Top Lessons I learned In Business & As A Salesperson

The first “Job” Job I ever had

When I was 21, I started an online distribution company on Amazon.  I was working for this shady distribution company acting as their “Purchasing Manager” for like $15 dollars an hour.  They wanted me to get contacts for brands like MAC cosmetics, designer fragrances, coach bags, and other high end accounts.  My role was to buy at wholesale then ship oversees where the product was scarce and make a huge markup at the other offices.  It was super shady because we were dealing with an international Singapore office and selling goods that were unauthorized by the brands in certain locations.  Basically dealing in a gray market.  Turns out the whole beauty distribution industry is super shady in this regard.  Rather than discount certain goods to the public, companies like MAC cosmetics or Proctor & Gamble will sell to third party distributors old and unsold products, who will then sell it again to online sellers, third party shops and overseas.  So all those Ebay and Amazon stores selling cosmetics and goods are not necessarily fake, but are likely old product that’s been cycled through different distributors.

 I eventually had a contact for MAC cosmetics and decided to be bold and use it for my own use and become an Amazon pro-seller.  The money was just calling me.  I couldn’t help but think if I start selling this stuff people would buy it.  This was my first experience working for myself and being an entrepreneur.   My online store  was for cosmetics and our main item for sale was MAC Cosmetics. You wouldn’t believe how popular MAC is online, we had this wholesaler who would sell it to us. (I swear it was authentic). That was literally the only thing we would sell. I sold 80k worth of it within the first year.

Well I guess we didn’t tip the wholesaler enough because he stiffed us on the product and wouldn’t sell to us any more.

All the other product out there to buy was pretty much garbage and not giving us a high enough profit margin to make the effort.

After that I closed the business but I learned a few good lessons about owning a business:

  1. Never go into business with a friend.
    1. It sounds fun at first but it’sa recipe for disaster. I had worked with her at the distribution company and it was a lot of fun.  I felt guilty for taking the contact and profiting on my own, when my best friend was sitting right next to me.  We had very different approaches to the business though.  She wanted to cash out too early so we were never able to reinvest or grow the company. If our orders were growing, it would have been more worthwhile for the supplier and he would have been less likely to drop us like that. We were unknowingly wasting his time by making him fill our small orders twice a month.
  2. Always tip the people who help you make money
    1. It’s just good karma and it good at relationship building. You won’t believe how good “You’ll scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” strategy works.  I was so stupid to not give a nice Christmas bonus, like it’s such an obvious thing to do. When when your young and trying to start a business with absolutely no money, every dollar counts, but the dollars you spend on the people who help you be successful are the most important to spend.
  3. Never rely on one source of income or client for your business.
    1. When the MAC supply ran dry so did our business. We never bothered to diversify. We could have done videos on makeup or promoted our own products. But we never got that far.
    2. I’ve also read about other people making this mistake like YouTubers and Insta Influencers using only one platform to make their connections.  This is obviously risky since you are not in charge of the overall platform and if they decide to shut you down because of a “policy violation,” well then you’re SOL.

Lessons I learned From Being A Salesperson

When I stopped doing what the other salespeople were doing that’s when it clicked and I started to do so much more business.  There are 10,000 licensed real estate salespeople in  NYC.  There are only so many rental and sales deals for all those agents.  The reality is that not everyone will be successful in this industry and many are living hand to mouth and deal to deal.

They say 5% of salespeople make 80% of deals. To be the top sales person you need to do things other people aren’t willing to do or are too lazy to do.

In real estate that meant doing a mailing list. Many agents were too preoccupied with finding their next deal, they didn’t think ahead to do long term prospecting like email blasts and promotions.

I also prospected by cold calling leads for exclusives and following up relentlessly. All I needed was to have one door open and then I would snowball that opportunity into other opportunities.

Over time you want to create a snowball effect of success. Promoting yourself and showing off your accomplishments helps you get the confidence and business you need from new customers.  The snowball effect is probably the most important lesson I learned.  The more time you spend on a business, the more it should grow.  It should never be stagnant  unless there is a catastrophic economic collapse or recession.  The issue is that no one teaches you how to start the snowball.  In the beginning, it looks very small and almost useless to keep rolling.  Maybe a piece breaks off here and again there but over time all the cumulative effort you made over the years will be worth something, it will get stronger, and next thing you know you have a giant business! (Snowball!)

Once the snowball is huge, that’s when people notice you and give you more business with little prospecting.

Things that will help you grow your snowball:

  • Mailing lists and email blasts with all the contacts you’ve ever had
  • Cold calls
  • Holiday cards
  • Quality business cards
  • Neat  work space
  • Requesting referrals
  • Gifts at closing
  • Following up with service, doing surveys
  • Having a business plan and marketing plan
  • Being consistent with the above items

I hope you’ve found this post really useful. It was actually a discussion that I first started on Quora but it was so popular there, I decided to expand on the discussion.

Let me know your thoughts and feedback and feel free to follow, share and like.

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Work Smarter, Not Harder

I was writing a comment on this article.  The article was about being a type A personality and it inspired me to kind of dig deeper because this guy was writing about how he has like 3 jobs and is a perfectionist and easily works 16-17 hour days. And he was kind of promoting this as a normal thing to aspire for. That he was type A personality, a perfectionist that demanded so much from himself.

I was short and sweet with my comment but was basically like, “You need balance, dude! Work smarter, not harder!”

We live in a work culture that takes advantage of these types of people and pits the work horses against everyone else for the sake of production.  We don’t need to be promoting this type of behavior. Honestly, the writer was essentially sacrificing his relationships and health in the long term for more money short term. And that to me does not seem like a good deal.  I guess he had to think it over, but he eventually commented back that he was only working this hard to build for his future for his finance and cut down his debt and that he agreed that this current workload was not sustainable.

It really did make me think about the type of people I often find in my workplace vs the type of employee I wanted to be.

There are really 3 types of workers:

Lazy workers- Typical worker, makes up a majority of today’s work force. Doesn’t care to improve or grow professionally.  Happy with their slice of pie, only thinking about their salary increases and benefits. Looks at investments and business opportunities as too risky.

Hard workers- Time is money and these people tend to follow paper like it’s the gospel to life. They sacrifice all their personal relationships, free time, hobbies to work. These work horses generally are high earners in their company but leverage their salary for more responsibility and more hours. They are also adverse to risk and are only going to consider investments and business endeavors if it will reap quick money.

Smart workers- leverage their experience and time for more money. Unlike hard workers, who sacrifice time for money in positions that they are easily replaced in, smart workers focus on long term career growth ands specialize in niche areas that will be of great use and high demand. Or they recognize their unique experience to be valuable and come up with a business idea that blows up.

I think the difference between the three workers is really just attitude. The lazy worker is the worst, they are not really able to see beyond themselves and their long term contributions to their work. They don’t have the ambition or drive to give extra and see what it reaps. They often hold the belief that they are hard working enough and that they should get better pay for just being there. They often exhibit bad habits like lateness, lack of detail, lack of effort, a disinterest in the work.

My previous receptionist was this type of worker, I had mentioned her in a previous post. Her issue was that she knew the work but would “pretend” to forget or not know in order to lighten her workload. Over time this worked she had the easiest role in the office, leaving at 6 when me and our manager would often leave at 7. But when my asst. director came in to restructure the office, it became obvious she was the weak link to our production, so she was the first to be cut and the easiest to replace.

My old manager was a hard worker she would make sure all deadlines and reports were complete, it would be so detailed. Everything had to be perfect. Any reports that she did would take hours to compile. Her work was correct but at the end of the day none of the directors had the time to actually review it in depth so it went unnoticed.   She was also a shrew that made sure she had a majority of all the deals so between the deals she had to close and the detailed reports she had to do, she was working 60 hours a week. Yes, she was making more money. But she was also working more hours and putting more effort to make more money. She wasn’t any happier either. For all that money she was making, she wasn’t enjoying it and she eventually pushed herself out of a good job with her self-created discontent.

I think the happiest kind of employment, the one I aspire for, is to be a smarter worker. I think it takes a lot of self awareness to pick which traits are marketable and in demand.  I also think courage to take take that skill and make it a business, especially if no one else has done that before.  And I think it takes a lot of confidence to put a price on those skills and stick to it.

When I was an rental agent , there were other agents charging less than a months rent in commission.  They were undercutting a lot of agents.  Considering you had to pay the brokerage a piece of your deals, taxes, and other business expenses, that basically meant that those brokers had to work on a high volume basis.  They were spinning their wheels, showing apartment after apartment in the summer heat.  They had to be dishonest to keep the leads and clients flowing.

I didn’t have the heart for all that.  I focused on quality and getting the highest commission possible, almost 2 months worth of rent.  I focused on creating value and marketing my skills for getting the best deals for clients so that my commission would pay itself off after the first year.   Well, I wouldn’t say I was the highest earning salesperson but I definitely made just as much as the high volume agents with literally HALF the work.  That was working SMART.  I had people who were so happy with my service, they were referring other clients who would pay FULL commission.  They were referring other clients who would buy properties with me!

I ended up leaving that work environment due to personal reasons, but I never forgot the lesson of what it meant to work smarter.

Now I’m working  a salaried position and I’m constantly trying to find ways to make my time more valuable, be an efficient worker and to do more with less and be more productive.  I’m hoping my company would value that and reward me at bonus season.  I’m also trying to find ways to leverage my other talents and skills, to hopefully something profitable.

There’s no one rule for working smarter but if I had to name one thing that will definitely help you, the #1 way to improve efficiency at work:  STOP DOING WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE DOING.  Most people are not smart or even hard workers.  Following the status quo is the recipe for mediocrity.

Share the ways you were able to find better use of your talent and time below, I’d love to hear it.

Feel free to read my other posts:

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Build A Better Resume & Find A New Job

Build A Better Resume & Find A New Job
Build A Better Resume & Find A New Job

Want A Better Resume? Need Interview Tips To Find A New Job?

I’m currently offering resume review services to help people build a better resume but thought I would share some insights on what has helped me land interviews and land jobs for myself and my friends/family.  These tips are how I get my resume noticed and am able to find a new job.

This post is for people who have sent out resumes and:

  1. Have not gotten even a single response back,
  2. Have not updated their resume recently,
  3. Don’t know how to improve their resumes, and/or
  4. Want a job and don’t know where to start.

Ideally you’ll be well connected and able to to find a job through a friend or family who can recommend you for a position you really want, and win the opportunity.  But if you’re like 90% of the rest of us, then you are not well connected and have no clue how to get your first job. You’ll draft up a resume and send it out in a quick email.

Here are some ways to be successful and increase your chances of an interview.

A) Tailor Your Resume:

You might be applying for any job or a very niche job in your field. The biggest mistake I see is people do is not tailoring their resumes. They just slap all their experience together like, “Look how much I’ve done with my life. Hire me!” Nope, does not work like that. A recruiter or hiring manager might get hundreds of applications and spend 10-30 seconds reviewing applications for a specific job. The less specific your resume is to the position, the longer it will take a hiring manager to discern if your experience fits the role, making it more likely that they will cast your resume to the side.

You should be editing your resume for every single job you apply for. Yes, this is annoying and probably a very time consuming part of the search, but it works.  But this is how you make your resume stand out.

Ex: You previously had experience in retail, ringing up customers and meeting sales goals, keeping an area clean, and answering questions. Now you want to bar-tend and you just took a course in bar-tending. Your resume is tailored to retail, since that’s your previous experience. It would be a mistake to send it out to restaurants as is, because at first glance the hiring managers is going to be like, “this persons experience has nothing to do with the job.” They’re going to think about all the training they’ll need to invest in you, something they DON’T want to do. Rather, you should tailor your resume to show you graduated bar-tending school recently, education should be at the very top as most relevant and the work experience will be specific on what is transferable to bar tending. You’ll focus tailoring your retail experience to show you have customer service skills and sale skills to upsell drinks.

A resume for that purpose might look like this:

Resume 1

B) Keep It Simple

You want to keep your resume as digestible as possible. So that anyone scanning for specific information can find it. Resumes should be no longer than 1 page. You can adjust margins, text size and spacing but 1 page is enough to show your skills.

If you have limited work experience, add in any volunteer work that may be relevant

If you have a lot of experience in a specific area, you’ll want your experience to include ONLY what is both recent and relevant. You’ll want to include maybe 3-4 jobs you’ve had but be very detailed in the responsibilities you’ve had and tailor that to the job you are applying to.

Resumes don’t need to include ALL experience, just relevant experience.  You want your resume to be effective in showcasing your strengths.

If you’ve only worked at 1 company for a majority of your career you might want to break up your resume first by the company you worked for and then by the different roles you may have had in the company.

Resume 2

C) Write A Cover Letter In The Email Of The Job Post Response

This is essential. Too many people skip this step. They send out a generic “Hello, I’m interested in position X and am available X days. Please contact me via email or phone to schedule a visit.”

A message like that pretty much says you put zero to no thought into a message and are just hoping to land a job through mass mailing.  You need your the email message to get you the job and hired.

The body of the email is your opportunity! It’s the first thing a recruiter is going to read. It’s a great way to discuss your passion for the work you do or explain a gap in employment. It can captivate, inspire and get that recruiter to open up the attachment. Then your perfectly tailored resume is going to tell the story of why you should be hired.  Recruiters look at your resume for an average of 6 seconds, you need a better resume that gets you hired.

FYI- Never paste your resume in the body of the email. I’ve seen this before and it’s done to get recruiters to look at the resume right away. However it looks ugly, disorganized and is hard to share with other people if there are other decision makers. Don’t do it.

Hopefully you find this post useful in your job search.  Let me know your feedback and feel free to like, share and follow!

View my other posts:

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5 Amazing Types Of Freelance Work & Find Corporate Freedom

Different Types Of Freedom Work. Freedom From Corporate Culture
Different Types Of Freedom Work. Freedom From Corporate Culture

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There Are So Many Types Of Freelance Work That Will Give You Corporate Freedom

I chose to be a corporate cog. I have a husband and daughter and we need insurance and a steady paycheck….for now. But I still try to find ways to make money on the side and earn extra income. So I started looking into different types of freelance work because I wanted to find a life away from the office politics and find corporate freedom.

One thing we can all accept is that we all have to make a living but some of us choose to make money on our terms and determine how we want to spend our time. They say time is money so let’s discuss the different options out there to build an alternative career that’s both fulfilling and great for time management.

1)Blogging:

I’m a natural writer. But blogging is a long term game like any other business you start. You have to keep at it and write amazing content, work your SEO keywords, market through social media and (Gasp) even pay marketing/business costs. I think for the people who’ve made blogging a livable career, they’ve made a commitment to make it work and done whatever it takes to get there. The best part about it is that there are unlimited possibilities about what you can write about.  It’s pretty much the easiest way to make money from home, all you need is a computer and internet. It’s a great way to connect with people who have similar interests and motivations. If you’re serious about blogging, I would give it 2-3 years before you’re able to see livable-wage worthy income. It’s definitely something that can be a side hustle before you’re ready to make it your only income. Still, it 100% depends on you and how much time, money and effort you can invest.  It’s a real online job to be a blogger

2)Gigs

The gig economy is bigger than ever. People are stepping away from corporate life and enjoying being a free agent, representing themselves and their interests in the job market. Websites like UpWork and Fiverr have made it easier for people looking for work alternatives to build their own brand and client base. Of course, most businesses like this won’t come easy but people have stuck through it and have built incredible business models. I just saw an Ad on Facebook for a Harvard Grad on Fiverr that acts like a professional guidance counselor.  He offers writing, revising and editing your resume or LinkedIN account. Based on the comments and his ratings and reviews on Fiverr it seemed like he was making A LOT of money from there and was building a unique business. Some people were questioning, “Oh, if he’s a Harvard Grad, why is he freelancing?” Well, Mrs Debbie Downer, maybe it’s because freelancing can be awesome if you’re making a lot of money from it, have a great work/life balance and living with freedom from corporate red tape.

3)Temp Work

I have my qualms about temp agencies but it can be a great way to just fill in the gaps in income. Depending on the agency and your specialty you can work project to project or day to day. The company I work for uses temp agencies exclusively for our receptionist and admin positions. Even though the business relationship is, well, “temporary” that’s something that can go both ways. You don’t have to stay or even give notice if you have a better opportunity come your way.

4) Trade work or apprenticeship

There are sooooo many great jobs out there. And they are not all white collar jobs. I once knew a guy who worked for as an HVAC Technician. He worked with his hands on refrigerators and air conditioner systems. You know, fixing them and installing them for businesses. He had his truck and would work only like 40 hours a week. He was protected through a union and made $35 dollars an hour plus overtime! I’ve also seen electricians make $100k a year. And guess what, these blue collar jobs are in high demand mainly because a majority of our population decided they wanted to go to college and pursue white collar jobs. So now he can move from company to company looking for a new job, negotiate his earnings or work conditions because he’s a hot commodity worker!

5)Creative/Social media work

Social media has created such an incredible industry. Thousands of people are making money online with social media. What used to be a way to just connect with people is now a major business model as “Influencers” and “Bloggers” make their money selling their social media posts to sponsors as advertisements. Now having 10K or 50K worth of friends or followers can mean some major dollars. It doesn’t even have to be from an aesthetic standpoint of being an instagram model or twitter/YouTube celebrity. There are artists, scientists, dancers DIYers, etc. sharing their passions and building sponsorships and making great income.

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For these different types of freelance work, the key is to start early and just stick with it. If you want freedom from corporate culture, like any individual trying to build their own business, consistency is KING! I wouldn’t expect blogging or social media work to pay out initially but long term, the sky is literally the limit. There are bloggers and Influencers making $100k a month! And you don’t have to jump feet first, you can make any of these options a side hustle or part time work until you’re comfortable going all in.

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Read my other posts!

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Work Stress Is One Of The Main Causes Of Stress. Find Out How To Maintain A Work Life Balance

Not many people can honestly say they have a good work life balance. I feel like I’m always chasing  paper or time. Time back from my commute, time for my family, time back from my overtime. There were moments I’ve worked less and made less money. There have also been times I’ve worked more and made more money. But I’ve never worked less and made more money. And yet I keep finding myself chasing that elusive unicorn job, the one that’s work stress free.  The one where we have enough time during the day to get things done, where we get an hour lunch break, where there some light politics but no animosity.   But while we’re chasing for the perfect job, we have to try to make the most of the job we have now. 

Here are some ideas:

1. Time Management: It’s probably the best but hardest thing to master. Determining what can wait until the next day and what you need to do now based on priority. You don’t want to take care of all the non-essentials and then at the end of the day scramble to take care of what you are now realizing is a must on the to-do list. The best time management tip is this: take a few moments to collect your thoughts and make a list of what you need to do for the day.

2. Cutting BS activities: Sometimes we engage in non essential work habits that we “think” are productive but are really a waste of time and causing your hours to be longer. Things like engaging in office gossip, constant bathroom and smoke breaks, the lunch hour thats over extended and results in reduced employee productivity. It’s ok to engage in these activities here and there, but constant and daily disruptions to work will be noticed by higher ups and will extend your work day and make you less productive at work.

3. Delegate: I really struggle with this one. I really think I’m the best person to do the work so I’ll take on all the work I can, then I’ll burn out badly. Taking work off your shoulders and giving it to someone else might seem like you’re passing off your responsibilities but it’s really not. In a corporate environment usually the workhorse takes on everything, sacrifices personal time and energy to get everything done. Do you want to be the workhorse? Everyone should do their share and if you feel overwhelmed don’t be afraid to speak up and give work off to others who are less busy, and then hold them accountable for their work.

4. Take Time Off: Take all your PTO, especially if it doesn’t roll over. Take personal days and sick days if your not feeling great. I usually take a mental day after a long project. You can’t get work stress if you’re not at work!

5. Don’t Be The Workhorse: Learn how to say “No I’m not going to do this. Not because I don’t want to but because I can’t.” Learn to say no if you think something might be unfair to you. The workplace is cold-hearted and everyone is vying for their own interests. My experience in the corporate world is that these companies can take the best intentioned employees, the ones that are passionate about their work, and turn them into human capital to be exploited for productivity.  Saying no sometimes allows you to create boundaries that are needed.

6. Live Closer To Work-Commuting sucks. I have a 2 hour commute round trip and if I could shorten it I would. Often we have to consider work life balance in the sense of, am I willing to spend more on rent to get time back for my commute? Right now I’m not in a position to move but do try to take into account heavy traffic times and avoid them so I can try to minimize time lost in traffic.

7. Change Careers: I decided I wanted to be in real estate. I wanted the big money.  And after 5 years I finally have all the money needed to pay off my student loans. I’m also working 50-70 hours and work Saturdays. Even if I changed jobs the hours would likely still include weekends and evenings. I need a career that is more flexible, work from home, or I need to save more so I can eventually scale back the hours. Changing careers is not always feasible, definitely not at the drop of a hat, but I’m making serious moves to change that and free up some time, even if it means a pay cut.

8. Quality of life VS Cost of living: That’s always the underlying question when it comes to achieving work life balance. Are you working hard just to make ends meet? In which case, you might need to move to a less expensive area. I see so many people making high earning salaries but CHOOSING to live in a high cost area. At the end of the day they’re just making their bills and it’s kind of a waste of income.

I hope these tips helped Feel free to comment below your tricks to balancing it all and avoiding work stress.

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Check out my other posts!

Dealing with Toxic Work Culture

Work Smarter, Not Harder

What To Do When You Dislike Your Job