I'm not responsible for everything.
When I started out in business with an eagerness to please my clients—no matter what—I put more stress on myself than I needed to. For instance, sometimes I would work on a project that required someone else to give me information before I could move forward. Unfortunately, they didn't always feel the same sense of responsibility to meet deadlines that I felt. That meant that they gave me what I needed to complete the project at the last minute, and then I had to work really late to get everything finished on time.
Over the years, I learned to set boundaries and to realize that I'm not responsible for other people outside of my organization running behind. Instead of stressing out and trying to pick up all the slack, I give clients regular progress reports and warn them if someone has not kept their agreement to deliver on time. I've found that in general clients are very understanding and that this strategy reduces overwhelm tremendously.
Packaging leads to success—or failure.
One of my biggest joys as an entrepreneur is that I have a ton of flexibility in my life and variety in my work. When I began my business, I actually preferred contract work that didn't tie me down on a long-term basis. I saw this as giving me more freedom.
But after almost six years of full-time entrepreneurship, I've found that offering "retainer" contracts where my company is paid on a monthly basis and larger three- to six-month programs is a huge key to success. When you have larger contracts, you even out your cash flow, reduce your sales and marketing time and build a long-term, value-packed relationship with your clients.
Sales is fun—really!
I've always enjoyed marketing: Strengths in networking and communicating have come naturally to me from the time I first started toddling around. However, I used to detest the thought of sales. I thought it was enough to tell people what I did and then they would know to hire me if they needed me.
Once I got into the time coaching business where I help people who have struggled with time management for years, I realized that marketing was not enough. I needed to know how to sell to get chronic procrastinators into a coaching program that would really transform their lives. I invested in sales training so I could learn the art and science of sales, and I found I loved it! Selling done well is providing the right people with the right solutions to overcome their challenges. Since I love empowering people to be successful, sales calls are now one of my greatest joys!
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E®, a time management life coaching and training company that empowers individuals who feel guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to accomplish more with peace and confidence through an exclusive Schedule MakeoverTM process.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.