As I add years to life the power of longevity in business blows my mind. Our society is very focused on youth, but there is a lot to be said about having some miles under your belt. The viewpoint from fifty-two years old is much better than the one I had at twenty-two. The things that seemed to be important and how I feel are now much different. When it come to business there is a much stronger understanding. In my personal relationships there much less judgement of others. It seems that we grow and learn over time. We realize we are not the center of the whole universe.
Longevity in business brings along with it a sense of understanding and perspective.
Ten years ago I was laid off from a corporate marketing job and became a full time keynote speaker. I had already studied the business of speaking, and thought I knew what it took to succeed. It turns out observing an industry is much different than living in it for a decade. The ideas of being a speaker had been appealing to me for many years. I would attend a business conference and watch the motivational speaker on stage and think “Wow, their job is much better than mine”.
10 Years To Overnight Success
When I became a full time speaker I assumed it would take me two or three years to become established. As it turns out, I have learned that I did not understand the meaning of “established”. While I was able to support my family, running my own business has been a lot of work. While I have had notable success, the reality is I have to wake up and fine tune my efforts daily. The business has changed in the last decade and the future is never certain.
The good thing is I now have a lot of repeat clients and referral business. I am booked often and my sales are up over last year. But that is a result of my longevity in business. This is something I did not understand nor appreciate when I was younger.
I am not famous, and do not expect to become a celebrity. This means that as a speaker I have to work at marketing myself to meeting planners in companies and associations. With 30,000 people claiming to be speakers, the competition is fierce. But this is not unique to my industry. Business success is hard no matter what you do for a living.
What I have learned is that longevity matters in business. While it is true that people like to hire the “shinny new object”, there are clients hiring me today that would never have selected me ten years ago. Many clients have been burned by going with vendors who are not proven, so they like to seek out the seasoned providers. An executive I sat by on a plane recently told me at her company event they have been burned by speakers with a great topic, but who were very new to presenting. They now require a speaker to document 100 business presentations (I gave her my card, as I have done over 800).
It is hard to say in any business for a decade if you are not committed to the industry and the clients you serve. Too often as things change people feel they are being left behind. The best thing you can do is keep on top of changes, update your products and services, and couple that with your longevity. I tell my clients an important way to success is to “Try New Things“. If you keep taking the same actions year over year, you should not expect new results.
Those who can endure and change should be able to market their experience as a plus. Longevity is a bonus as long as you can show you are also cutting edge and working to customize to the needs of a client. There is power in transcending time in your career. Embrace your experience.