Need a Pep Talk?

need-pep-talkIn speaking with a variety of entrepreneurs on a daily basis, I’ve noticed a surprising theme: a lack of confidence.

From sales to management, there is always something we feel we can do better. And for those just launching their own business, hearing ‘no’ or dealing with mishaps can take an even bigger toll on your self-esteem. You learn very quickly that working for yourself is an emotional roller coaster, to say the least.

Ironically, when I first started my PR firm fifteen media, I was filled with self-assurance (or more like arrogance). I thought it would be a piece of cake to build my own business.

As I started to get more clients, my overinflated ego would soon deflate. A combination of dealing with not-so-happy clients and constant rejection from the press, made it hard to maintain confidence in my company. To this day, it can still be a challenge to unwaveringly believe in my abilities.

So while I know the difficulty first hand, I also know what a little burst of confidence can do. Here are some tips for giving your self esteem a boost:

Don’t wallow. A few months ago, a client decided to let me go before my contract was up. Despite all my best efforts, I just wasn’t getting them the results they wanted. It caused me to have a full-on emotional breakdown, and it made me question if I was a good publicist.

From that experience, I learned that if I was going to persevere on, I had to get over these scenarios. I have established a one-hour pity party rule, meaning when things don’t go my way, I only have one hour to dwell on it and then it’s back to business.

When you start to feel sorry for yourself, channel positive energy into your startup — focusing on your other clients, customers, products or what have you.

Seek feedback. I realize asking people to critique you can be scary. However, the only way to create the best business you can is to constantly use feedback to improve. I try to periodically check in with my clients to see how they are feeling about my services.

As an entrepreneur, if you do this often, you help to nip problems in the bud, before they become crises. Also, if you are asking for feedback, it won’t all be negative. Nothing is a better confidence booster than hearing the things you are doing well.

Learn how to cut your losses. The greatest strengths of an entrepreneur are determination and persistence, yet, these qualities can also be her biggest weaknesses. Sometimes you just have to learn how to let go.

There will be times when you have to make the decision to part ways with a client or a vendor. If you two don’t have a synchronized vision or every small detail is an uphill battle, it might be in your interest to say goodbye.

A rocky relationship, centered on all the things you are doing wrong, can be very taxing to your ego. To propel a business forward, you don’t need constant negative energy.

Build a support system. Being an entrepreneur can be an isolating experience, and it is easy to become your own worst enemy. Sometimes, I find myself sitting around obsessing over all the things that aren’t quite right. Why isn’t my company growing faster? Will client X rehire me again? Why can’t I get more placements?

Negative thoughts can be very time consuming and detrimental to your vision, so it’s essential to surround yourself with positive people to snap you back to reality. Having a support system to lean on will make you realize there is a world out there beyond your business, which is essential for your mental health.

As an entrepreneur, confidence is your best asset and will be a critical component to building a successful business. However, it can be hard to maintain confidence when you are constantly dealing with rejection. I never used to believe it when people told me that entrepreneurial confidence comes along with time. Once you have seen your business prove itself, you will see the light. In the meantime, fake it until you make it. -Rebekah Epstein is the founder of fifteen media, an agency that works exclusively with PR firms to streamline media relations in a digital era. -Rebekah Epstein is the founder of fifteen media, an agency that works exclusively with PR firms to streamline media relations in a digital era. – Rebekah Epstein

How do you build up your confidence? Let us know in the comment section below.

 

 

What It Takes to Be a Boss Every Employee Loves

takes-boss-everyone-loves, leadership, relationships, behavior

Being a successful leader means being good at what you do and possessing integrity. But more than anything, it’s about your ability to build healthy relationships with others — particularly those who work for you.

As an entrepreneur, you’re viewed differently than you were when you were a manager or colleague in a traditional job. You stand to gain the most from the company’s success, and it is easier for your employees to think you’re more interested in the business than them and their lives. Your success is paramount, but it shouldn’t be achieved at the expense of healthy relationships with those you depend on.

1. Don’t treat people as transactions.
Years ago in my first real job out of college, I was delighted to have my very own assistant. She was a very capable and competent woman who I really liked. One day while a client was visiting the office, I made the naïve mistake of introducing my assistant by saying, “This is Teri. She works for me.” Teri’s response would have served me better in private, but her point was valid none-the-less: “I work with you, Mark, not for you.”

I meant no ill respect with my choice of words, but it suggested to Teri that she was a means to an end, that I was “above” her. And while technically she did report to me, the difference between working for and with someone is critical. The former can make a person feel conquered, while the latter signals collaboration.

Think through how you title and refer to your employees. Focus on reciprocity: look for ways you can help them achieve their work-life goals while they help you achieve yours. And guard against letting tasks trump a true regard and appreciation for the relationship you have with those who have voluntarily chosen to work with you.

2. Invest in those you value.
The ultimate test of value in a relationship is how much time, interest and support you are willing to invest. Rather than ask, “What have you done for me lately?” turn the tables and ask yourself what you’ve done lately for those you truly value.

Here’s one way to invest for great dividends: identify the potential in an employee that he or she doesn’t recognize in him- or herself. Often people are blind to their own abilities or potential, and good leaders not only recognize these latent strengths, they help develop them.

Several years ago, my office manager was spending more time on our website and technology platforms. A colleague was presenting a multi-day event in Las Vegas that I knew would give my team member information and skills to help her in these areas. Going to Las Vegas for the event was an added perk, so I gladly paid for the seminar and trip. She came back better equipped for her work, knowing I was willing to invest in her success.

3. Be involved, but know your limits.

You can work in the same office space with people every day and still be absent because you are preoccupied with your own worries. An open door policy means nothing if you don’t stop what you’re doing long enough to give your attention to those who walk through it.

How can you do this? Make it a point to “check in” with every employee each day. That means a simple but sincere question: “How are things going?” Listen and if necessary, probe for information you can use to support your employees. Identify frustrations they are facing, opportunities they’ve recognized and gauge their emotional energy and commitment to their work.

You’ll know you’re micromanaging when you’re spending more time telling someone how to do something than you are in clarifying what needs to be done. A thorough explanation with a chance to ask questions is vastly different than a droning presentation about how you’d do it. Give people the freedom to achieve the best results in their own way.

4. Show your gratitude.
I’ve heard a lot of complaints from employees who feel underappreciated by their manager, but I’ve never heard anyone complain they were recognized, rewarded or appreciated too much. I’m puzzled at why so many entrepreneurs and leaders are reticent to voice appreciation. Don’t be afraid of over-doing it. You connect with people more deeply when you recognize the best in them and let them know.

Here’s a powerful way to show appreciation: When you get feedback from a customer about someone on your team who has done a great job, get their permission to record it. Then play the recording at the next team meeting. There is even more power in a customer’s expression of a job well done than simply acknowledging it yourself.

Growing your business successfully means doing all that you can to make your team want to work their hardest for your cause. That means connecting with employees in a meaningful way.

By Mark Sanborn  an author, speaker and president of Sanborn & Associates Inc., a leadership development firm based in Lonetree, Colo.

What do you do to deepen your connections with employees?

The Popular Advice That Could Kill Your Business

Career-Advice-Featured, Small Business, Planning
Run, don’t walk, away from these all-too-common words of advice.
Small-business owners get unsolicited advice everyday. Some of it can be very helpful, some of it is better off ignored. If you hear any of the “words of wisdom” listed below, our advice to you is to smile, say thank you, and move on.
Good things come to those who wait.
If you follow this advice, you may be waiting a very long time for success.
Better advice: Small-business owners need to be aggressive and go out and grab opportunities as they happen. You are responsible for initiating your success.

Failure is not an option.
Unfortunately, it is the most likely outcome in any small business venture.
Better advice: Accept failure, learn what you can, let go of it, and look for another opportunity to succeed.

Do what you love and the money will follow.
In the ideal world, this would always be true.
Better advice: The money will follow if you find something you are passionate aboutand you’re selling a product or service your customers need or want.

The customer is always right.
If the customer was always right then it would be too expensive for any company to stay in business.
Better advice: Listen to the customer’s concerns and show empathy in proposing solutions to their problems.

Think outside the box.
Sometimes ideas so far outside the box will make a small-business owner go broke because customers won’t pay for it.
Better advice: Look inside the box for constant problems customers still pay to solve.

Never give up.
This hard fast rule can lead to bankruptcy. Don’t go down with the ship!
Better advice: Follow Kenny Rogers’ advice and “know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em”.  Successful entrepreneurs know when it’s time to close down their business and look for a new start.

If you are not hiring, you are not growing.
Successful businesses are not measured in the number of employees, but in the profit (cash flow) they generate for their owners.
Better advice: Get the right resources (employees, freelancers, vendors) to get the job done most effectively.

Separate out your business and personal life.
In the world of the Internet-enabled smartphone, it is nearly impossible to separate these two worlds. Better advice: Merge your business and personal aspects into one happy life. But establish business free zones (like the gym, dinner table, bedroom or vacation) so you are able to recharge.

Never leave money on the table. This strategy is greedy and shows short term thinking. It can also blind the small-business owner to additional objectives, or big-picture thinking and planning.
Better advice: Emphasize long term relationships so annuities with vendors and customers can be built to maximize their lifetime value.

Always be innovating.
While it is important to evolve and change with the market, innovation should not be done for its own sake.
Better advice: Consistently ask customers and survey competitors on new ways to solve problems.

If you want it done right, do it yourself.
If you follow this strategy, you will always be working. You will have built a job, but not a company.
Better advice: Find leverage in your business by training employees to do tasks that will leverage your time. Later, bring in a team that is better at these tasks than you are.

If you build a great product (or service), customers will come.
While this may work in the movies, it never is effective in business. If your product can’t get found, it will never be chosen.
Better advice:  Set up a consistent system of sales and marketing so customers can find your product when they are looking.

Business is about taking big risks.
This is a surefire way to go out of business and never have the financial resources to recover.
Better advice: Take small risks and analyze the results. Business is ultimately a series of small decisions and incremental steps.

Don’t quit your day job.
Many entrepreneurs are told to keep their start up as a hobby and don’t risk doing it full time.
Better advice: When you have enough customers to support your minimum overhead, jump to doing the business on an exclusive basis. Only with complete focus will you be able to grow the business to its full potential.

Everything is fair in business.
You will be surprised what people have the audacity to do in business, and no not everything is “fair” in business, and what may be considered “fair”, it isn’t always right.
Better advice: Think about the code of conduct with which you want to conduct your business. Train your staff to stick to it.

You can’t change the world.
You are told you will never have enough resources to really make a difference.
Better advice: You actually can change the world. As a small-business owner, focus on doing it one customer at a time.

You must first write a detailed business plan.
Business plans are totally overrated. They typically are a series of assumptions that never come true.
Better advice: After writing the initial business plan, get customers to validate assumptions or help morph to a more profitable path.

Business is about having a great idea.
Many entrepreneurs think they have to protect their innovative idea or sometimes even want to sell it.
Better advice: Business ideas are meaningless if you can’t back it up. Success is really about taking action and finding the right team to work with to build a company.

Quit while you are ahead.
This is a fearful and fatalistic approach to business.
Better advice: Find out how you can build on the success that you have already achieved that can minimize some of your risks going forward. If you feel comfortable, take some money out of the business as financial insurance.

You have to spend money to make money.
Many vendors say you have to invest a lot of money to build a business.
Better advice: Having too much money will make you frivolous with it. Most businesses are started with less than $10,000. As a small-business owner, it’s your money so be cheap. Only spend money on things that are testable, trackable and repeatable.    —-Barry Moltz