When you start something—a business, a hobby, a new job—you’re open to anything that will help you succeed. At least, that was my approach when launching a sole proprietorship. I left business cards everywhere, from Starbucks to Hobby Lobby. I attended every networking event I could find that was free or reasonably priced. I reached out to every industry connection I had. I told everyone what I did for a living: family members, friends, acquaintances, strangers in my path.
I had little idea of what I was doing back then but more drive than ever. I didn’t know what would come of my efforts. In fact, sometimes I felt downright stupid sitting there talking to people who, after a couple of minutes of chatter, made it clear they didn’t care about anything I had to say.
Looking back now, I realize it was those everyday efforts—the incessant hustling—that enabled me to turn my vision into a sustainable business. I’ve learned through the years that every action adds up.
Let me give you an idea of what I mean:
-A couple years back, my husband was working three hours away on a large-scale project. He did this for 10 months, living in a hotel 4-5 days a week. I would go with him every other week and work out of the hotel. While in this new area I spotted a thrift store. I stopped in one afternoon and struck up a conversation with the owner. He’s been a client of mine ever since.
-When I first started my business in 2016, I was thinking about every connection I had. I decided to reach out to a woman I had met a while back (my husband and I bumped into her and her husband while out on a walk back when we lived in Connecticut). She turned out to be the Vice President of her own marketing firm. I gave her a ring and she put me in touch with another woman. That woman put me in touch with someone else who not only became my first paying client but provided me with two years of solid, recurring revenue.
-On a whim, I decided to reach out to an old corporate contact asking how she was doing. She replied that she had a couple of prospective clients in mind for me. One of those worked in my favor. I didn’t receive a heavy volume of work, but the work paid well.
There are ten more stories just like this that I can recall off the top of my mind. I have met clients at the dog park and at the beach. I have established strategic partnerships in the unlikeliest of places—all coming back around to work in my favor.
When I tell people these stories, I often get a sense of disbelief…not in me but in themselves. They doubt their own ability to foster connections that can help them grow and succeed when in reality we’re no different from one another. The only differences that exist are in perspective, confidence and persistence.
Things will not happen if you don’t believe they will. There has to be a small spark—a certain level of hope—that your persistence will pay off. You have to believe that every action and effort is meaningful and purposeful. Above all, you have to believe you’re worth it. That your story and vision are worth it. Otherwise, you’ll stay right where you are.
Put yourself out there. If you don’t take initiative, someone else will.
For more lessons on life and business, check out my book Life After Corporate: The Everyday Woman’s Guide to Entrepreneurship.