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Starting My Own Business: The First Big Breakthrough (3 Months In)

Resume Writer and Interview Coach

Last time I blogged about my entrepreneurial journey, I was one month in and despite not being able to spell "entrepreneur" without spellcheck, I was flying high! Since then the journey had been… I wouldn't call it a roller coaster, but a very least, a kiddie coaster. Maybe more of a bumpy train ride through a rolling valley.

What I'm trying to tell you is, things were going great, then they weren't, so I had to make some major changes and alter my tactics, and now they're going great again!

 

February - Everything is Awesome

February was amazing. I was still benefiting from the initial boost of publicity I received of when all my friends and well-wishers shared my launch and I generated enough leads to last about two months.

After earning nearly $400 in January, I doubled that mark in February with over $800 in income, surpassing my incredibly modest opening-year goal of earning $1,000. It was great! I was receiving repeat business, referrals, and one client even paid for a friend to receive my services as a gift. I’ve never been gifted before ;)

What I didn't realize while I was thriving is that I was neglecting a very important part of my business.

 

March: Part 1 - Uh oh!

I'm not going to sugar coat it for you, my dear reader, I made $0 in the month of March. The big nuth. I had one solid lead, whom I think I scared off.  Probably because I was so desperate to break my drought.

I must admit, for a brief period, in my over-dramatic state, I thought maybe the dream was dead. Two good months and then fizzled out like a sparkler on a birthday cake (not that sparklers last two months… just… they fizzle out. You know what I mean).

In retrospect, it was easy to see this coming. While I was working with all my initial clients, I disappeared off social media, my website traffic was virtually nil, and my word-of-mouth army had nothing to go on.

 

March: Part 2 - The Redemption

After feeling sorry for myself for a couple of lonely weeknights, I decided to kick my butt into gear. At least I knew enough to understand that marketing was my problem. So I signed up for a $0.99 trial at skillshare.com and completed at least four courses on social media marketing. In SkillShare, I stumbled across a fairly famous guy who seems to know what he’s doing, Gary Vaynerchuk, and I learned the concept of creating a relationship with your followers before you ask for something.

So I bought his amazing book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World and started crafting my Facebook marketing campaign (do I get a commission if you click on this link and buy this book? Hell yes, I do! But I wouldn’t recommend it if it didn’t help me monumentally). *Sidenote: I just bought his newest book Crushing It: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence—and How You Can, Too, and I’m expecting even more awesomeness to come.

 

April - I’m a Believer

Using my rudimentary design skills on canva.com, I built up 2 weeks worth of content to post on my Facebook page and my own profile that was either personal to me, relevant to my services, or just topical what’s going on in the world. Then, on my 30th birthday, boom! I hit the world with my first “Right Hook”, a 30% off deal to celebrate my 30th.

What a hit! Within the week I confirmed six new clients and have seven additional leads who I may work with in the near future. That $28 book made me somewhere between $700 and $1200 in about 3 weeks. But what’s even more valuable is that I now feel like I’m doing this thing for real. I’m still learning, but the power of being able to generate interest in my business and build my brand strategically feels amazing.

 

Moving Forward

I’m very excited to be where I am today. I can’t thank everyone enough for all the support you have given me. The referrals, the social media engagement, the genuine interest in how it’s all going makes me feel like I can take this business to the next level and beyond.

Stay tuned for my next entrepreneurial journey update. I’ve got a couple of fun new projects in the works including a SkillShare course or two of my own, and another project completely outside the resume writing industry :)

 

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4 Reasons Servers Deserve a Job Interview Almost Anywhere

Servers are Badasses.png

Respect your servers, people. Not just while they are serving you. Respect them when you meet them at a party, when you see them at the gym, and especially when they apply to work for you.

If you are asking “why?”, first… human decency. Respect everyone, please. But secondly, servers do amazing work in a high-pressure environment for hours on end. And they do it with a big, toothy smile on their face. I’ve outlined the exact skills servers bring to the table (pun not originally intended but now that I see it, I love it). For context, I’ve also illustrated some non-serving examples of each of these skills that may or may not come from my own life experience.  

Side note: Personally, I’ve never been a server (though I worked in a hotel for five years so I’m no stranger to demanding, impatient customers), and to help me paint the picture, I solicited the assistance of the person who I’ve spent the most time with in my entire life, my dear sister, Michelle Langstaff. Michelle is a long-time server, turned Kinesiologist, and she has bailed me out of more near tragedies than I’m able to count. Thanks, brosif.

 

1. Multitasking

Multitasking in everyday life: Scrolling Instagram with Gilmore Girls on in the background.

Multitasking in the average workplace: Checking your email while pretending to pay attention in a meeting that absolutely could have been replaced by at 3 minute phone call.

Multitasking for a server: You’re speed walking through a minefield of moving food and beverage to greet each new table within 30 seconds of their arrival (a strict restaurant policy). As you’re taking your first table’s drink orders, you notice another table walk in. You quickly punch in the first table’s drink orders and then sprint (without looking like you’re sprinting) to the new table to meet your next 30 second deadline. Just as you’ve punched in the second table's drink orders and gone to deliver the drinks from the bar to your first table, you notice a third table sit down. Now you’ve got table one who wants to place their dinner orders but the clock is ticking on greeting table number three.

I’m exhausted and we haven’t even taken everyone’s drink orders yet! Michelle went on to tell me all about setting the tables, running food, correcting mistakes, offering dessert, getting bills, cleaning spills, condiment fills, and a dozen other tasks that I was too overwhelmed to even write down.

As someone with a lot of event planning experience, I liken this level of multitasking to running three complex events simultaneously, without ever being able to sit down. The thought is dizzying and it inspires great confidence in former servers to deliver when things get hectic.

 

Other jobs that require this level of multitasking: project manager, supervisor/manager, detective, pilot, film or theatre director, nurse, preventative-medicine physician, teacher, event planner

 

2. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence in everyday life: Telling your friend you’re sick when you bail on their birthday party so they won’t hate you.

Emotional intelligence in the average workplace: Telling your boss that they’re being a doofus without forfeiting your ability to buy dog food… and human food.  

Emotional intelligence for a server: Your salary is determined by how much a random hungry person off the street likes you. There’s nothing to tell you what kind of a day that random person is having, how peppy or straight-to-the-point they’d like you to be, or any other factors that might influence their decision to tip you.

Servers have a split second to gauge the emotional state of the table sitting down in front of them. Once they’ve determined the unwritten social rules that the customer has established, they’ve got to adapt their serving style instantly to please the customer. It’s either that or get a lousy tip.

This kind of interpersonal awareness and adaptability are extremely valued in high-level corporate relationship building and change management projects. So let’s value them just as highly in our serving staff. Tip your damn servers, people!

 

Other jobs that require this level of emotional intelligence: psychologist, customer service rep, manager/supervisor, real estate agent, social media manager, social worker, parole officer, politician, wedding planner, marketing analyst, occupational therapist, crisis negotiator

 

3. Team Building

Team building in everyday life: Asking a stranger to watch your stuff while you go to the bathroom… the real-life equivalent of a trust fall.

Team building in the average workplace: A half-day team retreat in a boardroom with a couch in it.

Team building for a server: Some of the other server experiences I wrote about had crossed my mind before, but Michelle opened my eyes to just how precarious the relationships a server needs to build among their team can be.

As a server, you need the kitchen staff to have your back in case you need to change an order in a rush. You need strong communication with the hosts/hostesses to be aware when tables are being seated. And you need to have each other’s backs, constantly running food for each other, clearing each other’s tables, and mopping up each other’s spills. And it all happens so fast. There is no time to take a personality quiz and share your preferred confrontation approach. You are playing with live ammo and figuring out how to support each other as you go. This is the kind of attitude that is required to run a start-up or pilot project.

 

Other jobs that require this level of team building prowess: entrepreneur, corporate educator, surgeon, manager/supervisor, police officer, chef, athlete, construction manager, human resources manager

 

4. Resilience

Resilience in everyday life: Cooking up a nice healthy chicken breast when you reeeeaalllly want to order that gooey, cheesey, deep dish Dominos pizza with Brooklyn style pepperoni and garlic dipping sauce (sorry, I'm hungry).

Resilience in the average workplace: “It’s Friday. It’s 2:30pm. I know the weekend is just a couple hours away, but I’m going to stay off Facebook and finish this report."

Resilience for a Server: Your work uniform is a bit more revealing than you are comfortable with on this particular day. You have to spend 95% of your workday standing and walking. You don’t know if your shift is going to end at 10:00pm or 3:00am. As a server, you have learned to be comfortable with discomfort.

Beyond the physical discomfort, there are also very uncomfortable human interactions. Servers will regularly muscle through customer complaints, inappropriate suggestive comments (often sexual and unwanted), drunken misconduct, and all-around entitled, impolite, unpleasant people. Obviously most people who visit restaurants are generally kind and considerate; however, even one or two of these interactions in a day is more than most of us are equipped to handle.

Servers find a way to press on through all the challenges, all the uncertainty, and all the unpleasantness. When things get tough, a server will still get the job done. That is why I want former servers on my team.

 

Other jobs that require this level of resilience: entrepreneur, CEO, software developer, author, referee, performer, disaster and emergency preparedness manager, sales representative, firefighter, pretty much every challenging job out there

 

Offer Servers an Interview

Some servers are amazing at their job and want to keep doing it forever and that is awesome! If you do ever have the good fortune to interview a server who is trying to get out of the restaurant game, give them a shot, will you? They’ve got a lot to offer.

And if you are a server out there looking to make a change, don’t sell yourself short. You are amazing!