Most successful people will tell you how their character, integrity, creativity or sheer talent helped them succeed. However, when you dig a little deeper, you will find this isn’t really true. 9 times out of 10 they succeeded through surviving. I love this statement, “Success is on the same road as failure, it is just a little further down the road.”


When I got into this industry, I had no one to help me understand the business, no one to make videos for me or post blog articles and no money to pay the bills. The first year held many surprises for me as I tried to learn what I was doing and keep the cash flow coming in. It was not easy, but I’m so glad I stuck with it!!! I didn’t do anything that much different than the average sales partner, I just kept going longer than they did.
 I recently sent an email to a new agent about how I survived the first year in this industry and I wanted to edit and share some of those thoughts with you today. There are a few things that will help you survive in this industry the first year and give you a strong foundation for success.
1. Work 40+ hours a week.
I know this seems so obvious, but I would be willing to bet that 95% of all sales partners who make less than $700 per week and have been doing this for at least 8 weeks do not work 40+ hours a week on prospecting and sales. If your financial situation seems to be a complete disaster, get up and go to work. If you are feeling depressed, get up and go to work. If you have a personal issue that you are thinking about non-stop, get up and go to work. Treat this business like a job your first year and it will pay you like a job. Treat it like a part time hobby and it will pay you like a part time hobby.


2. Make a realistic plan for your cash flow and take action on it.
If you are starting this business strapped for cash and plan to make it, you cannot build your budget or daily action plan on hopes. Make a worst case scenario of when you will actually get paid and be honest with whomever helps you manage the finances so there are no surprises.


If you see yourself making $400 next week and maybe $600 the next week, etc. then go ahead and decide right now, how you are going to deal with this and what actions must be taken. People that say, “Well I have to make $1,000 this week so that is my plan” are deceiving themselves and will never make it in business. It is easy to say, “I’ll probably bring in $1,000 this week” but when it comes to Friday and you are still waiting for that first $400 you will waste an entire day dealing with the stress and anxiety of financial surprise and last minute decisions that could have been made at the beginning of the week in half the time.


You will also leave your spouse or significant other wondering, “Is this whole business a mistake.” If you are up front and honest with yourself and others in your family and close circles about possible income you will free yourself to create a schedule and action plan that reflects reality. It was a good day for me, when I sat down with my wife and said, “Honey, we are not going to make much money for a while because I am trying to get this off the ground.” She was very supportive and appreciated the honesty. It was still not easy to make it the first year, but at least we knew it was going to be difficult and we communicated to family and friends that we would be broke and busy for a while.


3. Always think about the perception and situation of those around you.
When you get started in this business with no cash flow, it is easy to seem desperate to potential clients and processing partners. I completely understand the tendency to come across desperate for cash when the money is not coming, but it will be to your advantage to come across to clients and those with whom you work as if you have a steady income.


Clients can smell “desperate” on a sales professional and it makes them think, “If this person has no money, and they are in sales, they are probably terrible or brand new and I don’t want to do business with them.” The reality is, you are just trying to get your business off the ground, but you can understand their hesitancy when you come across desperate, so don’t do it. The fact that you haven’t made any sales yet this week is not your prospect’s problem and they shouldn’t be forced to make a decision any faster because you need the money.


4. Think long term to relieve short term stress.
Never stop learning and growing as a person even when you are just trying to survive. One of my secrets to survival is audio books and long term plans. I will take an hour lunch break on a really tough day and listen to a business book. Then, I will make a plan of how much money I will be making in 3 to 5 years. This helps me stay focused on the future because after all, chances are that in one year’s time, if you stick with this business, you will probably have somewhere to sleep, you will probably have food to eat, and the people who really care about you will still be a part of your life. With that in mind, determine that you are going to make it your first year in merchant services!




James Shepherd


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