How to MIND Your Business

How to MIND Your Business

Developing Sound Business Practices to Help You Become Successful and ProfitableDeveloping Sound Business Practices to Help You Become Successful and Profitable

An Article from one of the previous issues of Unique Access.  Subscribe today to get copies of upcoming issues with awesome reads such as this. Subscribe Now

When I listen to business professionals who are setting out to become entrepreneurs or expand their businesses as an entrepreneur, much of the language is the same on how to become profitable. I believe there’s multiple angles to things. There’s a saying that goes, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” Venturing out to become gainfully self-employed is no different. There are multiple approaches to getting to the end result. Many use the word “success” differently. I think I’ve shared in previous articles, that success is defined differently but I believe that there are only two main reasons, people decide to open a business and that’s (1) to make a change or a difference, and (2) to gain profits and increase their net worth.

In this article, I’m going to talk about how shifting your thoughts and how you think about success, as you define it, will aid in better results and help you to become more profitable. Years ago when I was an insurance agent, I always wondered what separated the high performers from the mediocre, or low performers. It certainly wasn’t age, gender, or ethnicity as I found that this varied across the board. What was also alarming was that the educational levels also varied and wasn’t the only determining factor to predict or determine one’s success. For purposes in which this article is written, I’m going to define success as “profitable.” You would think a degreed professional who has more years of education and professional training would yield better results. Not necessarily true! During my first month, I had an opportunity to spend an adequate amount of time with each agent in the company and what I discovered was alarming.

This job provided a modest salary but if one truly wanted to increase their earnings, they had to sell! The company had a range of products from life, health, and disability insurance products. There were many things that I learned but the 5 that stood out the most are as follows:

1. GET ORGANIZED – It’s very difficult in any aspect of business to maximize your true potential if you aren’t organized.  How one gets there may look different across the board, but overall, things must be in order.  Being an insurance sales agent is one of the few jobs that allows you to have all of the perks of being self-employed without all the risk.  With this particular company, agents would call clients based on leads given by the company.  They would set appointments to visit clients at their homes or business, and give them a scripted presentation with the intent of selling them insurance.  I watched various agents, and those who were the most successful, likely to close the deal and gain that client’s business were those who were organized.  They knew their presentations backwards and forwards, all of their enrollment forms were neatly organized in a binder, labeled, and they made sure they had everything they needed prior to walking in the client’s home or business.  Since their cars almost served as their mobile office, the more profiting agents had clean automobiles and their days were mapped out by a schedule.
2. TIME Management – The best agents exhibited excellent time management skills.  They arrived on time, sometimes early.  They scheduled appointments in similar areas to keep them from bouncing all over town wasting unnecessary gas and time.  Everything was built in their schedules, including their lunch break.  More successful agents packed a lunch and kept a cooler in their car with bottled water and other snacks and drinks.  They didn’t sit at restaurants for 1.5-2 hours engaging in long lavish lunch breaks on a daily basis.  If a client was a “no-show” they pulled out their cell phones to call on other potential clients to book more appointments and help fill any gaps for the remainder of that week or even begin booking for the following week.  They max-imized their time and used every moment building their business.
3. LISTEN, DON’T JUST HEAR – Every business has an element of service.  You’re either providing a product or a service.  Either way, it requires one to truly listen in order to gain better knowledge and understanding of what the customer/client wants.  This isn’t just from a customer prospective, but other business owners, family, or friends who want to give advice.  Sometimes as people, we think too much about what we want to say, or worst, predicting what others are going to say, and we aren’t truly listening.  We may hear what a person says, but if asked to repeat it, we can’t!  This means, you’re not listening.  When people are giving feedback about how we do business, take head and LISTEN.  Don’t become defensive.  Ultimately it’s your business and your choice to do what you want with the information, you can either apply the advice to the recommended areas, modify it to make it fit, or totally discard it.  Take notes so you don’t forget.  If conversations are getting a bit lengthly, tell them, “I really want to make sure I’m fully understanding everything you have to say, however my time is limited right now. Is it too much for me to ask you to email it to me?”  This of course only applies for business advice, not when engaging with a customer or client who has a concern. Those concerns need to be addressed immediately and if you aren’t able to provide a solution at the time, take note of what’s being said, repeat it back so that you both are clear on the goal, and follow-up. It costs you nothing but a little bit of time to LISTEN.
4. TAKE YOUR FEELINGS OUT OF IT – Don’t get so caught up in how YOU feel that you neglect to think about how current or potential clients will feel. Always remember that you need them and you have to show them why or how they need you or the goods or services you are providing.  Passion for a personal project comes with a lot of emotion.  Be able to diversify yourself and get into the heads of each and every one of your customers/clients.  The way you do this is by reaching out for constant feedback and adjusting accordingly based on the feedback you receive.  Always provide an opportunity to ask your clients or customers what they think.  You’ll learn a lot by doing this.
5. MIND THEIR BUSINESS AND YOUR’S – This is one time where it’s okay to mind the business of others as well as your own.  Often times, when running a business, we tend to think with our own pockets.  “If I can’t afford it, neither can they or I like it so they will like it also.”  There’s a saying that goes, “Just because the cheese is there, doesn’t mean the mice will come.”  This means that just because you like something or feel as though it’s a good thing, that others will feel the same way.  You have to know the audience you’re serving and look at things from multiple perspectives.  Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Does it solve a problem and provide a solution to a need?
2. Is it affordable, not just for me but for many?
3. Will it make their life easier?
4. Who else is providing this same good or service and what do’s and don’ts can I learn from them?
5. Is it a fad and if so, how will my business be able to adjust with the times
6. Can I afford to do this?
7. What or who do I need to make my dreams come true?
8. How long will it take to get things going and do I have the time to dedicate to it?
9. How will my family be impacted and are they on board with what I’m trying to do?
10. Do I enjoy this and does it make me happy?  Would I do it for free?
Overall, however you define your business and rate what success means to you, is up to you. The objective is to make sure you get out what you’re putting in and more. We all have a purpose, and your purpose should align with your business practices. Remember to keep a positive outlook and think about what you want and where you ultimately want to be, not where you are. If you have limited financial means, and you keep thinking about what you don’t have, you won’t have. Think BIG but be practical. Remember the scripture from Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” This comes with time and patience, but if you do the work, the rest will follow.
by Monica Jackson


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