Stedman Graham on How Creating One’s Own Identity Bolsters Success
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Stedman Graham, founder of S. Graham & Associates, specializes in management and marketing consultations within the corporate and educational markets. His New York Times bestsellers include You Can Make It Happen and Teens Can Make It Happen, each with his “Nine Steps to Success” plan.
|“You have to have A plans, B plans, and C plans, and they should all be aligned with your core of your business.”|
The long-time beau of media mogul Oprah Winfrey, Graham released in April Identity: Passport to Freedom which explains how creating one’s own identity bolsters success in life. The book is a Wall Street Journal bestseller. Home Business Magazine® recently spoke with Graham.
Home Business Magazine (HBM): What are the top three biggest barriers to home-based entrepreneurs reaching their income goals, and how can they overcome them?
Stedman Graham (SG): The top three are:
One: The ability to grow beyond the space that you’re in because the marketplace, depending upon your vision, limits the space you’re in. To overcome this, be creative in that space and enjoy yourself but don’t let that be a barrier.
Two: There’s a certain amount of comfort you get locked into. Maintain a certain schedule, because you’re not in an office environment. Especially if you’re right-brained and creative, you like the home environment because you’re more into the big picture, visionary, and emotional. You don’t have the process-oriented bent in your mind. Those who are left-brained most of the time can maintain structure. You have to know what you need to be successful. Determine what you need to maintain a strong work ethic. How much can you produce in that environment?
Three: Public perception when people come to visit if you have clients come to visit. The package of your business is very important. Make sure you have a strong brand, and make sure the brand doesn’t represent the space of the business or the fact that you’re home. You can also have meetings outside of your home to give the impression that you’re serious.
HBM: Explain the “identity” element and why it’s important for achieving success.
SG: It’s your foundation for growth and development. It’s your base from which you organize everything. For most businesses, it’s important to have a voice and to know what you’re selling and branding. The most important thing people miss is “What is your message to the world and how do you set that to ideology that people can identify with?” It’s your “elevator speech.” You can organize the information and make it relevant to a lot of different people if you’re clear and concise.
HBM: What can home entrepreneurs do when they hit a wall such as a lack of market for their business, lack of funding, or a competitor that undersells them?
SG: This is the day of diversification. We have to be able to diversify through revenue streams and service offerings and not lose your brand and identity. Have things that are related to who you are and what your passions are and what your business model represents. You can expand that to create more sales opportunities, distribution, and alliances so you don’t rely upon just one thing. You have to go after business today. You can’t sit and wait for the phone to ring. It’s a global market. You’re competing with all of these other countries that are trying to build their middle class and be more competitive with the United States in skill development.
HBM: Who should be on a home entrepreneur’s “Dream Team”?
SG: The dream team is predicated on his/her career, and it should be people who have an interest in your specific area. It can be friends, family, or your other people who support your philosophy. You don’t have to do business together. Sometimes I need a sounding board. Not many people may even understand your business. You need people who can give sound advice who understand what you’re doing. Sometimes you just need support and someone to say, “Just keep going. I’m so proud of you.” You need that motivation. It’s important to have family, your kids, and friends to be part of your dream team.
HBM: How does an entrepreneur balance committing to his/her vision while staying flexible enough to manage changes in the market and his/her own definition of success?
SG: You have to have A plans, B plans, and C plans, and they should all be aligned with your core of your business so it relates. Does it relate and can you systematically relate so it’s a different market for you? Stay focused and consistent, and maintain growth in the marketplace. Business is tough today; you have to have a lot of determination and work, especially in this economy. HBM
Deborah Jeanne Sergeant writes from her home in Clyde, N.Y. Visit her online at www.skilledquill.net. V19-4 Add: 9/12 HP: Car: 9/13/12