Have you ever wondered why the flags are continuously searching for new mobile distributors? I posed this question to a district manager for one of the flags recently and he noted the flags are always on the lookout for new distributors because only one in five actually succeeds in the long run. This comment led to a discussion on the unique challenges that mobile distributors face as business owners.
The reason the survival rate is so low for mobile distributors, this DM believes, is the versatile business skills that are needed to succeed that so few individuals naturally possess. We identified the following areas: persistence, good math aptitude, good organizational ability, the ability to multi-task, safe driving skills, openness to new ways of doing things (particularly in the area of marketing), merchandising sense, and most of all, first-rate sales and customer relations skills.
A distributor has to be patient with customers, be willing to hear about their personal lives, listen to their concerns, and also be ready to ask for the order and say “no” if the situation requires it. It’s a tall order, to say the least.
I have worked in many different industries in my career as a business writer, and I can honestly say there aren’t many businesses that demand such a wide skill set.
To be fair, mobile distribution is not the only industry where only the best survive. According to CNN, slightly more than half of new businesses fail within five years. If the success rate of mobile distributors falls below that of all businesses, it reflects the unusually high skill level needed to survive.
One of the benefits of being a business writer is getting to meet people who have mastered diverse capabilities. Having attended conventions in several different industries, I’ve met people who are accomplished in many areas.
My conversation with this DM brought to mind a consultant/author I met at a convention who talked about how a business owner can master diverse management skills. The ability to master skills that enable a person to be successful, noted consultant and author Flip Flippen, largely depends on recognizing and managing one’s personal shortcomings. This is not easy, he said, but it can be done.
Flippen’s book, “The Flip Side,” is designed to help people identify and overcome personal constraints that prevent them from being successful.
Everyone has areas they are naturally good in, and areas where they need to improve. Flippen has made identifying and overcoming personal constraints the subject of his life’s work. He did so not out of curiosity, but necessity. Born into very unfavorable circumstances and with learning disabilities, this man was able to overcome his setbacks and build a successful life, both personally and professionally.
Flippen eventually developed a consulting business teaching individuals and organizations how to grasp and overcome personal constraints. In his book, he presents 10 common constraints: overconfidence, low confidence, overly nurturing, low nurturing, overly demanding, lack of vision, overly dominant, resistant to change, overly temperamental and lack of self control. Does any of this sound familiar?
Much of Flippen’s book addresses how to tag these traits, how they impede a person’s success, and how they can be overcome.
Flippen is not the only business author and consultant to come up with a system to address one’s own constraints. There are many resources available to business owners who want to overcome their shortcomings.
Given the versatile skills needed to be a successful mobile distributor, it makes sense to take stock of your “skill inventory,” your individual strengths and weaknesses.
By knowing your own road blocks and trying to overcome them, you can increase your chances of being among that one in five who succeeds in mobile tool distribution.
In the meantime, take pride in the fact that you are reading this magazine; you are an overacheiver.