Business 06 March 2020
I am a farm-grown Canadian girl from the prairies of Manitoba, living on the coast of South Carolina. A few years ago, I married a beautiful man I met during a retreat in Costa Rica, and became a step-mother to his three children after the death of his wife, six years ago. I also built my own business from the ground up, starting at 19 years old, never looking back.
I am a Certified Facilitator of Access Consciousness, which means I travel the world giving seminars, as well as facilitating online classes, speaking on the subject of conscious living. I have always been interested in conscious living and this career matched who I am as a person. I am 25 years old and I have a full-plate. But I love it that way!
I have built my business to gross over $300,000 per year, each year earning more than the last. I travel the world with my husband, who is in the same line of work, and we try to bring the kids along on the trips, as often as we can. Only a few short years ago I had almost no clue how I was going to create anything sustainable in this field. I have used the tools and values I have learned in Access Consciousness to strengthen myself in order to increase my business and make it a success. I believe that the stronger you are as a person, the larger your business can become, and no matter your age, it is never too late to begin the adventure of business.
1. Be Willing To Take Risks
I realized that if was going to create a profitable and fun business I was going to have to become comfortable taking huge risks, personally and financially. Over and over again. As a species, our brains are designed to protect us from risk, and keep us in mediocrity. This protects and maintains us as a species. For most of us adversity towards risk is a really difficult thing to overcome. It was almost paralyzing to me at first. But with practice, and the willingness to see that risk usually meant reward, I became more confident in my ability to make decisions.
I wouldn't have been able to survive without the constant willingness to re-invent myself and choose beyond my comfort zone. For example, I had a class in Israel and I had spent $10,000, booking plane tickets for my husband and I, booking a venue for the class, a hotel for us, when my host told me that no one was interested in coming to the class. At that moment, I realized I had to change my host, change the type of workshops I was doing, and reinvent the whole trip. We ended up going, facilitating the classes, and were surprised with the success of the last-minute changes. When you take risks, you begin to develop a trust in you that carries into all areas of life.
2. Learning How To Speak Other People's Language
In business, it is important to realize how other people function and how they preferred to be talked to. I see so many people having business conversations with people using their idea of how they, themselves would like to be spoken to. When you meet someone, you have to ask yourself this question: “What can this person receive from me, and how would they like to be spoken to?" Some people like to get right down to business, while others need small talk or compliments before they are comfortable getting started. If you pay attention and honor the other person's way of functioning, you often get farther than you can imagine, and create strong relationships.
3. Remembering To Use My Gender To My Advantage
In business, there are times where it works to be aggressive. I have built my ability to stick up for myself through some big errors. As women, we are encouraged to be aggressive to keep up with men. I am willing to do this when I know it is what will create the greatest result. But I also am willing to be myself as a woman, and to speak to the world as I see it.
We are taught that we have to be like men to work with them, and I don't see that working very well in my experience. Now, this may be a controversial way of looking at things from a feminist perspective, but I believe that women are every bit as capable as men, but also totally different. Each sex has something different at their disposal. Why should feel we have to become like the other sex when we can use the gifts of our gender, or use whatever approach works best according to the situation?
4. Ask: What will this choice create in five years?
If you turn right on your way to work, instead of turning left, it has the possibility to change your whole day. If your whole day changes, this changes your whole week. Your whole week can change your whole month, and your whole month, your whole year. Each choice we make creates an entirely different future.
So many of us make our choices automatic, or we choose only within a small window for fear of being judged, or for fear of failing. You build for the future by looking at how each choice you make today, creates an entirely different future.
Look at the future you would like to have. When making a choice, ask yourself, “If I make this choice, what will my life be like in five years?" You don't have to work out all the details, but you will know intuitively what your choice will create. If the choices you are making today match the future you would like to have, you are planting seeds for a greater future. Ask yourself, “What can I do today to prepare for the future I know is possible?" You may surprise yourself with how easy it is to shift your focus to the future, so that you are always building what you know you are capable of.
This piece was originally published January 7, 2018.
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3 Min Read
"How did you ever get into a business like that?" people ask me. They're confounded to hear that my product is industrial baler wire—a very unfeminine pursuit, especially in 1975 when I founded my company in the midst of a machismo man's world. It's a long story, but I'll try to shorten it.
I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up—even if it involved a non-glamorous product. I'd been fired from my previous job working to become a ladies' clothing buyer and was told at my dismissal, "You just aren't management or corporate material." My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.
Over the years, I've learned quite a few tough lessons about how to successfully run a business. Below are five essential elements to keep in mind, as well as my story on how I learned them.
Find A Need And Fill It
I gradually became successful at selling various products, which unfortunately weren't profitable enough to get me off the ground, so I asked people what they needed that they couldn't seem to get. One man said, "Honey, I need baler wire. Even the farmers can't get it." I saw happy dollar signs as he talked on and dedicated myself to figuring out the baler wire industry.
I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up.
Now forty-five years later, I'm proud to be the founder of Vulcan Wire, Inc., an industrial baler wire company with $10 million of annual sales.
Have Working Capital And Credit
There were many pitfalls along the way to my eventual success. My daughters and I were subsisting from my unemployment checks, erratic alimony and child-support payments, and food stamps. I had no money stashed up to start up a business.
I paid for the first wire with a check for which I had no funds, an illegal act, but I thought it wouldn't matter as long as I made a deposit to cover the deficit before the bank received the check. My expectation was that I'd receive payment immediately upon delivery, for which I used a rented truck.
Little did I know that this Fortune 500 company's modus operandi was to pay all bills thirty or more days after receipts. My customer initially refused to pay on the spot. I told him I would consequently have to return the wire, so he reluctantly decided to call corporate headquarters for this unusual request.
My stomach was in knots the whole time he was gone, because he said it was iffy that corporate would come through. Fifty minutes later, however, he emerged with a check in hand, resentful of the time away from his busy schedule. Stressed, he told me to never again expect another C.O.D. and that any future sale must be on credit. Luckily, I made it to the bank with a few minutes to spare.
Know Your Product Thoroughly
I received a disheartening phone call shortly thereafter: my wire was breaking. This horrible news fueled the fire of my fears. Would I have to reimburse my customer? Would my vendor refuse to reimburse me?
My customer told me to come over and take samples of his good wire to see if I might duplicate it. I did that and educated myself on the necessary qualities.
My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.
Voila! I found another wire supplier that had the right specifications. By then, I was savvy enough to act as though they would naturally give me thirty-day terms. They did!
More good news: My customer merely threw away all the bad wire I'd sold him, and the new wire worked perfectly; he then gave me leads and a good endorsement. I rapidly gained more wire customers.
Anticipate The Dangers Of Exponential Growth
I had made a depressing discovery. My working capital was inadequate. After I purchased the wire, I had to wait ten to thirty days for a fabricator to get it reconfigured, which became a looming problem. It meant that to maintain a good credit standing, I had to pay for the wire ten to thirty days before my customers paid me.
I was successful on paper but was incredibly cash deprived. In other words, my exponentially growing business was about to implode due to too many sales. Eventually, my increasing sales grew at a slower rate, solving my cash flow problem.
Delegate From The Bottom Up
I learned how to delegate and eventually delegated myself out of the top jobs of CEO, President, CFO, and Vice President of Finance. Now, at seventy-eight years old, I've sold all but a third of Vulcan's stock and am semi-retired with my only job currently serving as Vice President of Stock and Consultant.
In the interim, I survived many obstacles and learned many other lessons, but hopefully these five will get you started and help prevent some of you from having the same struggles that I did. And in the end, I figured it all out, just like you will.