When I decided on my career choice long
ago it made my parents very worried. All through childhood my parents
watched my love for animals grow deeper and deeper. They started saving
their money because they were pretty sure I’d end up as a veterinarian.
They had been hoping I’d be the first brain surgeon in the family but
they were willing to accept a veterinary degree as a far distant second.
Well, it didn’t quite go that way, much to their dismay. I ended up in
the field of animal behavior and more specifically, cat behavior. I can still hear my mother’s panicky response of “Are you crazy? You’ll starve!!”
This marked the beginning of my journey into a profession surrounded by
skeptics and naysayers. Don’t tell my mother but I actually came close
to starving in those early years but let’s just keep that between us,
Because of the perceived reputation cats have I had an uphill battle
when it came to introducing myself to potential clients, referral
sources, media, and the general public. I can’t tell you how many times
people made assumptions not just about cats but about ME, such as
calling me the “crazy cat lady” or acting shocked when I informed them
that I didn’t live with 40 cats. Some people even accused me of running a
scam because “everyone knows cats can’t be trained.” The
assumptions hurt but they actually provided me with a valuable
education. I knew that if I was going to prove to everyone that this was
a legitimate career and that I was a professional worthy of competing
in the business community I would need to set my own professional bar
very high. I would also need a pretty thick skin.
What I learned through the early years of struggling was not to let
others define who I was. Instead of viewing myself as someone who
wouldn’t succeed because people laughed at my business choice, I decided
to find the leadership qualities inside myself to pave my own road. If I
didn’t value my business and my skills then who else would?
Why do some small businesses succeed and others fail? Surely not all
the reasons have to do with this lousy economy, inadequate advertising
budgets, or larger competition two blocks down the street. Success may
be eluding you because of one person…you. Do you believe in
yourself? The difference between the product you offer and the product
your competitor offers may just be whether you believe in yourself. You
have something unique and valuable staring right back at you in the
mirror. Don’t waste your most important asset.
- Ignite your passion. Nothing
brings out your confidence better than a true belief and passion in
what you have to offer. Regardless of what product you sell or service
you offer, there’s passion to be found in it. The passion may come from
how your service can improve someone’s life or business. Perhaps the
passion is in creating a product or service that has never been seen
before. You have to believe that your business can make a difference in
someone’s life. That’s something to feel pretty passionate about.
- Enjoy what makes you unique. My childhood love of animals was often something that caused other kids to laugh at me (imagine being called Pamster the hamster lover
as an eight-year-old girl trying to fit into the “in” crowd). I learned
to turn that around and capitalize on what makes me stand out FROM the
crowd. I now cherish my uniqueness and have learned to make it work for
me in business.
- Stay creative and focused. Abraham
Lincoln said “give me 6 hours to cut a tree and I will spend 4 hours
sharpening the axe.” Continue to learn, innovate, grow, and bring your
best to the table every single time. All the social media, networking,
and advertising are a waste if you don’t have the tools to deliver. When
you’re prepared with the best tools then that tree doesn’t stand a