Practice Until You Succeed | September 26th, 2011

Practice Make PerfectAthletes don’t become Olympians overnight. Dancers do not get the lead role in Swan Lake within a week of signing up for ballet lessons. Musicians do not produce gold records a month after first picking up a guitar.

To become truly great, no matter if there is natural talent present or not, requires hours and hours of practice.

So why, as business owners, do we think we’re supposed to be good at managing a business the minute we hang up the open sign?

Becoming successful requires practice.

Great business people became great because they put in hours and hours of work. They push themselves beyond their comfort zones in order to improve and grow. They try different techniques, discard the failures, and expand on the successes. They never give up. They just keep reinventing themselves until they create a business model that truly works.

In short, they just keep on practicing.

Do you want to own a thriving company? You’re going to have to practice. Possibly for hours and hours. However, it doesn’t have to be difficult. There should be a natural progression. A series of manageable levels to be achieved one by one.

Does this sound familiar? “I’m just no good at sales, because I’m not comfortable marketing myself to people.”

The good news? Marketing simply requires practice, too.

Start by joining a networking group that you are comfortable with and that allows you to make a brief one-minute presentation about your business. When you are comfortable with that, move on to having one-on-one meetings. After that, you might progress to giving 10 or 20 minute presentations to a small group. Make each step achievable, but always keep pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. A runner doesn’t train to run a marathon by only running a couple miles a day.

Do you want to grab the big clients? Start small.

Let’s say you’ve developed a gourmet cookie and your ultimate goal is to sell to the chain grocery stores. You wouldn’t start by marching into a store’s corporate office with a box of cookies in hand. Most likely you would start producing small batches and selling them in small coffee shops and boutique food stores. Then maybe you’d approach some larger independent stores. If you were able to keep up with demand, you might then start the process of getting your cookies into a chain of grocery stores.

By the time you were ready to sell to the big stores you would have had plenty of practice. You would have worked out all the details of producing your cookies in mass quantities, while still maintaining quality. You would have ironed out any issues in shipping cookies with minimal breakage. You would have transitioned from a sole proprietor to a company employing several people to bake and package the cookies.

You’d be ready for the marathon.

A goal that may have seemed unattainable when you started your business, is easily brought into reach, simply by following the natural learning process as you grow the business.

Are you going to make mistakes? Absolutely. Every great achiever does. The only unforgivable mistake is to not try.

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