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5 Tips to Survive On Your Own in Sales and Business

One unfortunate side effect of success is that many people who experience it try to “white wash” their past and hide the difficulties that they experienced in order to achieve their goals. This causes the next generation of independent business people to feel like it is easy to succeed or that if they do experience […]

One unfortunate side effect of success is that many people who experience it try to “white wash” their past and hide the difficulties that they experienced in order to achieve their goals.  This causes the next generation of independent business people to feel like it is easy to succeed or that if they do experience difficulties it must be proof that they do not have what it takes.  This is a two-edged sword as a person will start by thinking, “I am sure I can succeed without much difficulty if I just had some money or if I just had some better connections, etc.”  Then, once they do start working towards success they think, “This is really difficult, I must not be very good at business.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.  I have personally worked with dozens of highly successful people and the huge majority faced and overcame difficulties, set backs and even total failure.  The key to success is…

Survival.  You just need to outlast everyone else in order to succeed.  Probably the greatest struggle during this “survival” time is managing your cash flow.  When I started selling merchant services, I had just experienced a huge business failure that left me broke and behind on my bills so I was not just starting from scratch, I was starting in a hole, hoping to get back to scratch!  Here are my top 5 cash flow management tips to help you survive and thrive as an independent business professional.

#5 – Make a plan and revise your plan.  (It is never too late, or too bad to make a plan.)

Don’t get caught in the trap of just ignoring all your problems, face them and make a plan so you don’t have to make the really tough decisions in a hurry.  Deciding to pay a bill or vendor late is not a fun decision, but it is much better if you make this decision ahead of time as you face the reality of your situation.  Many people simply cannot bare to consciously make a decision to pay something late, so instead, they wait until the decision is made for them.  This leaves them feeling guilty and leaves the person who is owed the money upset.

#4 – Identify those effected by your plan and communicate with them.  

First of all, let me say that I have struggled with this one as everyone does and I have not always followed this rule.  In the podcast episode, I tell a story about how I fell a couple months behind on my rent and I had to go to my landlord and “sell” him on the idea of not evicting me!  This is a tough sell for sure, but the fact that I was in constant communication with him and had kept him in the loop on my business plans really helped me. To this day, even though I no longer rent from him, we have a good relationship and he would give me a recommendation because I always kept him informed and I got caught up on my rent as quickly as I possibly could.

Your family is going to be profoundly impacted by your decision to go out on your own.  Don’t kid yourself, you are going to experience some tough times in business just like everyone else.  It is not fair to let these tough times sneak up on your family without giving them some warning and making a few cut backs before they are necessary.  I have learned over time that the most expensive financial problems are the ones you try to hide.  Bring everything out in the open, discuss the reality of your situation and let everyone involved have a say in your cash flow management decisions.

By the way, let me tell you another little secret of the “survival mode.”  The decisions you make will not always make sense to others and that is okay.  In fact, some people will probably think you are bordering on dishonest when you make certain decisions.  Surviving in business is incredibly tough for you and your loved ones but if and when you do make it, it is very rewarding for your family and even your vendors.   Because of this, there were many times that I chose to take my wife on an inexpensive date even though I knew that doing this meant I paid my electric bill a couple weeks late.  There were some times where I stopped to get myself a snack as a reward after making a sale even though we didn’t have money to spare. I was basically spending rent money on a candy bar or soda.  I did this because I knew if I didn’t occasionally try to feel like we had a normal life, neither I nor my wife could have made it in business.  The strain would have been too great and we would have quit.

Now that we have achieved a small level of success, I look back at those times and rather than white washing them and telling you that I always paid all the bills on time, I want to share the reality of success with you.  It is very difficult and many times you must make tough choices. These choices are long term in nature but will cause some people to be upset in the short term.  Communication is the key to making it through this time.  Think about those around you and think about yourself and make sure you have set yourself up to survive.

#3 – Maintain self esteem and self respect.

You are starting a business from scratch and since most people can’t even imagine doing this, they understand and expect that you are going to have some difficulties.  In fact, many of them have probably told you, “You should not try this.”  So, use that to your advantage in cash flow management.  Don’t tell people that you are doing terrible and you are broke, etc.  Instead tell them, “I am so excited about my business, we are really seeing some signs of improvement and I know that a year from now we are going to be doing so much better.  Right now, our cash flow is really tight so I do need to ask for a little more time to pay this invoice but we are going to make this thing work and I will not forget that you were my friend during this time.”  Sales people know how to sell prospects but if you want to be successful on your own, you also have to sell those around you on your own potential and the potential of the business you are starting.  If people believe in you, they will give you some rope in the area of payments which will help your cash flow management in a big way!

#2 – Learn the survival skill by confronting the ugly truth and staying positive.

The survival skill in business is hard to quantify but it’s effects are so obvious.  It is a rare person who has the realism to confront his or her bad situation while at the same time compartmentalizing this part of their life when they go out and build their business so that they appear positive and on top of the world.  No one wants to hire someone or buy from someone who is depressed and “Needs the money”. This only shows that you are inexperienced and may not be very good at what you are doing so why should they buy from you?  Instead, project confidence in yourself and your ability.

#1 – Sell your problems away.

No matter what business you are in, sales can cure almost all of your problems.  As long as you are doing something that is, at its core profitable, you can solve just about any problem you have through selling!  Make sales!!!!  The first three tips I provided are very important because they help you put your cash flow management problems into a well organized box in your mind, so you can focus your attention on bringing in income.  Rather than sitting on the couch for 3 or 4 hours depressed about your cash flow, spend that 3 or 4 hours making a sale so you can get the income you need to fix the problem about which you are depressed.

I have tried to be as honest as possible in this blog post because I sincerely want you to succeed and I want you to have a realistic view of what it takes to succeed.  I hope this short article will motivate you to get out there and make some income while at the same time facing the reality of your business situation.


James Shepherd

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