It’s a strange phenomena, the early stages of starting a business. At first, you feel like you don’t know anything, so you look around to other successful business owners for knowledge and advice. And at some point, if you keep plugging along for long enough, one day you become the person others are looking to for that knowledge. It’s a strange shift, and some business owners never seem to get there, but lately I think I’ve found the #1 thing that separates those who do turn into entrepreneurial thought leaders from those who never seem to really get into a groove.
That’s it. That’s the thing that seems to separate those who others end up looking to for guidance, knowledge and advice, and those who never seem to be noticed. Just say yes. When people ask you to present on a topic, or to have coffee or lunch, or to attend an event, if at all possible – say yes. Even if you’re scared. Even if you think you don’t know enough to be of any assistance or to contribute anything to the conversation. Say yes, even when it sounds intimidating or outside your comfort zone (heck, especially say yes then). And when you do go, say yes to participating.
Become someone people can count on to tell the truth and to show up. Don’t be afraid to be honest with people about the hard stuff that running a business can bring, but also, say yes to being proud of your accomplishments. I know, I know, we are headquartered in the Midwest, the land of humility and downplaying accomplishments, but don’t say yes to that. Say yes to being proud of the work you’ve done, the work those around you have done, and say yes to empowering others to be proud of what they have and will do.
I know it sounds both simple and insanely difficult, but I promise you (and lawyers aren’t really supposed to make promises ever) if you say yes to more things than you say no to, to things that push your comfortable day-to-day limits, one day you’ll wake up and realize there are quite a few people starting businesses who now look to you as an example of what they can do.
And yes, saying yes to many things can make you tired, so you have to find the RIGHT things to say yes to, and be confident enough to say no to the others. I wrote about tips for saying no in an earlier post, so refer to that if you’re afraid all these yeses are going to leave you burned out.