Networking how-to: build a big business

I was so pumped up on Sunday, having returned from my annual business coaching session with my brilliant neighbor, Ted. He is so profoundly intelligent, wise and knowledgeable. It’s hard to believe he’s a just one human being. I am incredibly blessed to have him in my network. It’s also very convenient to have him living next door to me as a neighbor and friend.

  • Ted was also the unofficial editor of my first book, Networking Ahead for Business. Without his magic touch, this book content would have been “all over the place.” He helped me tighten it up and reduce the overall length of the book. Thank you Ted!

“Where do you want to be?”

Ted started off our coaching session with the same question he always asks me: Where do you want to be with your business? Are you happy making what you have been making or do you want something more?

I was nervous to share my real goal with him. It seemed so very unrealistic. It felt like the moment of truth. Time to go out on a ledge and declare my ambitious. I boldly stated my intent. Then I quickly tried to tell him why I wanted to do that.

He wasn’t interested in my WHY or my long, boring back story of how I got to where I am today. He was there to help me figure out how to get where I wanted to go with my business. I like that about Ted.

Ted told me that I had to have a transformation in my thinking. I was no longer an “employee” and needed to shift from being self-employed to thinking more like a business owner would think or how an investor would think. He shared the “cash flow quadrant” concept that he had learned from Robert Kiyosaki author of Rich Dad – Poor Dad.

Which category do you currently reside in?

I took copious notes from our coaching session. Below is one of the sketches that Ted made on a clean sheet of paper. He told me that my challenge was to go from the S to the B category. It looked easy enough on paper, but the reality of making it happen, is of course, an entirely different matter.

Out of curiosity, in which category do you currently reside? Do you consider yourself an employee, small business owner, large business or investor, or some combination of these? Are you happy there? Do you want something more or different for yourself and your team?


A transformation in thinking

Ted said that attaining this goal of building a large business would require a serious commitment as well as a larger investment. He outlined the following requirements. In short, building a large business will require a serious amount of work and a fair amount of risk.

Here is what he advised me to do:

  1. Spend my time building a system for the service, rather than delivering all the service myself;
  2. Diversify my revenue sources;
  3. Expand my geographic reach;
  4. Create the infrastructure to support a larger organization;
  5. Develop a strong aptitude for: 1) systems thinking: 2) developing people; 3) rainmaking skills (sales and marketing prowess); and 4) become a fierce negotiator;
  6. Put in serious sweat equity. He estimated about 60-85 hours of work per week to turn this dream into a reality.

Few people actually WANT to do the work

Towards the end of our business coaching session, Ted told me a story about a friend of his who was an expert in fish. He knew everything about fish and had the integrity and business scruples that differentiated him from his slimy competitors (pun intended). This guy also took business counsel from Ted, who at the time was a banker. The guy had big dreams and a lot of promise. He could have built a very large and prosperous fish business. But in the end, he wasn’t willing to do the work.

Ted said “few people are willing to do the work.”

“Another thing to remember,” Ted continued, “There is no good or bad, no right or wrong way to do it. You just have to find out if you WANT to do it. Your success will be determined by what goes on in your thinking, more so than what goes on in the external market.”

Your Networking Goal for the Week

Whether you are interested in building a large business or a large career or you are set on changing the world in a large and profound way, you must have a transformation in your thinking. And yes, you may need some help with that.

This week, see if you can identify a mentor or business coach in your network who can help you map out the information and resources (internal and external) that you will need to realize your goals. Start with the question “Where do you want to be?” and then let the conversation go from there. Dreaming is the first step. But goal attainment will require you to take action. It will require you to do the work.

So the question is: are you willing to do the work required? If not, quit complaining about where you are and learn to be content.

p.s. Get to know your neighbors. You never know how you might be able to help each other in business and in life.

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