I wear many hats. I am an author, freelance writer, communications consultant and speaker. That’s a mouthful, even for me. A friend recently asked me, “So Carolyn, you’ve been in business for a few years, would you say that you are making traction/progress? What has been the feedback from your work?”
It’s funny that he should ask what is the feedback and not how many clients you have or how much money you make, because many people measure progress by profits. Others by visibility. And yet others by customer satisfaction, repeat business and the results your clients get from your work.
I believe all 3 holds the key to long term success and sustainability, but if I had to choose just one, it would be results.
Here are some indicators of progress that I have learnt from my experience:
1. How people respond to you as an entrepreneur
Whether you choose to market your products and services online via social media, face-to-face, or over the phone; you must be able to determine what works best for your particular brand.
If people ignore your messages, give you false promises or run the other way when they see you or when you open your mouth; either something is wrong with your approach, or you are approaching the wrong people. The important thing is learning the lessons and knowing when to move on and where to find the customers that really need and value what you have to offer.
You can build a relationship over time and get to know your potential and existing customers by adding meaning to their lives (via blogs, newsletters, the occasional call/message or coffee date), so they will feel valued and know that you are not just using them to fatten your account or promote your own agendas. Most times, perceptive people can see right through this veneer.
You will gain customers’ loyalty when people feel connected to your brand and your message, as they sense that you truly love what you do (and would do it anyway) and have an urgent desire to genuinely connect your passion and purpose to their life so it can benefit them.
If they are still not interested in what you’re selling, either they do not place a value on your product/service, or it’s just not a priority for them (at this point in time). Something could be wrong with the way you have packaged it, or they just don’t see you as a subject matter expert that they would buy from.
And there’s nothing you can do that will ever change that, so there’s no need to prove yourself. Just be confident in your work and it will radiate on the outside, as your ideal customer will always find you and patronize you.
2. Your visibility matters to the people that care
Not everyone likes to be in the lime light, but to be in business you have to take that risk. Risk being seen. Risk being laughed at. Risk being pointed/called out. Risk being said no to. Risk being embarrassed. Risk failing.
If only 10 friends, your pet cat Felix and a cousin far removed has ever heard of you or seen your work, then you’re fighting a losing battle. Pack up shop and go home. Now.
If you want to extend your reach however, you can have a [trade] show, take part in an expo, plan a killer product/book launch, contribute your knowledge to a publication, get featured in a magazine, go on radio and TV, create a business page on social media, join supportive networking groups/forums online or in real life, create a blog, website or You Tube channel, create a LinkedIn profile. JUMP.
I was petrified of ‘dead air’ for many years and refused to go on radio and TV when I launched my first book Thinking out Loud in 2011, and now I have been on every television station and morning show in my hometown and I plan to do more radio as well.
As an author and speaker, over the years apart from contributing articles, I have been featured in all the local daily and weekly newspapers and even appeared once in a regional newspaper.
Am I well known? Maybe not, but it’s how you assign value to these things and how you use it to your advantage and knowledge base. In all things, leverage your achievements and assign value by measuring quality over quantity. And remember sometimes the most significant milestones in business happen behind closed doors.
Success is not measured by the number of ‘friends’, followers, ‘fans’, ‘likes’, ‘hearts’ and comments that you receive on social media, but by meaningful connections and engagements that may happen offline and translate to sales. You will then discover that the ‘right’ people will always find you and remember you for the value you brought to their experience and their situation.
Even if they don’t reach out and tell you right away, one day you may be walking down the street or run into them at the supermarket and they will tell you exactly how they feel and more importantly - how you made them feel by sharing your passion and purpose for life. (This is a true story that has happened to me several times.)
3. The proof is in the pudding!
Different people measure success and progress in different ways, but for me it is measured by knowing that I am consistently making a difference in people’s lives with each article or blog I write, every audience I address and almost every person I come into contact with who has told me I have impacted their life in a positive way.
It is an amazing and fulfilling feeling when you have met people only once, sometimes from different parts of the world and they become instant friends and even repeat clients. When you show people the real you (flaws and all) and they still regard you with respect and admiration.
Things like this trumps any material thing I have ever bought for myself or craved in life. When I bring people’s work or dreams to life in a practical and vivid way that elicits tears, smiles, laughter and inspiration and they get (added) visibility or business as a result of it, I am humbled by and grateful for my God given gifts.
It is because of this that I know more success and all the desires of my heart are on my doorstep.
Some days you may doubt yourself, or even question your life purpose. You may question why certain things in life did not work out the way you would have liked; but acceptance, humility and gratitude will allow for healing and closure and open the door for the right people/customers and situations.
Carolyn K. Correia is the author of Thinking out Loud, How To Find Yourself and Claim What’s Yours and She missed the boat on love. She is also a communications consultant, freelance writer, blogger and motivational speaker. Learn more here www.carolyncorreia.com or connect on Facebook – CarolynCorreiaAuthor.