If You Can't Make a Living, How Can You Make a Difference?

by C.J. Hayden, MCC

What made you decide to go into business for yourself? Did you want to make more money, gain more freedom, enjoy yourself more, or make more of an impact on the world? For many independent professionals, the desire to help others as well as themselves plays a significant role in their decision. Helping people may even have been your primary motivation for choosing the type of work you do.

However, not all of us who set out to help others through our businesses succeed at it. In fact, many of the best-intentioned professionals fail at building a sustainable business or private practice. It seems that the skills and mindset of helping others don't always match those needed to build a profitable business.

If you're in business because you want to make a difference, help others, and contribute your unique gifts, you may be handicapped in marketing and sales because so much of your focus is on other people's desires and needs. You may feel that asking someone to buy from you is an imposition, that talking about yourself doesn't serve others, that self-promotion is somehow inappropriate if your primary aim is to help people.

But here's the reality. If you can't make a living doing what you do, you won't be able to make a difference. If people don't hire you, you don't get to share your gifts. If no one knows your business exists, you won't have the opportunity to help people. If your business fails, you'll have to go back to making a living some other way, and never get a chance to make the impact you know that you could.

As long as you're stuck in the struggle of not quite making a living, not only are you not making an impact with your business, you are held back from making one in other ways too. You don't have enough time available to volunteer for causes you believe in. You don't have the money to support those causes with donations. You may not even be able to adequately support those most important to you -- your family.

When you look at the disparity between your present situation and your goals in that light, you may begin to see that perhaps sales and marketing is not such a selfish endeavor. When the purpose of your business is to help people, letting more people know what you do contributes to much more than your own pocketbook.

In the standard airline safety briefing, they advise that in case of emergency, you should put on your own oxygen mask first. What would happen if you began to look at marketing this way? To be in a position to serve other people, you must be able to sustain yourself. When your own survival is guaranteed, you'll have the strength, resources, and peace of mind to assist others.

The next time you find yourself fearful, resistant, or immobilized about marketing, remember that you are not in business for yourself alone. Picture in your mind's eye the people you most want to serve. Visualize how you can make a difference in the world by helping more people. Determine that your business will not only survive, but thrive, so that your gifts will be allowed their fullest expression. In order to truly help others, you may first need to help yourself.

Copyright © 2005, C.J. Hayden

C.J. Hayden is the author of Get Clients Now!™ Thousands of business owners and independent professionals have used her simple sales and marketing system to double or triple their income. Get a free copy of "Five Secrets to Finding All the Clients You'll Ever Need" at www.getclientsnow.com.


tiptopshapeover40.com said...

Your post really resonates! All too often in the transition to retirement, you don't take care of yourself first, making the transition difficult. Your focus for many years has been on others: raising a family, running a business. Yet the transition into retirement needs to first have a focus on you, so you can determine what your own success will look like. This allows you to enjoy a happy, healthy life for many years to come!
Tracey Fieber
Retirement Transition Expert
If you're looking for proven ways to transition into retirement, visit www.NewFaceOfRetirement.com for free articles, strategies and info on private coaching and retirement programs.

Get the free report "Retirement Secrets That Turn Dreams into Success".
Creator of "Secrets to Retirement Success Blueprint System(tm)"

Helping corporate executives and entrepreneurs discover your true passions for your next stage in life, retirement.

Deb said...

Deb, thank you so much for sharing this! I can definitely relate to this message...

Recently I've had to redefine my image in order to 'sell' it more effectively. Hard as it is for me to promote myself as much as I promote others, I can't fulfil my goal of helping others if I am not in business. I'm printing this post and keeping it on my bulletin board as a reminder...

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