Selling Yourself as the Product of Your Small Business in South Korea
One of the people who really influenced me to become an entrepreneur said something that has stuck with me. And with more business and sales experience I gain, the more I realize how true his words are. He said this, “Tony, you must first sell yourself, and then people will buy from you”. And if you really think about it, it really makes sense, especially nowadays. I mean, think about the last thing you bought. Why did you buy it? Maybe it was something you bought without thinking, but if you can find an item that hasn’t been around that long that you have recently bought, then you will probably see that there is something that you trust or someone that you trust connected to that item that made you buy that product. One simple example are products that are endorsed by your favourite celebrity or by someone you really trust. If you don’t know anything about what type of car to buy, then you may ask a friend who knows a lot about cars. And if that friend so happens to be a car salesman, then there is a very good chance that you will buy that product, and maybe even buy that product from that specific friend. And that is how I was able to make my first few sales for my businesses. My first few customers were people who knew me or knew people who knew me. But what if YOU are the product? Well, either way, you need to sell yourself as the salesman of the product or as the product.
As you may have heard, I have another website where I talk about starting and building a Hagwon type business in Korea. And unlike a lot of other businesses, a Hagwon business, especially hagwons with less than 300 students, rely on having good teachers. If you were like me and are thinking of starting a Gongbubang or a Gyosoopso, then YOU will definitely be the product since you will only have one teacher for your business, which will be YOU. So you will have to sell yourself to others. Regardless of what you are selling, if YOU are the product or the service provider, then there are a few things to really keep in mind.
1. You Must Make Others Believe You Are Very Confident in Yourself
If you aren’t very confident, then you have to make others believe that you are. You can gain more confidence by sharpening your skills as an English teacher or a service provider, gaining more knowledge about running your business, or role playing with friends. And when I say role playing with friends, role play situations where you will be selling yourself to potential customers and clients. Your friend can pretend to be a customer and just ask you hard questions.
When I first opened up my English gyosoopso, I was pretty nervous. But I was pretty confident in my ability to teach, but even with a good amount of confidence, it can be a little scary talking to your first potential customers. But as the saying goes, “fake it till you make it”. And it is really difficult to fake confidence, so there are two ways to overcome this. The first way is to just be confident by being the best you can be at what you do. This can take years and years of actually putting in the work and time. The second way is pretending to be the best. Of course you actually have to be somewhat good at what you do to pretend to be the best, but as long as you are somewhat good and others believe you are confident, then you can still sell yourself. And then over time, you will become very good at your craft.
*This is the top portion of one my very first flyers for my English Gyosopso. I went with labeling myself as the “Best”. I was and still am very confident in my ability to teach children English. I love teaching and had a good amount of experience before starting my English Gyosoopso. However, not everyone knew about me in the area I opened up my business. So my strategy was to just tell people I was the best and then back it up with my teaching. In the end, I put pressure on myself to be the best and this forced me to be confident in myself.
2. You Must Actually be a Good Product
You actually must be a good product. You can make others believe that you are a good product, but it you actually aren’t a good English teacher or aren’t able to make learning English somewhat enjoyable for children or students, then you won’t be in business long. There’s no way getting around actually having a good product or service. I am reminded of a time when someone who had zero experience teaching English emailed me at Hagwonstart.com and basically asked me what I thought about him opening up a Hagwon in South Korea. Basically, he was married to a Korean woman in his country and they were thinking of moving to Korea. He had lots of experience doing work in a field unrelated to education and had no business experience. They had some money and thought since the husband was white and was from one of the countries that qualify you to be a Native English Teacher in Korea, that opening an English Hagwon type business would be a good idea for them. I basically told him that he would not be able to open up a successful English Hagwon in Korea if he knew nothing about English education and teaching in Korea. So I told him to get a teaching job and work at least 6 months at a Hagwon first before investing any of his money into starting an English Hagwon business in Korea. But he was very firm about not getting a teaching job, which made it very clear to me that it would just be a disaster for him to go into the Hagwon industry. I don’t know what happened to him, but I like to think that I saved him a bunch of money and a lot of time.
*This second portion of the flyer states that the class will be taught 100% by a Native English Teacher. It states that the Native English Teacher is very qualified and that our school is better than all the others. So yeah, putting the pressure all on myself. I felt like I had to make people believe that I was a very good teacher and I always thought that I was. If you aren’t a good teacher, then you need to become a good teacher first before you even think about starting your own small Hagwon type business in South Korea.
3. People Must Feel Like You Are a Safe Bet
Anytime anyone buys a new product or service, they are taking a chance. And no one wants to feel like they made the wrong choice when buying something or using a service. I have had so many people tell me how the flower service they used before did a bad job and sent bad quality flowers to their girlfriend in South Korea. So a lot of these people were really afraid and had so many questions. In the end, they were really happy with the product and service Flower Gift Korea provided for them when I was the owner. And it is very common for people to not want to get “cheated” or waste their money again on a product or a service. I know I hate when I buy something for a specific price and receive something less than the value I expected. So you MUST make people feel like they are not going to waste their time and money by sending their child to your English gyosooopso or by paying you to make a website for them. I believe that it is best to start your business, even if you aren’t 100% ready, but you shouldn’t be trying to start a business and/or trying to make sales when you are only 10% ready. In the end, if you start too prematurely, you may make a bad name for yourself and end up hurting your brand. Don’t forget, you are a brand, and if Tony the owner of Flower Gift Korea wasn’t good, then most likely, Tony the coach and consultant won’t be good either. That’s how most people’s brains’ work and that is another reason why if you don’t have any businesses or anything like that, but want to have one or two some day, create some helpful content in the form of blogs, posts, videos, etc. so people can become familiar with your brand. That way you will be more of a safe bet when it comes time for you to sell your product or your service. So make sure people think it is not risky to use your service or to buy your product. And you do that by doing things the right way, having integrity, and really providing some kind of value for others.
*This is the bottom portion of the flyer. You can see a list of my credentials as a teacher at the bottom, as well as some contact information. Also, tonyteacher.com at the time pretty much just highlighted my credentials a little more. I wanted to show my credentials and experience as an English teacher, so that people could see that I would be a safe bet. In Korea, people really trust credentials, so the more degrees, certificates, and teaching experience you have, the easier it is for people in Korea to trust you as a teacher.
Here is the Flyer in Full:
It was fun reflecting on my time as the owner of IGL English in Seoul South Korea. I started the business in 2013, but I started planning for the business in 2011. That is the main reason I got my TESOL certificates in 2011. Anyhow, I also wrote a little bit about the process of creating and making this specific flyer on my hagwonstart website, if you want to check it out, please visit hagwonstart.com/our-first-flyer.
And if you are planning on starting your own English Hagwon type business in Korea one day, make sure you are confident in your ability to teach, you are actually good at teaching, and you are able to highlight things about yourself or your business that will make people feel as though they are missing out if they don’t send their children to your English Hagwon business. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.