What I learned from starting a business one coffee meeting at a time
If I lived with a GoPro Camera on my head 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, you would see a whole lot of late nights and early mornings. And by early morning, I mean jolting awake at 3:45 a.m. with an idea I can’t shake or clarity about a problem I’ve been trying to solve. Going back to sleep isn’t an option. But then again, neither is failure.
No one claims that starting a business is easy. But as hard as it can be, it’s really important to maintain your confidence as an entrepreneur by celebrating those small victories while waiting for that big break. That, and a lot—and I mean A LOT—of love and support from family and friends.
Want to know the real secret behind building a successful business?
Work your ass off and take good care of people.
It takes a long time to find your space and learn how to tell your story so that you start winning. It takes effort to show people how to believe in you, your product and services enough to part with their hard-earned money to hire you. And it takes commitment to build relationships with people so they spread the word about what you do, and make introductions on your behalf.
One of the areas where I focused my time the most was building my network—last year alone, I went on over 200 initial meetings. While I drank a lot of coffee it was a strategy that has paid off (read more about the process in our blog post, The Reciprocity of Introductions). I built up my network, made meaningful connections and saw my business grow as a direct result.
Here is an outline of the origin of some of my clients, and a glimpse of how building my network directly translated into new business opportunities:
Client #1: Hired me after years of building trust on the basketball court before ever talking about work.
Client #2: Blind double-date with my fiancé’s friend from work. Her boyfriend introduces me to a guy who introduces me to a venture capital guy, someone on my Power List, who introduces me to the CEO of a target that I found using 2nd Degree Connections on LinkedIn.
Client #3: One of my “super connectors” introduces me to a guy, who introduces me to a non-profit where I get an opportunity to lead sales and leadership workshops, where I meet a sales executive, who introduces me to another super connector, who introduces me to the CEO of an ideal client.
Client #4, 5 & 6: The story continues…
Client #7: Then, one of my clients makes a direct introduction to a decision maker of a Fortune 500 company. Wait what?!? Just over a year into starting a consulting practice as a solo-entrepreneur, and I am fortunate enough to land a Fortune 500 company? And at the company I interned at when I was 20, no less (find out more about why recommendations add instant credibility to any introduction here).
And that is just a glimpse at the way it worked for me. There was no quick fix, no million dollar idea, dot com romance or SharkTank funding. It was hard. But if your business aligns with your passion and purpose, being an entrepreneur is A LOT of fun.
It took me starting a business to get my life truly in order. As a recovering “work-a-holic,” I have my beautiful fiance to thank for saving me, and helping me put these pieces together. Now I am living the life I always wished for and dreamed of—and if you’re interested in doing the same, I can help.
It all starts with a cup of coffee.
About Carver Peterson Consulting: Carver Peterson’s Executive Coaching, Sales Training and Leadership Development Solutions help businesses drive revenue and maximize profitability by improving operational efficiency, effectiveness and engagement. Carver Peterson’s strengths-based leadership approach is designed to capitalize on the competitive advantages of an organization and empower the unique talents of its employees. Based in Chicago, Carver Peterson Consulting is well-equipped to help your business reach its ultimate potential, regardless of the location. For more information, please visit us at mushy-ship.flywheelsites.com.