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Business Stripped Bare: What I’ve learned from Sir Richard Branson, Part One

I’m a reader. Folks who know me know my bookshelves are stocked to the gills with books read, underlined, notated and paraphrased. They also know I have boxes of books that won’t fit on my shelves. So what better gift to give a girl like me than Sir Richard Branson’s book, Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur? Along with a book light and a lifetime supply of batteries for that light, my sister made my holiday bright (no pun intended) with this gift.

My intention this year is to write more, and read more, and most importantly to share my findings with my subscribers so they too can benefit from what I learn. This is the first installment of revelations from Sir Richard’s book.

After swimming through the first chapter, dozens of action steps popped into my head that I felt compelled to implement in my business. But nestled in the center of that first chapter was this little gem:

“business has to give people enriching, rewarding lives, or it’s simply not worth doing.”

I stopped cold when I read those words. I must have re-read them 16 or 20 times, because the underline is pretty black on the page. Then I took out my notebook and started writing down ideas about what makes an enriching, rewarding life – and how my businesses could do that for me.

Beyond the monetary considerations, your business must provide social/emotional fulfillment.

You’ve got to feel good about the work you’re doing, and share that joy with others. That’s the beauty of work: different people get joy from doing different tasks. Why put yourself in a position where you HAVE to do the work you hate? If you find yourself foucsing on the drudgery of the work you do, you’ll quickly hit burnout, become disgruntled, and look for excuses to not get your work done.

Direct Sales consultants suffer from a chronic dread of getting on the phone and doing the requisite follow-up with their customers. If this is a problem for you, there are solutions. Hire some help. Recruit a customer service rep to handle the calls and follow ups for you. There are two immediate benefits: you’ll be freed from the work you hate, PLUS your customers will get the follow up they deserve. The downside? There may be a cost to hiring help. But not necessarily. You can often find inexpensive help through a local college or via online help at places like elance.com.

You will do your best work when you are pursuing your passion.
So often, we find ourselves plugged into work that we thought we would enjoy, only to find out we’re really not cut out for it. We haven’t taken the time to investigate where our passion truly lies. As a result, we may feel stuck or trapped in a position that we can’t escape. That’s simply not the case. There are always alternatives.

A coaching client recently made the discovery that, although she loved her work, her real passion was in spending time “being a good mom” to her babies. She felt as though her mission had to be work related, and during our coaching sessions, she came to realize that her work is the vehicle that helps her fulfill her mission of being a good mom. Are you clear on what you live to do? What is that thing that makes you jump out of bed in the morning?

In Direct Sales, we call it your “why”, but it can really be anything. The passion that inspires you to do out-of-the-ordinary things to achieve your goals. The fire that pushes you through some of the more mundane moments in your business. When you structure your work around pursuing your passion/mission, nothing can prevent you from achieving success – all it can do is delay it a bit.

There has to be reciprocity. You must give to get.
Sir Richard talks about the various charitable activities that are tied into the Virgin brand. In Direct Sales, many of our companies already donate a portion of profits to worthy causes. At the consultant level, what are YOU doing to give back to your community/customers? It can be a simple hostess appreciation event, giving extras with orders, or any manner of giving back as a way to establish a deeper connection with the people you serve. Service is the key. A business that seeks to serve it’s customers (not sell to them), is more profitable, more successful, and more powerful in the marketplace.

In a saturated marketplace, the company that cares – the business with heart, that has concern for the public, makes a bigger splash. Customers “don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.”

Finding your passion in your business, and serving your customers in a value-added way makes a tremendous difference in the value YOU derive from it as a business owner. When an opportunity presents itself to serve your customers, take it. You’ll find your business to be more rewarding, enjoyable, and successful in the long run.

© 2009 Lisa Robbin Young

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WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR PRINT OR WEB PUBLICATIONS?

I’d be honored – so long as you include this complete blurb with it: Lisa Robbin Young teaches entrepreneurs how to be celebrities in the eyes of their customers. Lisa’s mission is to educate entreprenurial women about big business ideas they can apply to their small business enterprise for stellar success. Learn the 4 steps to Building a Better Customer at http://www.homepartysolution.com/bbc.

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