I’m sort of a career-a-holic. My last three jobs were in no way interconnected. I mean, I wasn’t a loan officer that went from one bank to the next. All three jobs were completely unrelated – at least on the surface – but they all brought me to where I am today.
Where am I today? College… again. It seems that most of us just aren’t very good at picking out a lifelong career in our late teens or early 20’s.
I mean, this is about as eclectic as it gets, right? Here is a look at my last three jobs, and what I learned from each. Each job got me to where I am today, and for that I’m grateful.
Server & Bartender
These jobs were your typical “I’m going to school” sort of jobs, and I didn’t expect either of them to wow me to the point where I wanted to stay long after graduation. In fact, I didn’t expect to stay nearly as long as I did, but I found that the job was easy, it paid well, and other than long hours on my feet or the occasional drunk that decided he wasn’t going to be taking the fact that I just cut him off and asked him to leave, lightly… it was okay.
What I learned. I learned how to deal with the public. I learned how to handle awkward situations that I truly didn’t want to be in (asking drunks to leave was particularly horrifying at first).
Social Media Marketing Specialist
My degree was in marketing, and it was only natural that after I graduated I should seek employment in what was supposed to be my forte, right? I worked this job for just over two years, and besides the awful pay and thankless work, I did learn a lot. I also learned that even though my degree was in marketing, I didn’t necessarily want to spend my life in this sort of environment.
What I learned. I learned how to formulate a plan and execute it. I learned how to deal with corporate hierarchy with a smile on my face. I learned that the office environment certainly wasn’t for everyone, and it seems that I was part of that group that wasn’t really quite right for an office.
It sounded interesting. I’ve always been into natural and alternative medicine, so one day I answered a help wanted ad at a local massage parlor. I started out answering phones, but over the next few months, I was trained in the art of massage and I really started to love it. After the parlor I was working for closed down six months later, I had to buy my own body massage oil and massage table. Eventually, I moved my business into my apartment . But what can I say, I was hooked. It seems that I had finally found my calling, and it was something that I was not only good at, but really loved doing.
What I learned. I learned that your degree doesn’t define you, and it shouldn’t be something that confines you to a particular career path that you are unhappy with. I learned that even when dealing with adversity, sometimes you can make the best out of it. That’s exactly what happened to me. My place of employment went belly up, and I snagged as many clients as I could and started my own traveling (or in-home) massage business.
So, why am I back in school? Well, I love the art of massage, and I think my marketing degree can help me to promote myself and attract new clientele. I’ve truly found something I good at, and something that I love doing so I thought it might be best to take a few business classes to fill in the gaps between alternative medicine and modern marketing.
I thought it was important to share this story because I’m just one of many that has passions outside of my chosen degree. The overwhelming theme for most of us should be to seek out our passions, find what makes us tick, and then find a way to make that work for us. Take what you learn from life, whether it be jobs, schooling, or just socializing, and apply it to how you want your life to look in the future. You can’t go wrong when you find ways to get paid doing what you love.
Many entrepreneurs don’t have sound negotiation skills, and surprisingly, they don’t even think they’re that necessary. Of course, they’ve never been more wrong. How can you run a business and expect huge profits if you can’t close deals with suppliers, investors and vendors? Business owners should be prepared to face all sorts of challenging situations, and if something happens you can’t always have your manager call the shots and fix the problem. That’s not a sensible way of running and company. Here are some vital tips for entrepreneurs who want to thrive and take their businesses to new heights.
Negotiating with employees is vital for business
New startups depend on employees, and since you can’t afford to pay them a lot of money, negotiating alternative incentives becomes a vital aspect. Companies, who are not interested in retaining employees, don’t have a shot at thriving. It’s important to be respectful with your people; listen to their needs and showcase asympathetic attitude. If you can’t raise their salaries, negotiate better terms. Offer them better working conditions, more vacation time, and so on. Put yourself in their shoes and relate to their needs and wants. This will bring a lot of value to your startup.
Negotiating with investors
As an enthusiastic entrepreneur with a dying wish to make his business succeed, negotiating with investors is crucial. Some will try to deceive you, while others will pleasantly surprise you. It’s best to be prepared for anything. Don’t allow them to intimidate you; they may have more experience than you, but this doesn’t mean they can take advantage of your naïveté. Some key aspects to have in mind:
- A deal should be satisfactory in proportion of at least 50% – never agree to a deal that can’t benefit your company
- Have a good lawyer present to deal with all the paperwork and offer advice
- Don’t over-negotiate – it’s really not a good idea to try too hard because you risk losing
- Pay close attention to body language – don’t let opponents observe your nervousness; look them straight in the eye
Practice, practice, practice
Most starting entrepreneurs don’t like to take risks. They’re constantly on the safe side – this means they’ll never move forward and in the end, the competition will eat them alive. Can you afford to take that risk? They say practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to make important decisions. Even if you make mistakes, they will serve you as an important lesson and will help you hone your skills.
A “No” can save your business
It’s never a good idea to walk away from a negotiation. However, you can’t agree to a bad deal either. If an investor comes with an offer that doesn’t bring you any benefit, saying “no” may save your company from disaster. Even if you’re walking away, be sure to keep your cool. Maintain a professional attitude and leave room for further discussions – “I’m sorry to say that your proposition can’t benefit our business, so we’re forced to decline; however, here’s our number. Feel free to give us a call anytime.” This sort of behavior is not just polite; it is meant to let an opponent know that you are willing to bargain, if some day they can offer a new deal.
The importance of compromise
Making concessions is a key aspect of business negotiations, especially for starting entrepreneurs. When you’re new to a market,you must use all the help that you can get to attain recognition. Win-win solutions help start ups build connections and foster relationships; that’s what entrepreneurs need to make themselves noticed. Compromise is good, as long as you’re not giving up too much. While it’s certainly a good idea to make “business friends”, this doesn’t mean accepting poor bargains.
Entrepreneurs should master the art of negotiations. They can do that by practicing, but they can also choose to attend negotiation workshops, seminars, and trainings. Listen to the experts, assess their style and learn from their mistakes. Never let counterparts intimidate you and try not to let your emotions get the best of you, no matter what. Whatever you do, always think in the best interest of your staff and company.
We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. —Ephesians 2:10
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Marshawn Evans is a Global Mentor and Catalyst for Women looking to Launch Their Dreams and Live Their Purpose. She equips others to AMPLIFY their lives, their leadership and their legacy by teaching the principles of influence, branding, and divine purpose. Her weekly eZine goes out to thousands of subscribers. Are you ready to unleash your brilliance and align with your REAL destiny? Sign up for a FREE subscription at http://marshawnevans.com.
Note: This is a guest post.