Warning-This Is A Tough Love Blog
This is something that’s been on my mind and I just have to share, I owe it to you because I want women to succeed. I love the current women empowerment movement. I love all the women being empowered to start their businesses and coaching and podcasts etc. It’s truly wonderful for me to see it actually happening.
The experience is also a new frontier for so many women. Whether it’s a podcast, a business or selling coaching or other services; all of it requires selling, promoting, negotiating and nurturing relationships. I wrote this in an effort to give you a few tips that will help you and some tough love real truth. This is really 3 blogs in one, so get ready, and if you don’t have time, you can always read the section that you need and come back to it later.
VALIDATION OF THE 14 TIPS
I’ve been involved in some aspect of sales and business my entire life. I had my first job when I was 9 years old as a cashier at my dad’s video store— really, it was the 80’s, my dad would leave the store for hours to go to the warehouse and I’d be by myself at the store handling all the customers. I had my first business when I was in high school selling candy with my business partner/best friend. I had my second when I was 18 with the same friend, we started a MUA business and got to be the official MUA for the Emmys one year. For my high school senior project I wrote a paper on how “Money Laundering Distorts Macroeconomic Policies” and for my project I created a business plan for an Italian Restaurant.
My business plan was so thorough that the judges didn’t believe a student created that and they had to send it to a committee to review for cheating. My teachers asked me if it was really my work or if someone else did it. No, I didn’t cheat, it was all my work. I’ve always had a passion for entrepreneurship and I loved every moment of that project, I did it from my heart. They believed me and I ended up getting an A.
I wanted to be an entrepreneur since I can remember. My family wasn’t wealthy so I had to count on myself, my skills and my witt to figure out a way. Back then there was no school for entrepreneurs, I had to learn and carve out my own path. I knew the best way to learn was to work for entrepreneurs. I worked as the right hand to many CEOs of small to mid-size businesses, I earned my way to that position through my effort that the owners saw first hand.
I’ve learned through watching them and working with them. I’ve learned about business, processes, logistics, sales, the importance of relationships and leadership. I also chose to be an accounting major in college because accounting is the fundamental language of business. I learned about profit and loss statements, cashflow, manufacturing accounting, information systems and how to research. I intentionally structured my life and career path to learn as much as I can to be a successful business owner one day.
My path has not been an easy one and full of challenges. My most challenging sales job, was selling cable, internet and phone services door to door. My first week on the job, every person said no and slammed the door in my face. I sat on a curb and cried and called my co-worker to tell her I was going to quit (great story on perseverance, Sexy Boss Babe podcast episode 4.) She told me not to, that she would coach me. Once I got the hang of it, I became the #1 sales person month after month.
Later on I worked as Operations Director for a company, over time helping structure the business to scalability and growing it from 20 to over 50 staff and employees and helped create 2 new divisions. I ended up leaving the company to start my own business. I got investors, a staff and an office space. Through my job, I had built relationships with many CEOs of companies in the industry in my town and had secured contracts to get their business before I ever opened my doors. I was ready and positioned for success, it was going to be a slam dunk. Then the market crashed. I remember turning on the TV and all the companies I was going to do business with went bankrupt one by one. It was over for me. Luckily the investors were saved, but I had to figure out my next move.
After that time, I went into consulting and worked on projects for a billion dollar energy company. I was giving presentations to VPs and nuclear physicists but I had a tickle, I wasn't fulfilled. It led me to making my first attempt at starting a social impact company in 2008, a product with a charity component, it was just before Toms Shoes became mainstream. I had some success but ran out of money and didn’t have enough experience in that business to really know what I was doing. I also had a lot of nay sayers around me saying I was crazy to think a hybrid business/charity model would work which I ended up listening to and that didn’t help.
I went back to a job as the Operations Director for a tobacco manufacturer. I helped grow the company from 5 people to over 100 with east and west coast operations. I built every department from the ground up, hired, trained and positioned people. I oversaw everything, conducted million dollar transactions and reported directly to the CEO. I worked 15 hours a day, 6 days a week until I was burnt out. I promised myself if I ever worked that hard again, it would be for my own business.
I happily quit that job and I spent the next 5 years as the Director of Business Development at a litigation support company consulting and selling services to law firms, insurance companies and corporations. I closed the biggest contract in the history of the company and industry. The deal was so big, it changed the landscape of how our company did business. The money was great, but my heart wasn’t in it. Entrepreneurship continued to call me.
It had been almost 10 years since my last attempt at starting a business. I had more knowledge, more skills, more experience and had tougher skin. I had confidence, I could speak up for myself, I knew my worth and so important, become a much better negotiator. I became Sexy Boss Babe's tagline, "fierce, bold and empowered." I had won and lost enough times to know when to pivot or change direction. I had saved up some money and after working on it for a few years while I had a full time job, I took the leap of faith and launched Sexy Boss Babe in 2018.
We did our first trade show, it was a success and continued to do more shows and events. We got our first wholesale order 6 months later and now Sexy Boss Babe is being carried at over 45 retail stores in Southern California, 10 stores in Europe and growing. When we started out, it was just me, then two of us and now we are a team of 8. We have an e-commerce business, a podcast and we operate as a women empowerment, social impact company that supports charities that help foster youth and survivors of sex trafficking. I’m finally living in my purpose, my ikigai. Sexy Boss Babe podcast season 2, episodes 9 and episode 17 can help you figure out what your purpose and ikigai are.
14 TIPS, HERE IT IS
Now that you know my background I hope my successes and failures help give you some confidence in my advice. The reason I was inspired to write this blog is because I’m part of a few women’s groups on Facebook and I enjoy reading comments and leaving comments or posting and asking for advice and learning from others. What I’m also noticing is a lot of hard working and talented women frustrated over people not buying their products/services or using pressure/fear tactics to motivate people to take action or upset at podcast guests they interview over simple things. I know and understand the frustration first hand, I’ve been there countless times myself, but, it's important to focus on the big picture. Here are some tips on sales, business and mindset that can be very helpful:
1. Be passionate about your business, passion is contagious (the money will come)
2. Always give more than you receive
3. Especially in business (product or service) you have to give things away for free sometimes especially in the beginning years (this is part of business and branding...trust me)
4. Be in it for the long game rather than short sighted on today’s transactions...focus on your long term vision for your business and your brand
5. Every person you meet could be a potential customer, even if they don’t buy right away. Think of it as a lead or prospect, be mindful not to rub someone the wrong way because they didn’t buy today. Maybe they will be in the market a year from now and they will think of you when they are ready to buy. Always be kind, generous and supportive
6. Leads and and prospects will one day be customers if nurtured the proper way
7. “You catch more flies with honey.” If you are a business, you are in the industry of service...service to others, NOT the other way around
8. Always be a resource for people for free. Yes I said for free. You are your own walking advertisement
9. Genuinely engage and connect with people. Don’t just focus on the money. The money will come. Remember you are playing the long game
10. Are you a sales person or are you a CEO/Leader? Sales people only think of the sales transaction. CEOs think about long term customer retention. Branding and retention is how you grow and scale a business so that its sustainable for the long term and has a future
11. Be mindful of desperation. People can smell desperation a mile away. No one wants to work with someone or give money to a desperate person, it’s a low frequency energy (I know this from personal experience and years of being in sales) think about how you can bring value to your customer or prospect, keep being patient and focus on the long game
12. No one owes you money or to be a guest on your podcast or needs to buy anything from you. People work hard for their money and their time is valuable and if they give you the honor of purchasing your product or service or give you their time or expertise, treat it with respect and appreciation by giving them a high level of customer service, kindness and your loyalty in return
13. Business is a 2 way street, it’s not just about you getting paid. If you enter business with just that mindset, you may win short term, but you will lose in the long term. The customer expects to receive a high quality product or service and when you offer that, that’s what sets you apart and increases likelihood of referrals
14. Always ask for referrals and to be introduced to someone that would benefit or like your product/service. Often times women tend to be shy to make the ask and want to be humble rather than pushy. You have to change that mindset, as a business owner, you must always ask or you will end up stuck in the same place
SOCIAL MEDIA… AND THEN THE TRUTH
Social media paints a very false reality of what being a “boss babe” means. All we see are pretty instagram posts of women in beautiful outfits with a “hustle” caption and a cool hashtag. We all go gaga for it, “Yes! That’s me!” Or “Yes! I want that!” I’m going to borrow a quote from Gary Vee that I use a lot; “Everyone wants to be LeBron but no one wants to bleed like LeBron. Everyone wants to be Beyonce, but no one wants to bleed like Beyonce.” Does that make sense? Everyone sees the pretty Instagram posts and wants to be that right away. They see the movie star or the athlete and want that level of results right now. No one thinks about the hours, classes, time, dedication, years of practice, rejection, overcoming defeat, being on the verge of giving up and not. That’s the work, that’s the blood.
Everyone see’s that I’ve had some progress with Sexy Boss Babe, but no one knows that on my worst day, I had no where to sleep and spent $20 to go to a 24 hour Korean spa so I wouldn’t be on the street. That’s bleeding. It's waking up at 4am to be at an arena event, parking and walking a mile to your booth and on the walk over someone kindly stops you to tell you you have blood all over the back of your pants because you started your period and it's a heavy day. You clean up as best as you can in a porta potty, find an extra t-shirt to tuck into your pants from behind, roll up your sleeves and get ready to sell (yes that really happened.) If you are not prepared to bleed for your business (literally), for your dream…then I’m sorry to tell you, you are not built for entrepreneurship.
It’s not high heels and champagne. It’s blisters on your feet for walking on the sidewalk going door to door in the hot sun because you have $14 in your bank account and if you don’t sell, you don’t eat. It’s being at the mall with a bag of product and walking up to strangers and convincing them to buy what you are selling. It’s making 100 phone calls before you get 1 sale. It’s facing rejection after rejection after rejection and not letting that affect you.
Here’s the reality...95% of businesses fail. So if you’ve chosen to start a business, you, me, we all...have a 5% success rate. That’s VERY low. Businesses typically fail because expenses are too high, not enough sales, people run out of money, not enough people know about the business, it’s poorly run, bad leadership, business debt...so many things are already going against us.
The one thing we can count on is ourselves...that’s the only sure bet. Getting reliable/valuable leads is one of the hardest parts of the game of business. So, if you have a lead or a new relationship, don’t ruin it by being too pushy or self focused, it comes across and people know you don't have their best interest at heart. If you are a business person of any kind, your mantra should be “I’m in the business of service,” and always think of how you can be of service to your customers and community.
The other caveat here is women seem to be mixing up feeling empowered/getting paid their worth (which I fully support) with being a business owner and entrepreneur. It is very important to understand that those are totally two completely different things. The values of being an employee and expectations from your employer or job DO NOT apply to entrepreneurship in any way shape or form...EVER. I’m not saying to work for free, definitely not.
You should always know the price/cost/margins of your business/service/product and when you and a customer actually agree to do business, negotiating what’s beneficial to you is key. My point is...there’s such a long process and so much that you need to invest before the actual “sale” transaction happens. Your goal is to do everything you can to keep bringing in as many people to the table by keeping your pipeline filled. Not everyone at the table will buy today, but they might buy next month or next year so always keep them warm.
If you know me or know anything about the Sexy Boss Babe brand, EVERYTHING we do is in an effort to keep you empowered and to believe in yourself and your worth. Every podcast episode released is to help you remember your value and to go after you want in life or teach from my own struggles, challenges and failures.
I have plenty of them and I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work. I definitely don’t claim to know everything because I don’t, but I have plenty of experience to draw from to help you on your journey. I see so many women with such talent, beautiful product, service or idea but totally wrong on execution or getting caught up in their emotions over a business “rejection,” and most important, many don’t understand sales. I can’t ignore it, I know how hard you have worked, I want to see your success I actually do. Stick with me, I promise I have so much to give you!!
If you like Instagram, we have tons of informational stories, posts and content @thesexybossbabe. If you like podcasts, we are on Season 2 of the Sexy Boss Babe podcast available on all platforms and there are so many topics like self esteem, empowerment, perseverance, business, career, mindset etc. The new Monday blog series is intended to be more entrepreneurship focused with nitty gritty stuff. We have a Sexy Boss Babe empowerment group on FaceBook to keep you motivated and excited to keep going.
All of this is free and available to you. And we will soon be announcing a community impact opportunity that will literally change the lives of anyone that wants to participate.
This is the time of the divine feminine. It’s here. Anything you want you can have. So let’s have it ladies. We’ve worked hard, we’ve earned it. It’s our time, let’s uplift one another!! Cheers to all of our success, every one of us and let's get out there and "be fierce, bold and empowered!!" I BELIEVE IN YOU!
NEXT BLOG: "What is a pipeline and why is it important?"
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Love you all!!
Arzo Yusuf--CEO, Sexy Boss Babe