Mine started early.
“Can this room be my office?” That’s the question I asked my grandmother as we were moving out of our old house and into the new one. I was around 10 years old. We lived in a tiny Georgia town called Bartow.
My grandfather was a builder and up until that time we were a family of seven living in a two-bedroom boxed house—but it was time to move. Wooohooo! Dad (we called him) had finished building our house—and it was right next door. Even with the excitement and wear and tear of moving, I had my eyes on my uncle’s old room—and I simply wanted to know if that could be my office.
My grandmother stopped and stared at me, asking me, “What do you need an office for?” I had to think really fast because it seemed like she might be entertaining the idea. I quickly said, “To do my homework.” She shrugged me off and kept on working.
Now, I didn’t run out and start my business that day, but as I look back I can see that the seed of business was in me. As I grew, it really didn’t matter if I worked in my office or someone else’s because the world of business (in my mind) was my destiny—and I just needed to find my place.
Every job that I held (even my first job at Burger King) confirmed my desire and destiny to be in the world of business. Then the day came when I was downsized; that, as unpredictable as it was, marked my time to fully become an entrepreneur. Who knew I’d settle into New Jersey as a Virtual Business Coach to businesses around the world?
The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.
Marketing your counseling practice is your next order of business now that you are officially done with school, but before you start marketing you have a few decisions to make. Will you practice as a general counselor? Will you have a specialty or two? Have you even decided yet?
Back when I first started my marketing practice as a virtual business coach, my mentor told me to practice as a generalist and market as a specialist. This advice worked well for me because I was not ready to choose one niche to focus on but I did have a few industries that I knew I would do well in.
So my advice is to figure out what appeals to you. Are you ready to choose or would you rather it unfold as you go? It’s up to you. For me, it was best to open up my doors and start marketing my services to businesses that I could relate my services to.
Either way you go, you will need to market yourself as a specialist. I used my marketing skill as my specialty versus claiming a niche market.
Assess your current marketing situation.
Do you have business cards? A website? A brochure? A positioning statement? Are you set up to market online? These are the things you need to answer. What will your primary marketing strategy be? What will your secondary marketing strategy be? What marketing skills do you currently have? Do you have any experience with putting yourself out there?
Do you need a website to start marketing your business?
Contrary to what most digital marketers will tell you, you do not. You can start getting customers without having a website. People were in business long before the internet came around. Having said that, I will say that a website is a business essential that you will eventually need. Still, not having one shouldn’t stop you from putting yourself out there for your ideal customers.
You should start thinking about and setting aside funds for your website—even if it’s a one-pager.
Understanding who your customers are, what services you will provide and how you will provide them will help the website-building process.
Do you value your services?
Ask anyone in sales and they will tell you that it is much easier to sell a service or product that they believe in as opposed to one they do not. Some will even say that they just can’t sell anything that they don’t have full confidence in. You want to make sure to anchor your belief in what you have to offer. Otherwise, you will not value it—and if you don’t value your services, that might be reflected in your income-earning potential.
The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.
The world is so unpredictable that you’d better be ready to own your skills no matter what happens within the economy or a company you work for. Some companies have bad business models, and in many cases there’s nothing you can do about that, but let me tell you that one of the worst things you can experience is being told that you are no longer needed for the job that you were hired for.
I get it, everyone is not made for entrepreneurship, but acting like an entrepreneur even while you are employed for someone else could serve you well. There is a term for that: Intrapreneurship. Intrapreneurship is the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organization.
Here are a few to-dos to help you do that:
- Visualize yourself as a company – with departments, goals, bottom lines, branding. Who are you? What do you specialize in? What are your goals? This could all be in the context of your current position, and if you’re a consultant this is crucial to your existence.
- Know what you bring to the table – you need to have a firm handle on what you bring to the table. What do people count on from you? What comes really easy for you? Do you know?
- Diversify your skills – what skills are a good and natural fit to your current skills? I am not talking about every certification under the sun. There is a certification for just about everything—for this, that and everything—but there are skills that could complement your current skills. Make a list and see what you’re naturally drawn to. For instance, a web developer could add project management or technical writer or SEO to their skills bank.
- Commit yourself to your projects/employer – as if you owned the company, but be ready to move on to the next project/company when the time comes. In other words, put the work in. Take pride in your output. For some companies it’s no wonder they go out of business when you look at the service and attitude of the employees. Employees may think they’re getting over – until the pink slips come.
You will continue to grow and re-invent yourself. So if you don’t have one yet, you will need to create a “Me Incorporated” portfolio or binder to build your brand and create a clear picture of what you have to offer.
All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.
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April is quick. She intuitively gets me and where I am going with things; sees the potential in my ideas and cranks up my excitement level as she shares her enthusiasm and sharp insights. Her strength? She helps me build a clear strategy for getting the things that needs to be done, done. Amazingly well. And now.–Ken’s books has grossed close to $40 million dollars…
April helped us tremendously. We wanted to add spa services to our offerings but as a brand new salon owner, I was too exhausted to even think about anything outside of running my busy salon. April walked us through the entire process and opened a new revenue source for us. –Miquel Gonzalez, Owner of Him & Her Salon, NJ
April is a great communicator and motivator, you should follow her if you’re thinking about getting into any type of business- U.S.M.C., Ret., Cary Abbott
April gave me the word to write the book. I was pleased to discover April Gregory, who has been an invaluable resource concerning many of the business initiatives I am currently embarking upon.I am confident that my end result will reach higher grounds with April on my team. Sonya Ward Life Channels Vessel to Vessel Int’l.
April is very professional. She has been an asset to our project with NJ Transit. Thanks for everything!– M. Sportelli, Program Manager Gov’t Services.
Social Media enthusiast recognized by Evan Carmichael as one of the Top 100 Marketers on Twitter – July 2012 and March 2013.