Despite having always dreamed of owning my own business, I got a job after college. I was told that the best thing to do, so that is what I did. I worked in corporate America for three years and became a top sales-producer for a publicly traded telecommunications company, but I never gave up on that dream of one day becoming an entrepreneur.
So fascinated was I with this desire, that it was all I thought about and worked on during my free time. Then, one day, it was staying at my corporate job — not starting a business — that became the real risk. I didn’t want to imagine what my life would be like stuck at this corporate job, never knowing if my business could have been a success.
When starting my own sales training company, the biggest challenge I faced was getting used to not having a paycheck every other week, and having to generate my own income by closing deals. I had no certainty of where and when that next money was going to come it. It was up to me to make things happen.
This was scary and exciting at the same time. I could run my business the way I wanted and do business with the people I wanted to. But again, I had to close those deals. I was no stranger to closing deals, but I didn’t have a base salary to relax on like I did as an employee. I had to make each day as productive and effective as possible. It didn’t matter how many people I talked to or how nice my business cards looked. If I didn’t close deals, I didn’t eat.
That meant I had to turn on my prospecting funnel by creating a system for following up with the people I had been cold calling. I began calling everyone I knew and telling them about my business. I went to networking events and established a presence on social media. I read every book I could on my industry and began implementing all the strategies I learned. And, perhaps most importantly, I never gave up on my follow-ups. Soon enough, I was talking to prospects and making presentations.
That brought me to my second challenge: Who was I and why should people pay me to train their sales force? I had to prove myself in an overcrowded marketplace, with competition that had been around since before I was born. To say this was intimidating was an understatement. Not so long ago I was looking up to these companies and reading about them in the news. Now, I was competing against them.
There were times when questioned my own value and even backed down against competitive proposals. But I knew that I offered the best sales training course and personalized service, so I exploited that fact, along as well as other areas of weakness among my competitors.
It took me a couple of years to build a reputation in the industry, but it was my ability to deliver results that caused people to have faith in me. Soon I was winning accounts because people were buying me — and what I could deliver — it didn’t matter anymore that no one had heard of me. I landed Fortune 500 clients, some of which, I had been a fan and customer of.
My reputation enabled me to build a referral network. Now my business is 100 percent referral based and I do not have to cold call anymore. Even though starting my business was difficult at first and I didn’t know how I was going to make money, it was the best decision of my life. I am no longer in the rat race and can work from anywhere, with anyone and any time I want. Everyone can become a successful entrepreneur, you just have to take the first step.