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Massage Today
May, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 05

Establishing Your Own Success Squad

By Jenn Sommermann, LCMT

In 1996, Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote It Takes a Village, discussing the impact individuals and groups outside the family have on a child's well-being. The country reveled in the concept and the catch phrase immediately became common vernacular.

Long gone are the days of stay-at-home moms where undivided attention to homework and play helped to shape a child's future. The nuclear family spends less time together, leaving day-care providers, athletic coaches and teachers to pick up some of the responsibility of raising a child. Grandparents, neighbors and friends often round out the village circle. It is the way of the world. In fact, pressed to describe my own upbringing, I would list at least 20 individuals who had a hand in my nurturing and development. I am grateful to all of them for shaping me into the woman I am today. This "village" concept is so widely accepted that it has transcended familial boundaries and now applies to many areas, including the business model.

If you speak to any successful business person, I am sure each one can share a story of someone who helped them along the way. No one succeeds alone. Sure, there are solo entrepreneurs but there had to be a "helping hand" or "leg up" during the initial phase or when things got difficult. I recall my own early days in business. Armed with everything I learned in practice management classes in massage school, I found I was still clueless. I made a ton of mistakes and often ponder how much faster my success would have been if they hadn't been made. About a year into my private practice, I was fortunate enough to meet a very special person who shaped my future. Andy became my mentor and rather than make mistakes, I learned from his. I followed in his shoes and path for ten years and to him I credit a large part of my success.

Success Squad - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark In addition to someone like Andy, there is a lot of help at your disposal. A wise person said, "Being smart is not having all the answers, it is knowing where to find them." The trick is to know where to look and whom to ask. At this point, I will mention the term "dream stealer." I don't mean the kind of person who steals your idea and runs with it. I mean someone who paints themselves as a devil's advocate and often has your best interest at heart; someone who maybe suggested you wouldn't be happy as a massage therapist or is currently second guessing your employment choices. They are often our family, friends and loved ones and while I don't want you to shut them out, I would suggest that you refrain from putting them into your Success Squad.

The Success Squad is analogous to Hillary Rodham Clinton's village but in the business sense. The Squad can encompass a couple of people or can be as large as a football team. There are no rules about who is in the Squad. The Squad consists of all the resources you rely on to help make business decisions. It can be websites, people, groups, higher powers, books, recordings, paid personnel, family, friends and heck, even your dog, Spot. Everyone in your Squad must be your biggest fan. Everyone in your Squad must truly want you to succeed. Everyone in your Squad must celebrate you, enliven you, cheer for you and propel you toward your highest business goal. If not, please consider not including them in the Squad.

Up until the day he died, my dad was my "dream stealer." I could talk to him about almost anything ... sports, food, politics, gardening, relationships. But when it came to business matters, he was old school. He was the type of man who worked at the same company for 40 years, retired with the gold watch and couldn't understand why I was "wasting" my college degree. It took me years of trying before I finally realized I couldn't share my business goals and dreams with Daddy. My Mother, on the other hand, is my personal cheerleader and would jump off a building with pom-poms if I asked her. She will always be part of my Success Squad and I still consult her on many of my business decisions. Consider who currently supports you in your life and if they are not your cheerleader, leave them off this particular list.

So who can you add to your Success Squad and how do you go about finding them? Ideally, you are looking for resources that inspire you and celebrate you, but also have some business sense and common sense. They don't have to necessarily be in the massage industry but knowledge of the service and/or healthcare industry is a plus. Here is a quick list of resources to help you get started:

  • Parents or other family members;
  • Significant other;
  • Teachers from massage school;
  • Fellow classmates (either in your class, ahead or behind you);
  • Internal Revenue Service (yep, not a typo);
  • Small Business Administration;
  • Chamber of Commerce (your local chapter);
  • Other colleagues in the profession;
  • Friends;
  • American Massage Therapy Association;
  • Women in Bodywork Business Blog; and
  • LinkedIn.

This list is just a small sample of the resources that are at your disposal. Start with your immediate circle and ask for references or mentors. Start with those you know and trust and then go to who they know. Keep expanding the circle until you find the resources that can help. Chances are there are recommendations waiting for you, if you open yourself up and ask for help.

Most folks with entrepreneurial spirit like the idea of flying solo. We wish business success could come from us alone. It is our nature, but it is also foolish. It is the wise business person who recognizes resources, asks for help and accepts it. There is no excuse for not being successful, especially when there is so much help at your disposal. So pick up the phone, text a friend, write an e-mail or open your window and shout to your neighbor; start creating your Success Squad this very minute.

Click here for previous articles by Jenn Sommermann, LCMT.


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