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5 Common Business Blunders Women Make

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For Women & Co. by Laura Vanderkam, LauraVanderkam.com

If you own a business, the saying goes, you're in sales. Gaining new projects and clients is how you grow and sustain your enterprise. Unfortunately, according to Carolyn Herfurth, a sales expert and speaker who's coached entrepreneurs for 10 years, female entrepreneurs often undermine themselves with sneaky forms of sales sabotage.

Do you recognize any of these five common business blunders? Here's some advice:

1. You talk yourself out of pitching a client.
"So many people stop before they even get started," Herfurth says. "Basically, they're afraid." Instead of looking for reasons someone wouldn't buy from you, look for reasons they would. If you can think of even a few, it's worth a shot.

2. You promise too much for too little money.
"People will overpromise just to get the business," Herfurth says. You decide something is a $5,000 project, then find yourself quoting $3,000 for the job. Or you promise double the amount of work for $5,000, then find yourself asking, "Why am I working on a Sunday again?!" Set yourself a minimum wage, and stick with it.

3. You don't exude confidence.
Don't phrase your fee in the form of a question. Your hard-earned skills and experience aren't goofy, so don't giggle when you discuss them. Practice with a friend until you sound authentic and authoritative.

4. You don't ask for a client's business.
"I truly believe if you don't ask, you don't get," Herfurth says. Asking explicitly for what you want shows that you have confidence in your business to meet your clients' needs.

5. You don't market because you're swamped.
While being busy seems like a good thing, that still doesn't let you off the hook -- for two reasons. First, why are you so busy that you can't think about your company's future? Maybe your staff needs to take over more of your day-to-day responsibilities, or maybe you need to start hiring. Second, remember that today's great client won't necessarily be tomorrow's. No matter how busy you are, put at least an hour or two on your weekly schedule for checking in on previous or potential clients. That way, says Herfurth, "when that time comes and a client that makes up 50 percent of your business goes away, it's not like you're calling up old business out of the blue." You've built a relationship -- and can lean on that to bring in new work.

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