Only a couple of generations ago those who worked in the corporate world had a job for life. But that world isn’t what it used to be and many small business owners have transitioned into consultants after suffering the tyranny of distance, becoming disillusioned or just wanting more flexibility and greater work-life balance.
That past experience may seem a world away but there are key skills which remain with us as small business owners. Take for example The Pitch. Back in Big Business Land it may have taken the form of a new client, a new product launch or a takeover. All normal work would stop while the department did everything in their power to win that contract and meet that deadline. We donned our best suit, the makeup and the attitude to sell our Corporate into this new business.
We did it with ease, we realized it was part of the job description, we relished the opportunity to “win the pitch”. So why do so many consultants find it hard selling themselves? It’s the same process: the suit, the makeup, the attitude, the deadline of the meeting – only the product has changed. And that’s where the difficulty lies. Many small business owners have trouble distancing themselves from their business since they are the business and they are the product. It’s a lot easier selling for someone else or a company we used to work for.
But we forget those pitch skills are gold and as small business owners we need to retain them and reshape them to sell ourselves, since now we are the new product.
So what’s the solution? Practice. Get out of your comfort zone and start working on your Pitch skills again. There are loads of networking groups around and plenty which will train you (and may charge you an arm and a leg) to pitch yourself to other businesses.
But another and more economical way you can practice is one-on-one meetings. It doesn’t have to be a potential client; just someone you got chatting to recently at one of those networking places. It can just be what I call a Small Business Colleague meeting over a coffee to talk about common issues or just get to know one another. A great starting point is your local Chamber of Commerce – the Hornsby Chamber has free networking lunches every month where you just pay for your lunch.
So brush up on those old skills and remember, every meeting is a pitch.
Alexi Boyd is a business owner and presenter of Small Biz Matters, Triple H 100.1FM, Tues 9AM. Check out www.smallbizmatters.com for podcasts and local networking opportunities. It’s the half hour radio program where you work ON your business rather than IN it.