Most people wouldn't know this about me, but I have social anxiety. Panic attacks included. When I think about it, it seems completely irrational to me. I am a teacher, after all. I have zero, zip, zilch fear of giving speeches, being in front of a classroom or talking to people...when they approach me. Ask the guy at Safeway where the Cheerios are? Piercing my ears with a dull needle would be less painful. Make a phone call to pretty much anyone? I'll take the root canal, please. Walk into a store and ask them if they would be interested in selling my products? Kill me now.
It's the last one that has me writing this post today. I love what I do and I know the products I create are wonderful, but...I. Can't. Sell. And if you are going to own a retail store, be able to promote the business, and have any hope of it being successful, you just have to be able to go out and make the sale. So what's a fear and anxiety riddled girl to do?
Make a little, sell a little, take small steps.
3M Corporation Creed
3M Corporation Creed
1. Focus on all the things I can do, rather than dwell on the things I can't do. I made a list. You know what? There are lots of things I can do and things that I am really good at. Now, how am I going to use those qualities to my advantage? I made a list for that too!
2. Remove the word CAN'T from my vocabulary. This one is easier said than done. When I feel that paralyzing fear take over my entire body it really does feel like I physically can't do something. But the word is so limiting - when you say it, you are telling yourself, "Nope, not even going to try." And I really do want to be able to do it. So it isn't that I can't, but that it is just really hard for me.
3. Say it loud, say it proud! Part of the fear is admitting I have the fear. So I am telling everyone. Friends, especially. I have received so much encouragement and offers to help, it is truly amazing. Which brings me to part B: accept said offers of help! Yes, please.
4. Do one thing each day in facing my fear - no matter how small. In a meeting last week, I was sitting next to a local business person I want to talk to about selling my products. I proceeded to have a conversation with her...in my head. At that moment, it was enough and the next moment, it will be more.
5. Start with the people that I know will not say no. This is the first cousin to 3 and 4, but I thought it deserved its own number - because as obvious as this one sounds, it is still one I get hung up on. Face it, when a friend rejects your business idea it is both a personal rejection and a business rejection, right?? Wrong! First of all, some of them have already offered to help, their yes is already in the bag. Secondly, will we still be friends, even if they say no? Of course we will!
6. Take advantage of all the opportunities that happen inside my comfort zone. I can talk to you for days about my products - as long as you initiate the conversation, or walk into my store, or check out my booth at the market. This is my comfort zone, but I still miss thousands of opportunities to ask for the sale.
This goal also includes bringing up my business in casual conversation. Yesterday, at the grocery store, I ran into another mom I know. We started talking about coupons and summer vacation. She has a daughter that is the perfect age to enjoy the Soap Bar, so I suggested she bring her in with some friends this summer and I handed her my business card. She hadn't even heard of Soapendipity, but agreed that her daughter would love it. How many of these opportunities do I miss out on every day? Tons! And it really wasn't that hard.Why am I sharing all of this with you?
"The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen."
That, and it goes along with #3 very nicely, don't you think? As I am writing this, it does occur to me that it probably won't be one of my most read posts. I mean, it is long, there are no pictures, it is long, it is pretty much all about me, and it is long. But, in the off chance you have made it this far, I would love it if you would share with me what you have done to overcome your fears.