I believe that deep down inside every entrepreneur there lies some form of insecurity―something about them they’re afraid will hurt them in their business if anyone finds out about it. For example, 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 to be a “weakness” is the very thing you need to put out there in order to get visible with “your people”?
Playing It Safe Isn’t Safe At All
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 to be brave enough to put it out there. But it’s hard taking my own advice sometimes. As hard as I try to walk the walk, I’m too close to my own internal bullshit to recognize when I’m playing it safe.
My tagline these days is Brand Bravely & Attract Clients You Love. I believe the only way to really get visible with the right people is to be brave enough to let them see us.The only way to really get visible with the right people is to be brave enough to let them see us. Click To Tweet
And what did I do?
Rather than being brave, I just did what I thought was expected of me, made assumptions, and downplayed the thing I thought people wouldn’t accept about me. I made it as invisible as possible.
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: I downplayed 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. Why? Because I worried people wouldn’t hire me because of time zone issues. Or assume that I would be willing to work for very low pay because I wasn’t living in the states.
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 being an expat is 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.
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 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”. And I only need to worry about being visible to them.
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 a while 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.
What insecurity is standing in your way and holding you back? What would you do differently if you weren’t afraid?
If you’re not crystal clear about what sets you apart from the competition, or how to tell the unique story of you (in a way your customers will care about), be sure to check out The Brand Story Blueprint.
Taughnee Stone is an award-winning designer, brand strategist, and location-independent business owner for over 15 years. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, she now lives in Croatia with her husband, energetic Samoyed, and three bossy cats.