What should I change?
I wrote and published this blog post yesterday evening, but something was nagging me the moment it became public.
This doesn’t really sound like me. It’s not getting to the heart of what I really want to say.
Then this morning, as I read in Braving the Wilderness about Brene Brown’s speaker experience at one of the world’s largest leadership conferences, these words just clicked:
“I’m not here so my business self can talk to their business selves. I’m here to talk from my heart to their hearts. This is who I am.”
Over the years, I have felt a lot of insecurity over who my “blogging personality” is. When I started my business in 2013 and felt I should have a business blog, my writing reeked of inauthenticity and that turned me off so much so that I killed the blog.
But now, as I cautiously make my return to these public story waters, I want to make sure that I’m doing what Dr. Brown said: speaking from my heart to yours.
What has lead me to this place — this moment where I feel stronger in my voice — is the evolution of my work.
When I first launched, I was a social media strategist for social enterprises.
Now, nearly five years later, I'm a content coach for creative women. Oh, and I'm owning my identity as a true-blue writer.
What changed? And how? And why?
The evolution from my business's first incarnation to what it is now wasn't an overnight overhaul. It took a series of thoughtful (and sometimes impulsive) pivots and changes to get here. It has taken me time to better understand and embrace my sweet spot: that intersection between my mission, vision, values and strengths, and what my ideal clientele really need and want.
I’ll just say it: embracing your sweet spot means accepting experimentation and uncertainty into your work, and I’ve never been down with uncertainty. But uncertainty has taught me a critical lesson: not every disappointment is personal. This frees you to do what you must to design business — and life — on your terms.
Some of what I tried in the past made perfect sense and resonated deeply. Others, not as much. When the latter happened (and it happened a lot), I had to take a hard look at what I'd created and ask myself why my work wasn't making a connection.
Asking yourself that question is painful, but it’s essential if you want to have a profitable, sustainable business.
And when you’re ready to understand what’s not working for you, you're ready to go back to the basics: they're guides on what to do next.
1.) Pay attention to what your clients are saying or responding to.
- What feedback are you getting on your work and/or content?
- What's resonating most with your clients and/or audience?
- How is your work making them feel?
- What are they not mentioning at all?
Your clients' experiences — in their own words — are the greatest clues to what you need to do more and less of.
And if you're new to business and have yet to sign a single client, ask the people you most trust about their impressions of your work. Talk about your products and services, show them your website, send them content you've written.
It doesn't matter whether or not these people perfectly represent your ideal client; what matters is what you can learn about the potential experience of anyone who comes into contact with your work. These impressions may actually highlight things you haven't thought of.
2.) Pay attention to what's happening in the market.
I am a strong believer in what other people do is none of your business (literally and figuratively). I don't believe in copycatting, and I don't believe in doing things because “you should."
But when you're figuring out what changes to make in your business, it helps to look at the landscape you work in and take stock of what’s happening. Find answers to those questions I listed above, but within the context of your industry.
This isn't so you can artificially incorporate trends into your work; it's to expose yourself to new ideas and evaluate which of those ideas can help you do your work better.
3.) Pay attention to your gut.
- What do you really want to be doing?
- What are you willing to experiment with?
You have a sense of what your strengths are, and whether you're a novice or more experienced businesswoman, you'll also have a sense of what you want to do.
The biggest lesson I've learned about being in business for myself is you have to be as comfortable with an analytical mindset as you are with raw instinct. Neither ensures a clear win, but paying attention to both stories will guarantee you have a stronger chance of making the right decisions for you.
Paying attention to what both stories will help you find and use your strongest voice.