One of the greatest joys of leading the Indie Business Network is the fact that I have a front row seat to watch so many women from all across North America grow in wisdom and confidence as they lead their businesses into the future.
I sat down recently and contemplated the character traits and habits that stand out most when it comes to our happiest and most successful members. It wasn't hard to come up with ten of them. Here they are.
1. They are giving
Indie Business Network members practice the art of giving before they get. If it's not a habit to give before getting when they join, we do our best to encourage that behavior. An example of this took place recently when a member was having trouble editing a new head shot photo. Kathy Dannel Vitcak took it upon herself to open up Photoshop and whip up a few edits that produced a lovely result. She didn't say she was going to do it, she just did it. It was a wonderful experience to see how excited and grateful the member who needed help was when she saw the new image. Kathy's actions uplifted the entire membership.
2. They are always growing
This afternoon, Cassandra Tucker of Divine Purity in Tennessee shared an encouraging note that ended like this: “Growing my business has grown me.” If you know me at all, you know how that touched my heart. As great as it is to grow a business, the truth is that entrepreneurship is the best personal development tool on the planet. Nothing builds your confidence as a leader like owning and managing a business. Cassandra has discovered that, and so has ever single IBN member who has participated in our events and used the resources IBN provides.
3. They are enthusiastic
Last month, Alice Lin of Wonderland Organics took a class from Kenna Cote at Modern Soapmaking, at The Nova Studio in San Francisco. She was so excited to meet Kenna and learn from her that she posted the below picture in our private group to share her enthusiasm. This happens a lot in our membership. For example, here and here. We are not just growing businesses, we are growing relationships, and when you're building strong bonds, there is always a reason for enthusiasm.
4. The are curious
Each month, I host a private member call designed to give members an opportunity to get the answers to their most pressing business questions. Multiple dozens of members join these monthly “Q+A Access Coaching Calls”, and many hundreds more listen to the audio recordings. We cover every entrepreneurial topic there is, answering questions about social media, customer service, relationship building, cold calling, branding, trademarks, copyrights, Yelp damage control, family business dynamics, etc. You name it, we cover it. My members ask questions. And the more they ask questions, the smarter they become.
5. They care about more than money
Indie Business Network members know how important it is to remain profitable in business, but they also know that money is not the only reason they are in business. I cannot tell you how many of them have passed up lucrative opportunities to sell their businesses, open new locations (like retailer Deb Jasien in New Hampshire) or close up shop in favor of a well paying traditional job. While there is nothing wrong with making any of those choices, my members think beyond the dollar. They have the best of all worlds — making as much money as they want to make and using it to enjoy the freedom of living life on their own terms. There is nothing better than that.
6. They are creative
My members have this attribute in spades. From candles to cakes, from necklaces to nail polish, from pepper grinders to perfume … if it can be artisan made, then at least one Indie Business Network members makes and sells it. You can take a look at their awesome products and search for and browse the ones you are most interested in at the new Shop Indie Makers.
7. They are honest
Recently, an especially courageous member shared a deep vulnerability with us in our private Facebook group. Among other things, she felt like a failure and was seriously contemplating closing up her business. Over 100 supportive comments, containing everything from uplifting quotes to links to articles to help re-boot success were shared as a result of this member's sincere and honest sharing. I ended up hosting a special one-time teleconference just to allow everyone an opportunity to share and encourage each other.
Entrepreneurship is not easy. We all feel like we have failed and many of us are especially sensitive. We all develop that “think skin” that entrepreneurs need to be successful, but sometimes, there is a prick in the skin and we need support. The type of honest sharing that is typical of many of my members allows these amazing moments to take place. Everyone benefited.
9. They are customer focused
A few months ago, our member, Jennifer Waller at Celtic Complexion in North Carolina, received a return order from a customer who was not satisfied with her purchase. Instead of simply processing the return (Jennifer hardly ever has her products returned), Jennifer returned the products and also asked the customer what products she preferred. The customer named a competing line, and Jennifer immediately purchased an assortment of that line's products and had them shipped to her customer. Now THAT's being customer focused, yes!?
Not only did Jennifer's action make her customer happy, but it also resulted in the customer posting glowing comments on Jennifer's Facebook page and als sending he name that said, among other things: “You have raised the bar so high, that you will be the standard to which I measure all other companies from now on!” Wouldn't we all like to be known that way?!
10. They not ashamed of their success
While newer members are a bit shy about promoting themselves, I and more seasoned members do what we can to get them out of that as quickly as we can. No matter what you sell, if you do not know how to blow your horn, your business will die on the vine. What a shame it is when someone has a great product or service, but is not willing to tell the world about it, and so they die with their dream business still living inside them. I have seen this happen to many times, and in truth, that is one of the many reasons why I started the Indie Business Network in the first place.
My artist friend and fellow entrepreneur, Pierre Bennu, once described me as an entrepreneurial midwife. The fact that I help so many women appreciate their gifts and not be timid abut sharing them with the world must be one of the reasons why.
Don't you want to be surrounded by people like this all day long, all your life? Of course you do! That's why you should join IBN … or if you have already joined, you can join here. Or if you don't want to join, then buy some stuff! If you have not joined, why not? What can I offer you that need but don't get anywhere else? Please do share your favorite apps in the comments below, or share on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.