Five Steps To Success (written December, 2010)

So you’ve decided that you’re going to be successful. Here are some steps to get you jump-started, help you overcome the obstacles and speed you along your way.

#1) Develop A Strategy To Win. Go where your chances are greatest. If you have a lot of competition, you’d better have extraordinary talents and/or connections. Instead of running with the herd, find a territory where you have a greater chance of success. It may be the job that nobody else wants, the service other people find unpleasant, the product people need but may not talk much about. Don’t expect overnight success. Carefully plot the different stages. Find the best starting point and map out the steps that will get you where you want to be. Celebrate small victories along the way. Reward yourself and let others know too when you’ve done a good job. Have you found a new way to solve a problem? Advertise what you’ve learned. If you’ve reached a certain level in sales volume that your company or supplier recognizes, let your local newspaper know as well. Also share your successes with members of your family, club, chamber of commerce and church.

#2) Know What You’re Up Against and Work To Overcome It. Maybe you face obstacles because of your age, gender, ethnic or racial background. Be aware that various kinds of discrimination exist and you should try to understand how serious it is in your field of endeavor. Don’t let it keep you from doing what you want to do, but recognize that you’ll probably have to be better than average. If you’re in sales being a member of a minority group can be turned into an advantage. By concentrating on the target market you’re actually part of you have a niche of your own.

#3) Don’t Spend Too Long Preparing. While nothing is more valuable than good, solid training, see that you don’t spend your whole life preparing for something in the future.  At some point you have to realize that the future is now, get on with your life, and put your skills to use in earning a living developing a business. Continue taking evening classes or correspondence courses if you like. Don’t stop learning, but do start developing good work habits and earning money.

#4) Be Brutally Honest With Yourself. Know what your abilities and liabilities are. Think back to jobs or classes where your talents stood out. Also remember the times you had to struggle to keep up. If you haven’t had a lot of life experience put yourself in situations where you can see how your abilities compare with those of other people in your field. If there’s an opportunity to take aptitude tests at a local trade school or community college, by all means do so. Your chances of success are greater if you do something you do well. Or at least something that doesn’t call on skills you clearly don’t have. Know if you’re a builder or a fixer. Some people have the unique combination of skills to start and develop a business. Others are better off with the security of regular employment, collecting regular paychecks, working on a team and helping to fix things.

#5) Know A Good Opportunity When You See One. As time goes on, you’re almost certain to face opportunities you hadn’t reckoned on. Don’t accept something just because it sounds good.  Check out every opportunity that comes your way. Ask yourself how it fits in with your overall plans. Does it get you closer to your ultimate goals? Is it a real stepping stone? Or would it sidetrack you from the path you know you should be on? Don’t get sidetracked from your most important goals.  Try to discover too if an opportunity entails risk or offers stability. A job with great pay may not be a great job if it only lasts a short while. On the other hand, a job with the possibility of a big payoff probably won’t offer much security.  Learn to size-up the people who present you with opportunities. Why are they making you an offer? What’s in it for them? Be skeptical of anything that sounds too good to be true. (It usually is.)

Use these five steps to help you get jump started. God luck!

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.