Do you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur?
Master this one basic skill and you'll be well on your way. It's worked for our client, Peter Seneca.
Seneca worked in commercial banking and insurance for many years which helped him form a specialty insurance brokerage firm.
After several coffee-fueled meetings at a local bookstore, he and good friend, Kirk Elken launched Securitas Global Risk Solutions in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Their firm’s insurance solutions help companies transfer, internationally and domestically, credit risk off their balance sheet. This facilitates the financing of international trade with U.S. banks.
They also, primarily in Africa, protect investors against political risks.
“The inspiration to launch our company in 2004 was really driven by the desire to deliver what I knew to be a great model for our clients,” Seneca explained.
How have Seneca and his business partners come to be successful in such a niche industry?
He would say by practicing this one skill during all personal and business interactions: listening. The three components are: listening to partners, listening to customers, listening to yourself. It is a basic skill that is incredibly beneficial when done correctly.
Listen to partners.
Seneca still has the composition notebook he and his partner used to sketch out business details prior to launching Securitas. This handwritten bit of nostalgia is a humble reminder that the company wouldn’t be where it is today, succeeding on a global level, if it weren’t for his support system.
Seneca admits he is fortunate to have had a wonderful network that ultimately gave him the courage and confidence to start Securitas.
“All these guys from my church community have their own businesses and have found success. These were the guys I reached out to and they helped me compress the learning curve,” said Seneca.
Have you ever caught yourself reeling at the fact that you should’ve listened to your dad when he told you the one thing you ignored and it turned out to be true? Ok, maybe not since high school. But the point is, listen to those people in your network. Always be open and teachable. They’re in your network for a reason. Any insight you glean from their experiences may be worthwhile.
The best advice sometimes comes from unexpected places and you will only notice it if you’re listening.
Listen to customers.
The term salesperson can elicit a stereotypical image of a fast talking, self -serving person. This outdated portrayal of sales is simply not the case if you’re truly listening to potential customers.
“At the end of the day, if you listen and you ask good questions, then that person feels like you understand them. They're then going to be more inclined to listen to what you have to say. One of the things that I'm proud to say is that everybody I work with likes to go in and ask the right questions. Ultimately, if we can help them, we will,” explained Seneca.
Listening is about understanding. Formulate questions prior to your meeting to kick off the conversation. Ask deeper questions to learn more and discern what your client is not explicitly tell you. Good questions can differentiate you.
Ask for clarification when it’s necessary and ‘ABR’ – always be responsive – it’s the best way to get referrals, as Seneca explained.
“I’ve heard somebody say that there are three things that make you highly referable. Show up on time, do what you say you’re going to do, and have a heart of gratitude. If you continually ask great questions and show that you are there for your clients, that’s really all you need,” he shared.
Listen to yourself.
It is important not to neglect the one thing that keeps you going in this world – yourself. As a small business owner, it’s easy to get overly involved in your work and allow it to creep into all areas of your life. Pursuing activities and relationships that keep you balanced allows you to go the distance/prevents burn out.
Schedule fun activities with your family, take time to enjoy a sport like golf/tennis, eat well and get good rest. Trust me, the world isn’t going to end if you shift your focus a bit. Listen to your body and mind so that you remain sharp.
Also listen to your gut instinct - it’s usually right. Psychology Today explains that your intuition is shaped by past experiences and the knowledge gained from those experiences. If a business decision doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Bottom line, if you practice listening to your support system, your customers, and yourself, you’ll be able to create more wins.” Seneca wraps things up, explaining, “We love what we do, we love our clients, we love interacting with people, and fully understanding who they are and where they want to go. I think people sense that and can tell when you are genuinely interested in serving their best interests. I am pleased to be working with people that have that kind of heart.”
If you’ve got the heart to listen, use it. It’s your key to entrepreneurial success.
To learn more about client Securitas Global, click here.