Businesses

Tory Johnson on Going from Getting Fired to Getting Fired-up

     

    By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

    "Once you have those initial sales, you’re not home free. It takes a long time until you can slow down and not panic as much."

    Tory Johnson landed her dream job: a publicity agent for ABC News. She thrived on the challenge and ever-changing workplace. Johnson thought she could stay in that position forever. Her firing in 1999 not only ended that position, but it also gave her what she calls the "permanent scar from the pink slip." Vowing to never work for someone else again, Johnson founded Women for Hire, a company that hosts career fairs for women in 20 countries nationwide.

    By tapping into what you love to do. What makes you tick? What makes you so wildly passionate and crazy that you wouldn’t give up when the going gets tough?

    Author of "Spark & Hustle: Launch and Grow your Small Business Now" and "Will Work from Home," Johnson also appears in weekly segments on Good Morning America. As she puts it, "I help people develop the clarity and confidence to pursue their own career success."

    Home Business Magazine recently spoke with her.

    Home Business Magazin (HBM): What is the greatest roadblock for people considering launching a home-based business?

    Tory Johnson: Knowing what they want to do is a big barrier. They often come to me asking what kind of business they should start.

    HBM: How does an entrepreneur figure out what to do?

    TJ: By tapping into what you love to do. What makes you tick? What makes you so wildly passionate and crazy that you wouldn’t give up when the going gets tough? Maybe it’s tied to a cause you care about or a product you know will change so many people. Dig deep and figure it out through clues in your past or something that people have always been complimenting you on and has been a hobby. Now you have to figure out a way to be paid for doing it.

    HBM: When start-up money is an obstacle, what can entrepreneurs do?

    TJ: First reduce expenses, and then worry about getting capital. Maybe you want a brand-new computer, but use one already in your house or buy a refurbished one. Use furniture you have already; don’t go out and buy new office furniture. Barter to have a website set up instead of paying someone. Figure out how you can get things for nothing or less. Challenge every penny before it’s spent. There are a lot of different ways to get capital. Concentrate on securing initial sales, and use those to fuel future growth. Put initial revenue back into the business. I don’t recommend mortgaging in this economy, but it can be smart. Indiegogo.com is something I recommend. Instead of an investment or loan, people who like what you’re doing can support it.

    HBM: You say that describing one’s business in a single sentence is important. Why?

    TJ: A lot of people say, "I need 10 minutes to describe it." You need a minute or 20 seconds. If people can’t get it in that time, it will be very hard for people to ever get it. If it takes 20 minutes, people won’t appreciate it.

    HBM: How can a home-based entrepreneur develop his or her sentence?

    TJ: Keep refining it. There’s no magic formula. Focus on the benefit and value to a target market. "We do blank for blank." Or, "We deliver blank for blank." It can be that simple. Describe the benefit and value and who it’s for.

    HBM: What are the top mistakes when launching a home business?

    TJ: Overspending or assuming they can’t get going unless they have boatloads of cash. Lack of focus on sales and making sure every "t" is crossed and every "i" is dotted before you sell anything. Magic happens when you’re doing something, and sales is doing something. It is especially hard for women to do sales. We want to work on our businesses instead of selling.

    HBM: Why is that?

    TJ: It’s why you started the business and why you love it. It’s more fun and easier than hustling to ask people for money. More businesses fail because of lack of sales than anything else. There are tons of businesses that are selling bad ideas but are successful. It’s more a lack of sales than anything else.

    HBM: What should home business entrepreneurs do after the business launch and initial sales?

    TJ: Sales are continuous. Sales are a daily challenge. Once you have those initial sales, you’re not home free. It takes a long time until you can slow down and not panic as much. The best organizations of all sizes don’t say, "We’re done with working on sales." If you own a small business, it’s all you think about 24-7. HBM

    Johnson and her husband, Peter, and their 15-year-old twins, Jake and Emma live in New York City.

    Deborah Jeanne Sergeant writes articles for newspapers and magazines, marketing materials and web copy from her home in Clyde, N.Y.  V19-6 Add:12/12 HP: 1/15/2013

     
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