What do we do now?
Bill McKay (Robert Redford) in the 1972 movie, The Candidate
I believe in self-employment. Every trend indicates that's from where the most growth and opportunity will come in the future.
People who try self-employment need to understand that money will not come in on a steady basis, the hours will be long, and they have to stay self-motivated.
For those who understand the risks, and appreciate the opportunity to go after their dreams and visions, self-employment is the way to go.
Self-employment is not usually about financing a start-up company and making the INC 500. It is often about making a living at something you enjoy.
Whether considering those of us with large and unlimited ambitions, or those who have a part-time gig on the weekends, the business success boils down to finding and retaining excellent customers, who, in turn, refer to you more customers like them.
In 1999, I went to Toronto several times to be part of the Strategic Coach program founded by Dan Sullivan. Dan is a coach to highly successful entrepreneurs. He has published many books.
Dan once said that all it took for anyone (entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs) to be successful is to:
1. Be on time
2. Finish what you start
3. Say "please" and "thank you"
Everything comes down to respect and appreciation of the people in your life.
Business people know that it is not the idea but the implementation that means success. You can immediately identify people who finish what they start: They have money in their pockets.
Saying "please" and "thank you" gets overlooked.
Success in life is about relationships. No one rises to the top by herself. Somewhere along the way, a family member, teacher, mentor, or friend helped a person get to a higher level. Those who get to the top of the mountain never forget that.
In his book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell talks about people he calls "connectors." Connectors go out of their way to refer people to other people. I'm that kind of guy. If I like a service, person, or product, I tell everyone about it.
How and why a person refers tells a lot about character. Often times, people will refer an idiot friend or brother-in-law for a job. They aren't interested in helping a person solve a problem; they are trying to steer income to a buddy. When I find a person like that, I won't ever refer him. I ultimately can't trust his judgment or motives.
When people get to the top and dominate their profession, they assume that potential customers will come to them because they are the best. Thus, they leave themselves vulnerable to someone who is developing relationships at other levels.
Mark McCormick, who founded the IMG sports marketing empire, gave a great example in his book, What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School. McCormick's first three clients were Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player, the three greatest golfers of that generation.
He naturally assumed all other golfers would come to him and he rested on his laurels. His lack of a "courtship" allowed competitors to spring up and pick off business.
McCormick and IMG figured out their mistake. McCormick died several years ago, but IMG continues to be one of the dominant sports marketing firms in the world.
Being on time, finishing what you start, and saying "please" and "thank you" are the foundation of any successful business.