"Dude. This is not a freaking non-profit."
I so wish I could take credit for those words, but alas, I can't. They're from one of Elizabeth Potts Weinstein's latest blog posts, "I'm Not Sorry for Selling."
I've always been apologetic about selling. Even as a child, I was mortified by the idea of going door-to-door hocking wrapping paper, poinsettias or Girl Scout cookies to fund my latest extra-curricular activity. It wasn't just my innate shyness--it was a serious distaste for interrupting people and guilting them into buying something they really didn't need, no matter what the cause.
My distaste for selling continued into adulthood. I distinctly remember an exercise in a graduate school class that required me to list the three things I would least like to do in my career. Mine? Schmoozing, selling and budgeting.
So, of course, I became an entrepreneur, which as we all know has absolutely nothing to do with schmoozing, selling or budgeting.
And running a business hasn't made the selling any easier. In fact, I pretty much avoid it altogether.
I've been lucky. For the most part, business has come to me, from friends, family, former work colleagues and client referrals. The work has been steady, if predictable and easy. It's been safe. Comfortable. And stagnant.
I always complain that I'm not running a non-profit, and yet, I treat it like one. I don't charge enough for services. I give things away for free. And I'm realizing it's mostly because I find selling distasteful. I don't want to ask. I'm scared. Of rejection, failure, pride--maybe all of the above.
But at the end of the day, I'm running a business. And if I want to succeed, I have to treat it like one. I have to sell. And talk about selling.
Selling doesn't have to be this icky, sleazy, dreaded thing. We sell every day--with our words, our actions, our beliefs, our personalities and our presence. And while I've been using these things to build relationships and engage communities, I've been neglecting the last step: the ask.
And without the ask, there's no money, and without money, well--I'm a freaking non-profit.