This month I’m celebrating 18 years as an entrepreneur! I started my first business when I was 19, a promotional products company that imprints company logos in things like calendars, pens, mugs and t-shirts. While it’s a small portion of my annual revenue (with speaking and consulting taking center stage), it’s still running and has run “in the black” every year since it’s inception.
Doodads has been my “training gym”, if you will. It’s the place I made a lot of mistakes, had a lot of wins and I have been able to apply what I’ve learned to Startup Princess, to my professional speaking career and to the other small business owners I consult every year.
Here are the three things that have made all the difference in my businesses over the years.
1. RELATIONSHIPS MATTER. In a digital world, its still about networking and connecting. For my promotional products company 95% of my business each year comes from repeat customers or referrals from those repeat customers. That number is the same in my speaking business. You want to build the kind of relationships with clients, vendors and business professionals that help you grow your business year after year. Schedule time to build relationships, attend networking events, and to make sure your current customers know that you value them. Do you have a system in place for client retention? Do you have a strategy for networking events? Connecting with clients, connecting with other entrepreneurs and also connecting with leaders who have gone before who can mentor you to the next stage of your business – all of these relationships are critical.
2. A principle I call PLASTICITY. Plasticity is the process or art of being moldable. The willingness to take information and coaching so that you can reach new levels in your business. I’m a book junkie and a live event junkie – I always want to be at the top of my game, the top of my personal development and top of my industry, so I invest in knowledge every year. I also invest in a coach or mentor. Though I may be a coach myself, I always want to be leading in my industry, and I want to have the latest in education, accountability and growth in my business.
3. MARKETING CHANGES – Keep Up. As much as I wish the marketing plans and tools I used 18 years ago worked today – they don’t. Back then, Social Media didn’t exist (I’m not that old!) and websites were still just in development (and about $20,000!). I’m grateful for successes and advancements in the marketing landscape, but here’s the thing, trends change every year. There are new ways to connect with clients, while balancing traditional outlets that still provide value. It’s like a dance, keep some of the classic moves, but you need to add in something new so you don’t look like you’ve only learned the waltz.
Sure, I could go on and on about needing consistent graphics and branding; hiring good people and keeping them; making sure your profit and loss statements make sense and aren’t ignored…I believe in these things, too. But what I know is whether you’ve been in business for 18 months or 18 years, what’s KEY is keeping your business and your life in a state of growth and development. Keep learning, keep growing and keep applying what you learn for greatest success. I do that with the help of a good friend, Tiffany Peterson, who has been a paid mentor of mine, turn good friend. She was also one of our Startup Princess Fairy Godmothers! Every year she produces a powerful event that addresses these three KEY small business and sales principles and I’m grateful to be included in the speaker line up for the fourth year! I’ll be talking about the tweaks your marketing strategy needs to stay relevant in your industry and to stay effective as you share your message with new faces for new revenue.
Elevation meets the needs of building quality relationships, growing and learning, and keeping up on the latest in marketing strategy. What I love is the way Tiffany takes you through personal development AND business development and shows you how our mind is interconnected with my results. I loved reading about success long before I ever started reading about business, and I can tell you that both are critical to making your business thrive.
If you can join us and other entrepreneurs from all over the country and throughout the world, register here.
If you can’t join us – we’ll miss you, but the challenge is the same. What can you do in the next three months to improve your business relationships, to grow in your industry and to improve in your marketing? Make sure these goals are at the forefront of your mind and you’ll be able to grow and uplevel your business (and your life)!