Friday, January 30, 2009

Be your best salesperson

Remember, you are your brand. So embody it wherever you go, and be its biggest fan. Carry your product around. Give it away when possible. People want instant gratification, and they love the ability to touch and feel the product. It helps make that emotional connection that leads to the sale.

Estée Lauder, who started her business in 1946, was frustrated when large advertising agencies wouldn’t take on her relatively small company (at the time). So she started her own campaign, which consisted of free samples and gifts with purchase. It was a huge success. She knew if a woman liked it, she would tell a friend. “If you put the product into the customer's hands, it will speak for itself if it's something of quality,” said Lauder. She strongly believed that in order to make the sale, you had to touch the customer. She personally went to every counter opening and trained the staff. “I’d make up every woman who stopped to look,” she said. “I would show her that a three-minute make up could change her life.” Lauder never stopped selling or showing her passion for her brand. “I have never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in something, I sell it, and I sell it hard.” Today, the company sells in more than 100 countries and controls 46% of the cosmetics market in U.S. department stores.

Follow Lauder’s lead. Especially in today’s tough economy, you must believe in your product and show your passion for it. Carry it around if you can, and don’t be afraid to give it away once in awhile.

What are your tips for being a good salesperson?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Planning Your Future Business Now

Is entrepreneurship in your future? Start preparing yourself and your business while working for another company.

While at your current job, you can hone your entrepreneurial skills. Start by observing your surroundings, what works and what doesn’t. What aspects of your current job would you like to incorporate into your future company? And while you’re sitting through all those corporate meetings, think about what you like and dislike about them. Make some mental notes about what’s good and bad so you can take that knowledge with you. Start thinking about how you will define your personal brand and your company’s brand. What does the Real You look like?

Developing a business plan, researching your target audience and creating a vision for your business are easy ways to start preparing for what’s ahead—your business and life as an entrepreneur!

Also, while you’re still in the corporate arena, find a mentor—or two. You’re surrounded by successful people. Find out how they got started. What have they learned? What would they do differently? And finally, don’t forget to network. Take advantage of every possibility to meet and converse with other entrepreneurs and professionals. Remember to network with a diverse group of people in order to build a strong network. Something as simple as a friendly hello could evolve into a strong business relationship.

So tomorrow, when you walk through your office doors, don’t think “just another boring day at the office”; instead think, “What will I observe and learn today that will allow me to make my future business awe-inspiring?”

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Are you inspired? Feeling good? In control? If not, take action!

If you're not feeling happy, why not? Here are your options: you can lament increasing unemployment, a shaking economy, a cold winter, a New Year's resolution not met, a kids' bad report card, a gray sky, and any number of other depressing mid-winter realities. Or, you can change your mindset. You can decide to live a positive, optimistic life. That doesn't mean Pollyanna or rose-colored glasses. That means you are in charge, and at the center of your life. You are standing in your power with confidence over the things you can change - and with acceptance of the things you cannot.

Fearful about losing your job? You aren't alone. In Ohio, where I live, our state just reached 7.8 percent unemployment, a number not seen since in decades. It's scary. But it's not immobilizing. You cannot be the one who sits frozen with fear. Those are the folks who go down with the ship. This is a time for action. To decide what it is that you, the Real You, wants to do, and who you want to be. Perhaps it is the time to start the business of your dreams, on the side for now, as you wait to see what happens where you are. Or maybe, instead of waiting for something to happen to you, you'll make a plan and take action for yourself.

Perhaps in this time of great uncertainty you'll step into the center of your life and take charge. Sometimes, when the going gets tough, the tough start their own businesses. As odd as it may seem, now probably is one of the best times in history to go for it. Back in the recession of 1991, there were record numbers of people starting businesses. In fact, in the last two recessions, 77 percent of the net new jobs created in the country were created by micro enterprises - businesses with five or fewer employees, according to Women's Economic Ventures in Santa Barbara, California.

It's OK to start small. If you dream of becoming your own boss, and you are passionate about what you want to do, now may be the perfect time to turn a hobby into a business. There is a concept that originated in the Great Depression called the "lipstick factor" - that people will still indulge in small luxury items such as cosmetics while they cut back on big luxury purchases. In fact, employment rose in the cosmetics industry during the last two recessions, even as it fell in all other segments. And of course, there is always a need for the other basics: food, babysitting, household products, green anything and the like.

Inspired? I hope so. Instead of feeling out of control, start dreaming. Look around at the marketplace and see if you could fit into it with your own business. I know, many small businesses fail, but many others succeed. And hey, if you can make it in this economy, just imagine what will happen when happy days are finally here again.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Never Fear Failure

Don't be intimidated in tough situations. People can detect fear in your words and actions, so take a deep breath and dismiss your fear of failure. Easier said than done? Remember, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Take a step back and think of this moment over the course of your lifetime. As your perspective widens, your situation will appear less significant in the grand scheme of things. It also helps to have a strong support system—a group that will cheer you on regardless of your successes and failures.

Anne Murray-Randolph was a fine arts grad selling Xerox machines for a living. When confronted with a corporate big-wig, Anne was asked to give her 45-minute presentation pitch on copiers in only 20 minutes. Realizing that it would be nearly impossible to cover all of her presentation material in half the amount of time, Anne took a deep breath and a different approach to her pitch. Embodying humor instead of a fear of failure, Anne flew through the presentation with wit and spunk. Anne knew as soon as her 20 minutes were up that this prospective corporate client wasn't interested in the copier. Instead, he told her that he was impressed with her and wondered if she would come work for him. Anne Murray-Randolph went on to work in prominent positions for American Can, General Foods, Frito-Lay, Hunt Wesson and RevoPower. She is currently the editor of Lives of Real Estate (LORE) magazine.

Have you ever overcome your fear of failure in a tough situation? We want to hear about it. Share your thoughts on the RYI blog!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Snark Alert- time to sound the alarm

Have you recently been the victim of a sexist remark? It sounds like you have a sexist snark on your hands. Ah, those pesky snarks! A sexist snark is another person in your organization who is trying to bring you down. This type of snark resorts to making sexist comments; and as a result, they appear near the top of my snark scale.

First, you’re probably shocked, like most of us, that sexist snarks can still exist in this millennium. Don’t be intimidated by their behavior. Instead, report them. If you don’t get a response or if no action is taken, move on. That’s obviously not an environment you want to be in, so cut your losses and get out. To help you navigate through the tension and stress at work check out Snark Guides.

And to find out more about snarks, visit

Monday, January 19, 2009

Everyone has a story. What's yours?

In my book I talk about telling your story and I have gotten various questions regarding this topic. Most asking “why tell your story?” And to that I respond…

Because it’s unique! It’s yours and you own it. The important part of defining your personal brand is to understand how to bring it to life as a competitive advantage. Without that, you’re just another entrepreneur. With your story, you are fully formed.

Within your story you find perspective. I tell people to look in their rear-view mirror. Why? Because that’s where you’ll find perspective. That’s where you’ll find answers. Define your personal brand. Make it real. Then, put the real you in your business.

What is your story? I’d love to hear and be inspired.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Add excitement and laughter to your business

The thought that all businesses must be strict, ridged, dull and lifeless is not outdated. Business owners should not be afraid to fill their business with laughter and fun. Consumers and employees are looking for an enjoyable experience. Adding life and personality to your business welcomes consumers and keeps them coming back for more.

I always say go for the laughter. As adults, we often let the laughter escape from our lives—and that’s a huge mistake. Much has been written about the health benefits of laughter. From relieving stress to boosting the immune system, it’s a one-way ticket to promoting good health.

In a work environment, having a little fun promotes camaraderie, and that’s critical for building an effective team. This is one time when it’s a good idea to take a cue from the kids in your life. They haven’t forgotten what it’s like to laugh, play and have a good time. My advice to you—and your colleagues—is to loosen up, laugh and play a little, too.

How do you add excitement into your business and work day?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Don’t waste your dollars on non-believers.

You’ve heard the old saying, “The customer is always right.” Just keep in mind who your audience is. Not everyone is going to love your product or service. Those people are not your target audience, so don’t waste your time and dollars trying to win them over. Get to know your brand believers and what they expect from you. How? Ask! Test. Use comment cards or online surveys. Find out what you can do better—in every aspect—and let them know when you’ve made an improvement.

Take Jeni Britton, president and founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, for example. Her goal is to “surprise and delight” her customers. And she does it through lavender and wild berries, coriander and raspberry, and Savannah buttermint ice cream flavors (to name a few). Not only are her flavors fun, but they’re also healthier than other ice creams. Jeni says she makes ice cream for her customers, not for everyone. To keep her customers coming back, she gives them plenty of ways to give feedback, including inviting them to her test kitchen.

We want to know how you have learned from your customers and built lifetime relationships with them. Share your thoughts!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Tweeps & Business Pages vs. Networking Parties & Business Cards

Are you feeling the pressures of networking through social media but don’t really know what that means, let alone how to do it? If so, you are not alone. Just be honest about it.

I love it when people are honest. It’s great to be able to admit both your strengths—and your weaknesses! And learning to incorporate social media into your business’ marketing plan in the New Year is a great step. If you entered the business world before the Internet, you know and feel the dramatic changes that are occurring almost daily. Every industry is facing these changes and the challenges and opportunities that technology brings.

The key to social networking is to apply it to your business in a genuine fashion. Women are natural social networkers. We always have been. We build and maintain communities across the country through volunteerism. I don’t know about you, but when I look at my kids’ schools, the volunteer ranks are full of women. Still. That’s social networking in the real world.

It’s no different online. What I recommend is to start networking online on a business-specific, direct connection site like LinkedIn. I like LinkedIn because everyone on it is there to make business connections. So start there. And then, invite your contacts to join you. I believe this is the future of networking and the future of powering your business. You and your computer and an Internet connection are unstoppable. So don’t be afraid. Start small. But think big.

If you want to take it a step further and join Twitter, check out for another post about marketing your business on Twitter and feel free to follow me!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

First things first in 2009!

If you’re like me and haven’t made a New Year’s resolution, do you feel guilty? If you have made a New Year’s resolution and you’re feeling like you won’t live up to it, are you worried? Well, stop it already! Some of us are good at resolutions; others aren’t. But the key to starting anything, at any time, is to make sure it’s true to the Real You.

Are you keeping yourself at the center of your life? That phrase, and reminder, in and of itself is the key to a successful 2009 and a successful life. And no, I don’t mean moving through life without loving your family, friends and coworkers. What I mean is that your love for them can only be fully actualized if you are fully actualized. If you are being the Real You. The key to deep relationships and a rich life is through the intimacy involved in letting people in—letting them get to know the real you. That is only possible if you know her yourself.

Here’s a question for you: If you could be anyone, living or dead, who would you be?

The answer, I hope: YOU!

When I wrote Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, I hoped it would help other people like you feel empowered to be real, to take charge of your life by putting your passions into action and creating or recreating the life and business of your dreams. The feedback has been fabulous, and many of you have posted your charts and vision boards on the website. I’ve received emails and letters from across the country from women—and men—who have been inspired and empowered by the Real You Process.

My wish for you for 2009 is that you take the time to cherish yourself. Take a step and complete your Real You Chart, perhaps, or finish your vision board. Today is, in fact, the first day of the rest of your life. Don’t sit back and wish you had taken care of yourself. Don’t wish your dreams would come true. Take action. Put yourself and your passions at the center of your life. Be kind to yourself. Take a deep breath, let your worries melt away, and make 2009 the year the Real You shines through!