I Believe Submarines!

Not a Lumineers fan? You should be.

(Do yourself a favor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=II4BCkGNtgs)

They have this great song called “Submarine” about a guy who sees a freaking submarine and tries to tell people and nobody will believe him. A lyric for your brain: “In the end it boils down to credibility/ I have none so I’ll die with the secrets of the sea”. 

Poor guy.

He’s right, it does boil down to credibility. The problem is, how do you get some and with the right people? Say you want to start a business, how do you get a reputation as someone who can be trusted, better yet, how can you convince customers that you’re trustworthy? This gets especially difficult when you’re starting out fresh.

It’s not easier in the employee world either. Companies want to hire people with experience from the top down to the delivery guys. But how do you get experience when no one will hire you?

The answer? Take matters into your own hands.

When you’re ready to start a business on Earnest.com, reflect on your life experience. Maybe you’ve never worked as a fundraising consultant before, but you have loads of experience starting and running successful fundraisers. Write down the fundraisers you worked on, who they benefitted, how much they raised, and what roles you played in bringing them about. Did you manage anyone? Come up with a unique way to raise money? Encounter any fundraising problems and solve them?

Now you’ve got a resume of qualifying experience.

Next, call people you worked with and ask them to be references! People who helped you direct fundraisers, people who are serial donators and believe in you, people who’ve received the funds or goods you raised. Get quotes, ask if new customers can call you for references.

Suddenly, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have experience as a consultant. You’ve made a strong case for you as a qualified advisor and that kind of confidence appeals to clients.

You don’t have a backlog of fundraising success stories, but you’ve ready every book on the subject and  interviewed fundraising greats? Filed papers for a non-profit?

Start with passion. A healthy dose of passion for what you do and a compelling story will get you far. Follow that up with personal references who will vouch for your character and offer the first few jobs at no cost to get some good ratings and you’re set. Not sure you want to work for free for the first bit? Offer a money back guarantee and mean it. It’s little things like this that gets customers in the door.

If only the poor submarine-sighter had a way to prove that he’s not a raving loon.

“Ran back to the town bar and I told the people how/ I had seen a submarine and everyone laughed aloud.”

I’ll believe you submarine guy! As soon as I see some references…


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