Figuring out who you are and what you want to say is both the easiest and hardest thing you can do to ensure your business success. If you get it right, your work will come easily and flow. However, many people, myself included, struggle with what they want to say. It’s not always easy “showing your work” and being yourself.
There is a reason most businesses and companies are fairly “corporate.” They are milquetoast because 1. they are AFRAID to risk their ASSEtS and 2. don’t want alienate any potential customers. The good news is, as a smaller business, entrepreneur, consultant, or freelancer you have a real opportunity to step into this void, by being real.
Fact: People crave connection.
That’s why authenticity matters, people can tell when you are the real deal, and they want it! Chances are you are already committed to being authentically awesome
Here are five things to help you hone in on your next business opportunity.
- Follow your enthusiasm and energy. Do you find yourself procrastinating on certain kinds of work, but gravitating to others? In my day-to-day corporate job there is the grind (e.g. weekly meeting, timesheets, filling in templates, copy edits), but then there is the stuff I love (e.g. coaching teams, writing, evaluating business proposals, competitive analysis). These are the things I lose myself in, and effortlessly slip into the flow. But it wasn’t until I worked with a coach that I realized that I had a huge block with going for the things I wanted. I often found myself slipping back and agreeing to “take one for the team.”The funny thing is I always factor in “team enthusiasm” into my product evaluations. After evaluation hundreds of services and data products – I learned the hard way that “enthusiasm of the development team” was the single greatest predictor of a project’s success. And yet I was falling short managing that for myself, once I made that connection, I realized that being a martyr was no longer justifiable.
- Find your niche. Be specific, don’t be afraid to start small, and try to find a space that you can own. The Internet has erased all barriers-to-entry. That means it is increasingly difficult to get your audience’s attention. You need to deliver value to your audience – focusing on their niche needs is one way to do that. As Seth Godin will tell you, you want your content to be so good that your audience will be upset if they miss it. Focus your content on your niche, you can always link to generalist tools, but focus your time giving them specific tools to address their specific need.
- What you do does not need to be hard. In fact, it shouldn’t be, at least not for you. Many of us have been taught to believe work should be work. If you are reading this I bet you are pretty creative. So I challenge you to get creative and figure out how to make doing what you love, easy. Ask yourself. What is essential? What can I skip? What can you outsource? How can I leverage something I am already doing?
- Find your people. Ask yourself, Who do I want to play with? Who do I want to work with and for? Define your audience. Personally, I want to work with awesome entrepreneurs, awesome women, and awesome students – with a special interest in empowering working-class and disenfranchised folks.
It’s ok to only work with people you think are awesome. This isn’t your corporate job where you have to play nice. If you can manage to only work with amazing people, I think you can consider that you’ve just won this whole career thing.
- Look at the trends. Right now you are following the trend of solopreneurship. You are a ninja against larger more established firms, you are nimble, quick, and can pivot on a dime. What’s more, open data and new data tools are changing the game – making things like Big data analysis accessible. Likewise, digital design is becoming easier.
Case in point, I’m currently learning to build apps in Swift 3 and I didn’t have a computer of my own until I was 27 – that’s how easy Apple is making for anyone to learn coding. Google is also doing great stuff in this space as well.
Stay tuned for templates to put all this into practice.
Resources Coming Soon:
- Creative Workshop Template. How to go through a creative exercise to get crystal clear on your products and stories
- Competitive Assessment Template. A quick & dirty way to scan your market and figure out the space you want to be in.
- Your Story Brief. This is great to have on hand as you develop your blog, submit articles, or submit to incubators and the like.