Are You Open for Business?
I was talking with a prospective client the other day. I'll call her Alice (not her real name). I've known her for years, and we were talking because she is at a new beginning in her business. She's a brilliant businesswoman and has been quite successful in the past. Because of family events, she had to step out of her business for a while and now is ready to get back to work. As we got into our conversation, Alice revealed her main concern was that "everything has changed." Many of her contacts have been down-sized, right-sized, or “put out to pasture”, and her former network is no longer in a position to hire her for consulting work.. Because of the advent of Linked In and other social media outlets, this very bright and capable woman was thinking she didn't know how to get traction to get new work.
I asked Alice if she was open for business and went on to explain what I meant. You see, back in the day, when I worked as a reader in a large metaphysical bookstore in Atlanta, a particular healer would come to the bookstore about twice a year. He would never tell the bookstore staff that he was coming so they couldn't tell folks to make appointments with him for a healing session. Yet, within 2 hours of his arrival unannounced at the bookstore, his appointment slots for the weekend would be completely booked.
You see, he was Open for Business. Energetically he let his prospective clients know that he was ready to meet with them. They "got it", called the bookstore, and made their appointment. He was happy because his schedule was full, and his clients were happy because they received healing from him.
You may think you need a killer website, a snazzy business card, a great tagline, a dynamite 30 second introduction, and a million fans on Facebook to be open for business. I used to think that too.
But it's not true.
To be Open for Business, you have to be ready and willing to do your work with your ideal clients. And you have to put in the work to let them know that you are ready and open for business.
You have to do the inner work of taming the demons that tell you you're not ready yet ("gotta get another certification", "gotta make that website perfect", "gotta feel more confident" - you can fill in your own version of “demon talk”).
And you have to do the outer work of telling people what you do. It doesn't have to be perfect because when you tell people what you do, they will respond and help you hone your message so it communicates better. You have to get out there and talk to people. It's just that simple.
Recently, I talked to 7 chapters of my networking group, Women's Power Networking, in the Triangle area of NC. I presented a simple 10-minute talk and made an offer to receive my digital free gift. (If you haven't received it yet, you can get yours here.) I presented to 80 women with their own small business, stirred up great discussions about women and money, and loved every minute of it.
What a confidence boost!!! I saw that what I have to offer is of interest and importance to my ideal client - the woman entrepreneur with a service business. And I learned more specifics about what concerns my ideal client and that helps me serve them better.
I didn't learn any of that by sitting behind my computer working on my website. I didn't make the connections I made by using Linked In or Facebook. I made them face-to-face, in real time, with real people.
I didn't have a business card or a "real" website when I went out to talk to other women business owners. I did have a short talk, a point of view, and a free gift to offer. I made arrangements to get on the talk schedule of each of the chapters I visited. I showed up and gave my talk, answered questions, and listened to what the participants had to say.
I am open for business. Since giving my presentations, I have been talking to more prospective clients and getting business. I am able to serve more people doing what I'm great at.
So I asked Alice what she could do to show that she is open for business. She told me about 2 projects she’s passionate about getting off the ground. She said she could call a contact in an industry involved with one of the projects. I gave her a contact that could direct her to other people who could possibly help.
I heard from Alice the next day that she’s already making contact as she promised. I know that opportunities will open up for her from taking action. We can’t predict what will happen or who will want to work with her, but I can predict that good things will start to happen. Because Alice is open for business.
What can you do to show that you open for business and get your own momentum started?