Updated June 1, 2018
I believe that deep down inside every entrepreneur there lies some form of insecurity–something about them that they’re afraid will hurt them in their business if anyone finds out about it.
Maybe you think…
- You’re too old.
- You’re too inexperienced.
- Your learning disability is something your clients won’t understand.
- Your physical disability puts you at a disadvantage.
- You lack formal education so nobody’s going to think you’re credible.
- You don’t “look the part” (and feel awkward using a real photo of yourself anywhere on the web).
- You come from a country or religious background that people won’t accept.
I’ve witnessed people struggle with all of these things, but when they open up and share their vulnerability, it actually draws me to them. They’re struggling with something and that’s what makes them human.
I’ve also noticed that these types of insecurities have been overcome by other successful entrepreneurs. The difference? Rather than downplaying it, they turned it into a brand asset.
Is it possible that the thing you’re downplaying or consider a “weakness” is the very thing that sets you apart and exactly what you need to “put out there” to get visible and find “your people”?
I’m the worst at following their own advice. And I know I’m not alone in that: I often see marketers without a marketing game plan, business strategists without a strategy, designers with crappy websites… it happens because we’re too close to our own internal bullshit.
One of the things I encourage my clients to do is to “own their superpowers” — to smash conformity, be themselves, hone in on what makes them different and be brave enough to put it out there. My tagline these days is “Brand Bravely & Attract Clients You Love.” I believe in that motto. I believe that we hold ourselves back from really putting ourselves out there and that keeps us invisible.
And what did I do? Rather than being brave, I just did what I thought was expected of me and I made assumptions about what people will accept about me and I downplayed it. I make it as invisible as possible.
The thing I was most afraid of people knowing about me
I’m going to take my own medicine and put this out there because I really can’t ask people to go through this exercise if I’m not willing to do it myself.
The one thing I downplayed the most is the fact that I live in Croatia. It’s not that I hid it, or that I’m not proud of my new home (I am), it’s just that I didn’t showcase it and shout it from the rooftops. It was something I tucked away in the corner at the bottom of my bio, something I felt “I’ll explain if I have to and if it comes up.”
As an American, who is used to (mostly) American clients, it’s a gigantic insecurity to move overseas where wages and price expectations are lower. But what’s changed really? I’ve always been location-independent: I’ve worked with Brits, Canadians, and Californians from my office in Alaska; I’ve worked with Alaskan clients and New Yorkers during the time I lived in Paris; I’ve worked with clients from Australia, Germany, Washington D.C. and Ohio from my new home in Croatia.
It’s always been global, and it’s never mattered. Nobody’s ever had a hangup about this but me, nobody ever expected me or asked me to lower my prices… it’s just a silly thing that goes on in my brain.
It’s hard to see these things when we’re so close to them, and our internal chatterbox can be such a jerk sometimes.
I’ve come to realize it’s an asset, it’s what sets me apart…
I realized that my experience living here has taught me a lot of lessons that are worth sharing. Things that people benefit from knowing about, like…
There are sometimes real limitations on how you conduct business, and you have to make peace with that and find a workaround — no excuses.
Living here has made me realize how spoiled I was living in America, where everything focuses on convenience and consumerism. You sort of assume the whole world operates in the same way and at the same pace but it doesn’t.
Imagine not having access to the conveniences you depend on every day, or only being able to shop one day per month because you have to travel some distance to get to the stores… so every time you “need” something — your printer runs out of ink or whatever — you can’t just run out and get it, it goes on a “list.” And some of the stuff on the list you’ll never find and you just have to be like…
I’ve had to learn to work around productivity issues in creative ways and be zen about the whole thing so I can get shit done. I don’t let lack of convenience hold me up, I make do with what I have. My internet sucks sometimes? I find a workaround. No excuses.
When I tell people these stories…
They pause for just a moment to be grateful for what they have. Whatever they’re complaining about that day, they realize that it could be worse, and they think about the excuses they’re making that are often times just silly.
What they don’t do is say, “What?! Your internet goes out sometimes? YOU’RE FIRED!”
People can be pretty understanding, especially when you’re doing your very best for them. And if they can’t be, they’re not people I want to work with anyway.
Sometimes my limitations have a huge, bright, glimmering silver lining.
I can’t network with people face-to-face unless I travel long distances, and I can’t meet face-to-face with clients either. This hurt my business tremendously at first, I won’t lie–I lost some loyal local customers who couldn’t accept the “permanency” of the long-distance relationship and that stung.
But, here’s the advantage: it has forced me to market my business in a way I never really had to before. I’ve had to learn how to do it and now I can help my clients all the more. For anyone dreaming about running a location-independent business? I’m their gal. I get it, I mean really get it.
I can only work with people who are comfortable working around time zone issues, working remotely, and meeting via Zoom or Skype. And it turns out there are plenty of people like that out there, they’re “my people”.
See, as much competition as there is out there, the beautiful silver lining is that we don’t have to be everything to all people anymore and we shouldn’t try. We just need to understand who “our people” are, show up as who we truly are (so they’ll recognize and relate to us) and then only worry about THOSE people.
My lifestyle has become a brand asset
I live in a small, rural community on top of a hill just outside the main village. I am surrounded by beauty and peace and I have very little distraction other than the usual internet noise. My life is simple but it’s far from boring and I’m incredibly active and productive.
I’ve learned to live without conveniences, and having limitations and an absence of choice means I’m more focused on what matters. I take the time to walk in nature every day, I practice yoga, I read, I sleep well, I focus on work for long periods of time without any mental chatter.
Why was I hiding that?
I realized I’m now in a unique position to talk about matters of overwhelm, productivity, focus, and the impact western society and technology has on all of us. I can talk about how it is possible to keep a roof over your head even if you don’t have a way to network and meet with people face to face. I can talk about “deep work” as the key to getting more done than you think is possible right now, and the impact energy and stress and sleep and self-care has on your business’ bottom line.
My brain is wired differently now and that’s a real strength, so I talk about these things more openly now. It sometimes takes awhile to really “own our superpowers.”
Just take a peek at what I was downplaying y’all…
This is my lovely little village… the view from my daily walks.
This is my back yard. Our property neighbors a forest and a vineyard. Plenty of space to hike and run and play.
This is a Dubrovnik (also known as Kings Landing and as seen in Star Wars) — one of THE MOST INCREDIBLE places on the face of the earth. I went there! 🙂
Weekend trips to places like Venice, Budapest, Prague… no big deal.
[For more Croatia eye candy, you gotta check this out.]
What insecurity is standing in your way and holding you back?
99% of the battle to get visible with your dream clients is having the right mindset.
One thing I’ve learned is that if you’re not clear about who you are and who want to attract, any marketing initiative you put into place is going to feel like stabbing in the dark, winging it, and just doing things (but not getting anywhere with it).
In my book, The Client Attraction Mindset, I share all of my “Aha!” moments, paradigm shifts and exercises that helped me go from learning mode, research mode, “I’m scared shitless” mode and put a real plan into action that helped me attract clients I love again.