When I entered the workforce, I sought experiences that would teach me vital skills for the future and build my confidence. Although many of my peers wanted to find jobs at companies that would carry them to retirement, I wanted to rely on myself and become a successful entrepreneur.
During the first ten years of my career, I focused on honing the skills that would make me a successful business owner. Ultimately, I learned that I needed to excel at two things: sales and relationships.
In the beginning stages of a business, the owner is usually the number-one sales person, as I was during the first five years of my commercial printing business and during all three years of my financial recruiting business. Successful entrepreneurs are savvy sales people who understand their customers’ needs and offer the most effective, compelling solutions to meet them.
Good sales people also have good people skills. Unless you want to be the only person in your business, you need to be able to work cooperatively with others and build strong relationships based on trust and respect. The more people you can successfully recruit, develop, manage and lead, the more you can accomplish and the more economic value you can generate.
The most important lesson I have learned in my career is this: Choose work experiences not for their prestige or short-term gain, but rather for their ability to equip you with the skills for success and the opportunities to practice them.