It used to be that if you had the skills, the time, and the availability you had a good chance of being a successful business person in your community. If you were a handyman, you did work for your neighbors. If you were a factory worker, you were employed at the nearest manufacturing plant. If you were a good sales person, you sold whatever to whomever and made a pretty substantial income.
Or so I've been told.
You see I live and operate in a different world than that, always have. I'm twenty four years old—a millennial. Because of my age, I've never experienced a job market such as the one above. The rules have changed and what that means for you and I is that GOOD is no longer acceptable. Just because you have a good degree, a good car, experience, or a camera does not make you the most qualified for the job. It's not enough to be good, you have to be excellent (for more on this read Linchpin by Seth Godin).
When my dad was younger he had a newspaper route, after that he sold advertising for a newspaper in his town. From the newspaper he then sold ads for a radio station that eventually turned into a television and radio station...it was a natural progression. The formula was simple: show up, do your work, and get promoted—he did. Later he left the broadcasting industry to join the world of finance where he continued to excel year after year eventually landing a position as a regional VP for a large and profitable financial institution headquartered in San Francisco, Ca.
Fast forward to 2014 and friends of mine are still struggling to find jobs utilizing the degrees they received from graduate and masters programs!
Now what does this have to do with sales? Well it's not just the job market that has changed, the whole way our economy works has changed. When you are looking to hire someone to repair your roof you no longer hire your handyman neighbor to do it. You ask around, you do some searching online, but not for just any handyman, you search for the best quality at the lowest price because you can! And why wouldn't you!
So now it comes to you. You're a writer, a photographer, an instructor, a consultant and you're struggling to sell your product, service, or knowledge because there are a thousand other people just like you that are doing the same thing. Which for the most part works, because just as there are a thousand people like you and I, there are a thousand other people looking to hire you and I.
But remember It's not enough to be just be GOOD, you must excel, you must stand out, you must give people a reason to care about what you're doing other than you're good at it. The best way to get someone to like your business on Facebook is to give them a reason to want to like you on Facebook other than you asked them to.
Are you trying to get work as a photographer? Stop taking good photos like everyone else. Are you trying to design the next big-hit social media app? Stop trying to remake the current ones. Do you want to sell artwork? Get the hell off Society 6 and Etsy where there a 1,000,000 other artists selling the exact same thing and create your own storefront where people that care about you can come and support you and the mission you have!
If you want people to be interested in what you do, you either better become the absolute best in your field or figure out a way to make people care about what it is you do.
I don't really like lemonade, but I love lemonade stands—you know why? Because the little girl and boy are selling lemonade so that they can earn enough money to get a family dog! I can support that.
I don't really like to spend a lot of money on groceries, but I pay more money for organic eggs, organic fruit and vegetables—you know why? Because I believe it's better for me to not put pesticides in my body! I'll support that.
I don't like to be squished in the middle seat on an unassigned Southwest airplane (I'm 6'5"), but I love how they run their business and I like what they're about. So I'll give them my money instead of Delta because I care more about getting to my destination than about getting a free chocolate chip cookie aboard.
Do something people get behind and you'll be amazed at what they will support you in! Don't be good—be great and make something that people can get behind, because it's no longer good enough to just be good at what you do. Make great art!
If you're interested in something extra and have not seen it before, spend twenty minutes watching this TED talk from Seth Godin on "How to get your ideas to spread".