. Be more sportive in the learning process. Listen more and talk less – if you are a beginner. You can only be a constructive person who gives input to someone if you have listened to everyone’s point of view. If you feel down, your network might have something to uplift your mood and change your perspective on something.

“Negativity, in general, is one of the things that holds people back, and you have to see what’s holding you back to get away from it.” – Lucy Dacus

6. Tech-savvy personnel

Learn a thing or two about the latest technology that you implement in your organization. Since the world revolves around technology, make sure your administrative authority knows as well.  

7. Don’t schedule a meeting, that could have been an email

Yes! I said it. Having unnecessary meetings will weaken the purpose of having a constructive discussion. Having back-to-back meetings drains the team members and yourself too. Always have a 10 to 15 minutes break between each meeting to feel refreshed and give your 100%. 

8. Have a pros and cons list

Always, I mean always have a pros and cons list. Let’s say one of your team members pitch an idea to improve the marketing strategies starting next month. Jot down the pros and cons before approving or rejecting it point-blank. It’s a systematic way of making a decision. 

9. Track your finances

Even if you have a team of accountants and auditors, make sure that you are present (both mentally and physically) – learn if you are not aware of it. Trusting your employees is a must, but not overseeing the records is a mistake that should be avoided.

10. Remember your “why?”

At some point in your hectic schedule or not having ME time can get to you. During those tough times – ask yourself – “Why am I doing this?”. If you can answer this question with a valid explanation, you’ll feel energized. Because “A purpose drives you”. 

5 Best books to read to be more positive as an entrepreneur

Reading always puts me into perspective. Therefore, I took some liberty to give a sample of positivity and determination through words. 

These are the 5 books that’ll guide you to be a more positive and successful entrepreneur. 

  1. Attitude is everything by Jeff Keller – The decisions you make, the routine you set for yourself, and the affirmations you say to yourself every day are going to make a huge difference. If you feel tired, hopeless, and quitting – then this book is for you to boost you up!
  2. Mindset: The new psychology of success by Carol Dweck – You do what you think. In this book, the author talks about two mindsets: The growth mindset and the fixed mindset and what they’ll do to you respectively. She helps you recognize your mindset and change it for the better. 
  3. Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen – This book is about technology uprisings all over the world and businesses that adopted and implemented technology in their firm. The author teaches you that just because your competitors and others are adopting something into their businesses doesn’t mean that you have to as well. Make an informed decision. 
  4. As A Man Thinketh by James Allen – This book specifically is about the power of thought and how it shapes your life into a more meaningful and fulfilling one.
  5. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle – The author talks about how people always keep thinking about what the future holds but then forget to live and enjoy the present. And also helps us understand how to make decisions more efficiently based on the present. 

Working towards inner balance requires consistency and perseverance. So does hard and smart work. Being negative is a part of our lives. It’s important to channel it appropriately and make things happen despite the roller coaster ride that is our lives. Hope you overcome your fears and negativity to shine bigger and brighter. Cheers! 

Saaradha Kumar is an enthusiastic writer and has immense love for books. She works as a Digital Marketer at RentALLScript. RentALLScript (the one who designed Wooberly, an Uber clone app) gives out creative web and mobile app solutions for entrepreneurs to enhance their business. 


Important Ways To Access Emergency Funding From The Government

How to Access $350 Billion in Emergency Funding From State and Local Governments

The Paycheck Protection Program may be over, but you can still get emergency funding. Just look closer to home.

 

How to Access $350 Billion in Emergency Funding From State and Local Governments

 

Originally Published on July 2nd, 2021 BY BRIT MORSE, ASSISTANT EDITOR, INC.@BRITNMORSE


Federal Covid-19 relief programs may be winding down or–in the case of the Paycheck Protection Program–over, but chances are, your business might still need aid.

Half of the country’s smallest businesses continue to struggle with the economic impacts of the pandemic, according to a June report by Yahoo Small Business. The survey also found that just 38 percent of microbusinesses–defined as those with fewer than five employees–received government support during the pandemic, with 85 percent saying they relied on community assistance to keep them afloat. 

If your company still needs financial support, consider tapping state and local small-business relief programs. Many of these programs were launched early in the pandemic, but they still have funds available. The American Rescue Plan Act, which President Biden signed into law on March 11, 2021, allocates $350 billion to states, localities, territories, and tribal governments to help eligible residents. Of that, $195.3 billion is going straight to the states.

According to the National League of Cities, an advocacy group for municipalities, the funds for local governments will remain available through December 31, 2026, but may only offset costs incurred by December 31, 2024. While states can elect to deploy the money in different ways, approximately 30 states, including Utah and Georgia, are using it to fuel small-business relief efforts, mostly in the form of loans or grants. Some states also offer to connect founders with resources or mentorship.

Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, a pub, and restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, was approved for a $10,000 grant through the state’s Bar and Restaurant Assistance Fund in November 2020 after the company was forced to lay off most of its 77-person staff. Co-founder Bob Szuter says the assistance program, which ended in January 2021, was not small change. “The total amount was not significant relative to the size of our business, but it certainly helped during a difficult period of 2020 when we did not know when and if there would be additional federal support,” says Szuter.

Different States, Different Rules

Every state and local program is unique–proffering different eligibility requirements, potential awards, and revenue-loss floors. Some programs require businesses to show certain revenue-loss thresholds or proof of having to close up shop. For example, businesses in Grand Junction, Colorado, can access up to $7,500 in grants but must demonstrate that the business was compelled to close or substantially limit operations because of the pandemic. New York awards grants based on an entity’s annual gross receipts for 2019, with a maximum of $50,000. Connecticut supplies one-time grants of $5,000 to businesses with fewer than 20 employees or a 2019 payroll of less than $1.5 million.

Other states offer both grant and low-interest loan programs–typically defined as loans with interest charges of less than 5 percent. Arizona’s Small Business Success Loan program offers loans of up to $75,000 with repayment terms ranging from six months to five years. Similarly, the Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund provides businesses with fewer than 50 workers and less than $3 million in revenue low-interest loans of up to $50,000. At least 50 percent of a loan’s proceeds have to be applied toward payroll or other eligible compensation, including salaries, wages, tips, paid leave, and group health care benefits.

No Assurances

While these programs may still have plenty of funds available–some don’t even have an application deadline–you’d better act fast. Many programs are accepting applications on a rolling basis until the funds are gone. That’s why it’s best to get your applications in as soon as possible, says Tom Sullivan, vice president of small-business policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been following state programs throughout the pandemic. But track them, he says. While all 50 states are due some portion of the funding from the Rescue Plan, the timing of the disbursements may be different in each state.  

To wit, the timing of the second tranche of funding provided to states through the Rescue Plan is contingent on the local unemployment rate. According to the Treasury Department, states that have experienced a net increase in the unemployment rate of more than 2 percentage points from February 2020 to the latest available date of certification will receive their full allocation of remaining funds in a single payment on or around May 2022. Other states will receive funds in two separate, equal tranches.

With that, some states, counties, and cities may choose to establish new programs in the near future, says Sullivan. Governments have to apply through Treasury, and those applications are getting processed now, he says. He recommends first getting in touch with your local chamber or local economic development center, as these institutions may be paying close attention to the deployment of funds. 

Before you contact a local department or apply for assistance, it’s crucial to have your financial documents in order, notes Sullivan. This includes annual or quarterly profit-and-loss statements and tax documents. “Every city and county is generally a little different,” says Sullivan, “but the folks who get their stuff in first generally get preference.”

Inc. helps entrepreneurs change the world. Get the advice you need to start, grow, and lead your business today. Subscribe here for unlimited access.

RELATED:

Paycheck Protection Program (sba.gov)

SBA Paycheck Protection Program Update: SBA Provides Guidance On Certification Of Need And Extends Safe Harbor For Repayment Of PPP Loans – Government, Public Sector – United States (mondaq.com)


How to Become a Leader

How to Become a Leader

10 Traits an Inspired Leader Must Have

Originally Published on Apr 10, 2021 ByMarie Barnes

Leading people is not an easy task. A thousand and one responsibilities fall on your shoulders. After all, leaders are the safeguard against chaos. They are the engine of a group. What defines a great leader? An upright stance and a proud poise? Intelligence and valiance? The will of steel and steadfast…

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If You Want to Be a Successful Entrepreneur, Take Note of These 7 Lessons

If You Want to Be a Successful Entrepreneur, Take Note of These 7 Lessons

While everyone seems to have a good business concept, few ever execute their ideas successfully.

By: Alejandro Saracho

One of the main objectives of creating a business is related to the generation of wealth: for the environment, for society, and for the business owner.

The generation of wealth is related to money and its correct management. Many entrepreneurs start their business as operators…

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How To Survive and Thrive During the Pandemic of Covid 19.

How To Survive and Thrive During the Pandemic of Covid 19.

 

Starting a Business from Home is the Only Way to Survive and Thrive During the Pandemic of Covid 19.

Dateline: Creve Coeur, MO. USA.

By: Jeffrey L. Klump 10/03/2020

The world is much different than it was just one year ago.

People have gotten use to the new vocabulary such as “social distancing” and wearing masks.

Regardless of what…

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How To Let Your Inner Leader Out

How To Let Your Inner Leader Out

The 5 Ways On How To Let Your Inner Leader Out

Dateline: September 10th, 2020

By: Ben Grant

For some reason, many people think that such words as “leadership” or “leadership qualities” refer only to extraordinary people. But these words are not as special as they might seem to many. What is more, every person has the potential to become a leader, the only thing you need to do…

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