Somewhere someone is looking for
exactly what you have to offer.
~ Louise Hay
For thousands of years, anyone running a business was at the mercy of geography. If you lived near a river or the ocean, you had opportunities not available to your landlocked neighbors. Being an entrepreneur usually meant plunking yourself down in a convenient spot and dealing with whomever happened to pass your way.
Needless to say, most entrepreneurs were not great visionaries. And, of course, millions of business owners still operate that way, going to the same place at the same time and serving the same customers day after day. No wonder that the more adventurous among us didn’t find this an attractive proposition.
With the advent of automobiles, trains and planes, horizons began to expand. Legions of traveling salespeople took to the road to sell their wares to customers farther afield. While merchant travelers had long searched the world for exotic goods and brought them home to eager new markets, itinerant peddlers had mostly kept close to home.
Mail order marketing opened another window on the world with the likes of Sears and Roebuck sending all manner of merchandise, including prefabricated houses, to customers living in remote corners of the country. That revolution, later aided by services such as UPS and Federal Express, made it possible for imaginative entrepreneurs to live in attractive places without being dependent on the local population (or lack thereof) to support their businesses.
Now we’re in the midst of another revolution, one that has exciting possibilities for building a totally new kind of business. And that possibility exists only because geography is no longer an obstacle. Where business once meant marketing goods and services to those in close proximity, it now is more about reaching out to those who share values, concerns and ideas—no matter where they are located. In the Twenty-first Century, our clients and customers are more likely to share a consciousness than a zip code.
So what does it take to be part of this globe-spanning phenomenon? First of all, we must have more than a little spirit of adventure, imagination and vision. While we may be happily ensconced in our home office, we need to reach out to people far and wide who want what we have to offer. That may require giving up our limited notions of what’s possible. If you want to create a business that is satisfying in every possible way there’s a critical attitude that needs to be part of your basic operating plan. That key attitude is this: free yourself of any notions, conscious or otherwise, that you must please everyone and decide instead that you will build a business by finding and serving your own kindred spirits.
That’s exactly what a couple that I saw featured on a Canadian television show did. After moving to a sparsely populated island near Vancouver, they opened an international art gallery. This business is run virtually and puts them in touch with artists and buyers from around the world—while giving them the pleasure of having a serene (and low overhead) environment from which to work. Their success is the result of having clarity about the people with whom they work and serve.
If you haven’t already done so, give some serious consideration to writing a profile of your ideal customer. What do they think? What do they value? How can you enrich their lives? You have a few billion people to chose from, after all, so why not decide in advance who your preferred customers are? ( I’m not talking here about exclusion and prejudice; this exercise is about identifying the most mutually rewarding relationships you can imagine and then seeking them out.) If you make finding like-minded people the focus of your business, you will automatically eliminate much of the fear that keeps so many people from moving ahead.
This is equally true if you offer a service that does rely on personal contact with people in your own vicinity. If you’re a massage therapist, for instance, you need to have access to bodies, but you’ll build a richer business if you decide ahead of time about the minds and spirits that accompany the bodies of your ideal clients.
Author Sonia Choquette has some bold advice for how to participate in all of this opportunity. She writes, “Give up the excuses. Give up the drama. Give up the mess. Give up attachment to the wrong things and ideas, and use that freed-up energy to cut a wide swath for your dream to enter your experience.”