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Startup Business Tip: Just Ask

Startup Business Tip - Just Ask

It's hard to believe that I used to be shy. And I mean Talia Shire as Adrian in the movie Rocky shy. (Ok, well maybe not that much, but pretty close). Years ago I resisted going after some things in life because I felt I didn't deserve them. I didn't ask certain questions because I was afraid to hear the answer. Looking back I realize that is no way to live. I truly felt like a prisoner just waiting for my chance to break free. Being limited by one's thoughts is the same as being chained down. The only way to feel the awesome power of freedom is to break the chains, hop the wall, and make a run for it at any cost. Do you remember being a kid and walking by a toy store window? It was easy to look at the things you wanted to have through the glass. You could envision them in your hands and the joy they would bring you. But you never could touch because the cost was too high. In business, it took me years to build up the courage to begin asking for what I really wanted. It took even longer to begin asking the right questions. Instead of asking, "Can I get it?”, I should have been asking, "What is required of me in order to get it?"—two simple questions with vastly different answers. The first question puts a fork in the road and tricks your mind into thinking it may not be possible. The other puts you in the state of mind that it can be yours, but you must take action in order to acquire it. Business is about action. More importantly, it's about taking action in the correct manner, with the correct steps. When you build something of value, every person you meet is a potential customer, partner, or a connector to one of the two. Sometimes, they are a combination. That is why you must wear your business on your sleeve and show the world what you have to offer. Along the way there will be certain people shuffled to the front. Some will be your customers, or people wanting to help, or people who have the ability to put you on a better path. When these people show up, don't waste the opportunity. This is where you must do what I could not do initially—just ask for what you want. Ask for the sale, ask for help, and ask if they know anyone who is looking for what you offer. It's amazing what opens up to you when you ask the right questions to the right people. Sure, you will get some answers that you don't want to hear, but that makes the ones that do go your way all the more exciting and memorable. Recently, I began helping out with a swimming pool business in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, PA named Superior Pools. On one of my first days working with them, I saw that one of their customers was Marc-Andre Fleury from the Pittsburgh Penguins. First of all, I am a huge fan of the Penguins and "The Flower". My first question was, "Have you ever asked for a testimonial from him?” I was shocked to hear the answer was “No”. As a big believer in the importance of word-of-mouth referrals, I realize that a testimonial from a celebrity can be very beneficial to any company. So I picked up the phone and gave him a call. There I am calling one of the best goalies in the NHL. I know basically nothing about his experience with the company. I know even less about swimming pools. (I thought pH and Alkalinity were just symbols I saw on the opening scenes from Breaking Bad.) However, none of that really matters. What matters is the health of Superior Pools. And kind words from him could positively impact Superior Pools in more ways than one. The way I saw it, even if one Penguins fan decided to buy from Superior Pools because of his words that could lead to a $70K sale or residual income for years to come. I had to ask him. I understand how foolish I could look by asking a customer for help. After all, who wants to bother people? The last thing you want to do is alienate a paying customer, right? Well, the way I saw it Superior Pools provided amazing value to him. They fixed and cleaned an important fixture at his house. It was important to hear his feedback because outside feedback is the only way to evaluate one's abilities. And so like I said, I called him. I finished my ham sandwich, wiped away the chocolate milk dripping from my chin, and dialed his number. Of course I got his voicemail! He is probably taking slap shots from Sidney Crosby and the gang right now, I thought. Why would he answer an unknown number? So I left a voicemail as smoothly as I could. To be honest it felt like one of those “Hail Mary” phone calls. You know, like a phone number you get from a girl you meet at the bar and the first time you call her, you get the voicemail. So much is riding on every word and in the manner with which you say it. Much like those Hail Mary tosses, I figured the chances are slim that I would ever hear back. Well, sometimes the Hail Mary works. Marc Andre Fleury called back, and let me be clear about this, he could not have been nicer. He was approachable, accepting, and willing to help us. He told me he would write a testimonial and send it as soon as possible. I thanked him for his help and concluded with a "Go Pens". Two days later, he sent me the testimonial and it showed how much he appreciates all that Superior Pools does for him. Examples like this are why "Just ask" is a motto any entrepreneur can live by. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you do ask, and you get a yes, you might have something you can hold onto for the rest of your life.

It's so important to ask the right people the right questions:

The next time you feel yourself being boxed in by your own beliefs and becoming a prisoner of your own limits, ask yourself what it takes to feel that sense of freedom again. When you walk by a store window and see something you want, just ask yourself what would be required for you to get it. The next time you see an opportunity to make a great business connection, just ask. Sometimes it’s the only way to get the answer that your business needs and deserves.

See what I mean?

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