[This post got a massive overhaul on 1/8/2017]
Business owners want to be seen by their dream customers. But getting visible — I mean really visible — usually means doing things that make us uncomfortable. Scratch that: terrified? Yes, terrified is a better word.
There’s a lot of subconscious mumbo-jumbo that goes on when we’re running our own business, and it can be hard parsing that stuff out all on our own. Again, I’m not a psychologist or a life coach, just a thinker and a business owner of many years, and I’ve reached some conclusions about some things.
Let’s start from 10,000 feet. We have a vision for who we really want to be working with, what it looks like to do work that’s fulfilling and profitable, and how our lives would be different if it all were to fall perfectly into place. Right? We’ve all done this exercise: we have a dream for how it all works out for us in the best-case scenario.
(If you’ve reached that best-case scenario, you don’t need to read on, we know you’re busy. 🙂 )
For the rest of us, there’s more work to be done before our life looks like that vision board we created that one time. We know we need to:
- Reach the right people — the people we loooooove serving who value and appreciate us
- Sell them the thing that lights us up — the work we really want to be doing, the work we’re meant to be doing
- Be paid really well — and have our customers feel: “That was worth every penny! I can’t wait to tell all my friends about this.”
It starts with being seen by the right people and showing them who you are, that you’re the one for them (and they’re the one for you).
So let me ask you… can they see you?
And I don’t just mean “are you posting frequently enough on Facebook?” or “are you maximizing engagement on Instagram?” … I mean are you willing to put yourself out there in a much bigger way than you are now?
If you’re thinking, “oh geez, this is going to get woo-woo, isn’t it?” you would be correct my friend.
We don’t often think about the emotional side of running a business and how that factors into literally everything.
How we price our services
What we write about and what we say
Where and how we show up, how frequently, how authentically
I’m going to ask you a question and I want to to take a beat and actually think about it:
What would it take for you to get visible, I mean really visible? What’s that one thing you know would put you in front of the right people, but you’re just not doing it?
Did the answer scare you a bit? I know I can answer that question easily and rattle off at least half a dozen things. (I’m working on it.)
What does that involve for you?
Writing a book about your unique take on things?
Getting out of the office and introducing yourself to real human people on a regular basis?
Making cold calls?
Running ads on Facebook?
Hiring somebody to help you with “that thing”?
Asking for their attention more than once? (Asking dozens or even hundreds of times?)
Getting on Facebook live?
Starting your own online community?
Hosting a podcast?
… what is that thing?
What’s holding you back?
I’m going to assume you’re a human-person like me and the answer is likely some form of fear.
Here are some common culprits:
Fear of success
Good lord, getting visible means you would be like… visible! What would you really do with all that extra attention and cash? Are you ready for it?
Fear of failure
This one’s the easiest if you ask me. “So what?” Every good entrepreneur fails, learns, and keeps on truckin’
Fear of money
You probably didn’t expect this one, but a lot of people have hangups about money that require serious psychoanalysis. *raises hand* Buy a book, take a course, hire a coach, find a way to get over it. If you want to make money, you need to be prepared to allow it to come into your life. Then you’ll start taking the necessary steps.
Here’s the one I think is really to blame for most of our invisibleness, so I want to really dig into it:
Fear of looking stupid and being criticized
Amirite? We don’t allow ourselves to be seen because we’re afraid of flubbing up, looking awkward… having all your friends and family feel embarrassed for you. “Oh honey, yikes, you look so dumb.” (How likely is that to really happen — seriously! lol) Do you want to be struggling and invisible and be cool? Or risk looking stupid, get visible, and live your vision-board life?
Being seen means being super vulnerable — putting our own unique voice out there so the people who need to see it will.
Not everyone’s gonna be a fan.
Not everyone’s gonna get it.
You’re probably going to make some mistakes.
You may feel and even be awkward (at first).
Some people are going to tell you that you need to be doing it differently, or that you’re not “okay” just as you are.
Doesn’t matter, they’re not your people. Being seen doesn’t mean appealing to everyone or never making a fool of yourself. Some people don’t like Oprah, think she cares? She knows she helps people and she’s only worried about those people. And she’s made a fool of herself a time or two, she’s gotten some things wrong. And she turned out pretty good, right?
People who only have negative things to say have nothing to do with your vision-board life, you’re not going to invite them to your yacht parties. The psychic “pull” that happens when somebody doesn’t like you, or get you, or thinks you’re stupid or wrong, or should do it differently, be better, whatever… is just something you need to get over. It’s static that won’t serve you mentally. Don’t let “those people” hold you back.
When criticism happens, it means you’re doing everything right. You were brave enough to say something much greater than the same old boring, recycled, ripped-off bullshit that everyone else is saying. It means you created something that’s unique to you and had the courage to be seen.
Keep your attention focused on the people who need you and the life and business you want to create.
Is getting criticized a really a good reason to not have everything you want?
Criticism Happens to All Successful People and I Have Proof
Go to YouTube and look for an amazing video by an inspirational, successful leader, and I guarantee you’ll see that some people have clicked the “thumbs down” button. The only videos that achieve 100% positive or neutral ratings are the ones without very many views. (They have not been seen.)
In fact, all of this reminded me of an incredible speech by Brené Brown (one of my personal heroes) called Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count so I went to watch it again, and noticed that 327 people took the time to “dislike” the video of this speech as of this date.
Now imagine 327 people standing in a room looking at you with their thumbs pointed down.
But here’s the important part: That’s 327 out of over 1 million people who have viewed the video, and the over 15,000 people who took the time to hit the “thumbs up” button.
Think of all of the thousands of people she’s helped and inspired with her message and what it meant to those 15k people. I know this speech means a lot to me, it’s made a difference in my life. Thank goodness she didn’t let those 327 people hold her back. They’re not her people, I’m her people.
I use a quote from that speech pretty much daily in my business, I have it on repeat in my brain. I don’t allow negativity, bad advice or energy that doesn’t serve me slip through anymore. I’m busy, I have a business and a life to build. It is:
“If you’re not in the arena, also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”
Got it? I literally am not interested. And you shouldn’t be either.
I always try to be gracious in my response when people have thoughts about how I should be (different), but in my mind I just think, “Well? Here’s what you do with that opinion — get in the arena with it and do it your way and for yourself”
Then I get back to what I was doing. I don’t need to be different, I’m already enough. It isn’t that I’m not open to constructive criticism, I absolutely am, I just don’t twist and turn in all directions based on what other people think. I am the “CEO of ME.”
When I first started blogging on this site, every time I was about to hit “publish” I’d feel a rush of terror running through me, I worried I might have said said something stupid, or missed something, or made a grammatical error. I kept getting in the arena anyway.
It gets easier. Especially when you start getting feedback from people who see you and loved what you had to say (and that WILL happen, but you gotta put it out there). What if some day I write something that genuinely helps someone, puts them on the right track, and it affects their life in a positive way? As far as I’m concerned, that one person’s opinion is enough, and that’s the only opinion that counts.
Somebody out there needs to hear what you have to say and they need to hear it from you and only you.
So… what’s the one thing you should be doing that you know will get you more visible, but you’re not doing it because it terrifies you? Are you gonna do it anyway?