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Here's the thing: Self-promotion

I believe in youEvery Friday I post a “here’s the thing” blog. “Here’s the thing” is something my mum (and many other wise people) like to say when they’re about to make a good point. Hopefully these posts are also good points.

One of the most challenging things about running a business that’s just you and your creations is talking yourself up – also known as “selling yourself”. (Which sounds dodgy and undesirable. So let’s call it self-promotion instead.)

Over the last couple of months, I’ve had several conversations with people who are pretty uncomfortable with putting themselves out there for PR, about pages, acknowledgements, and even awards.

Now, I’m not saying you have to do anything. I’m not saying you have to move drastically out of your comfort zone. There are plenty of successful business that quietly go about their business, creating awesome stuff and selling it. They don’t have awards or trophies. They do just fine.

But.

There are benefits to being able to talk confidently about yourself. Putting yourself out there can be good for your business. The trick – and the challenge – is to do it with authenticity.

Being authentic in what you say about yourself not only gives people a realistic impression, it is also absolutely vital for your own sense of self. Go out there and say something you don’t really mean, and you’ll get the heeby-jeebies afterwards. You’ll feel like you did yourself a disservice, that you let yourself down, that you can’t ever see those people again because what you told them wasn’t true and they’ll think you’re a fraud.

And guess what? Self-promotion won’t seem like something you want to do at all.

On the other hand, if you talk about yourself with confidence, courage and compassion, you’ll very likely have a totally different experience. We all know when we’ve read something authentic, that’s from the heart and honest. Not honest in that too-honest, nervous breakdown way, but really thoughtful and considered. You can do that, too.

I promise, when you’re really in touch with your own authenticity, your audience (whoever they may be) will connect with you more.

That’s not to say everyone will love you and you’ll suddenly win 10,000 awards. But you’ll have put something good out there into the world. The people who like you, the ones who comment or buy from you or give you the press feature – they’ll be doing it because they really mean it.

And I believe anyone who sticks their head up over the parapet with something honest and authentic to say is worthy of all the awards. In fact, I think anyone running their own business deserves a big old trophy on their wall. You’re awesome. FACT.

So here’s the thing:

Write yourself up. Not because there’s one specific award you want to enter or PR feature you want to win. Write yourself up because it’s good practice for when you do want those things. And it’s great to have stuff on file that you can refer to.

Some tips for finding good and authentic stuff to say about yourself:

  1. Find three things you’re really good at or proud of. Maybe no-one else has done them before, or you really beat the odds to do something. Maybe you’re always the first to see the silver lining. Or your business is completely eco-friendly. Or you’ve built a business with no external investment. Or you’ve built a business and a family all in the space of 5 years. Or you’ve designed incredible bestsellers in between hospital visits (for whatever reason) – it’s not a sob story, it’s your truth.
  2. Uncover the story. Whether it’s an award or a journalist, they want a story. They want to know the beginning, middle and end of your success. How did you start out? What were the obstacles? How did you overcome them? What’s the next bit? Where will it take you? And you don’t have to try to seem perfect. If it was bloody hard and took you 25 goes, that shows that you’re resilient and hardcore, which might just be what they’re looking for.
  3. Think of yourself as a friend you love and respect. Or a daughter or younger relative you adore. What would you say about yourself through those eyes? Maybe you suddenly see the quiet but passionate light in your eyes. Perhaps it’s suddenly clear how amazing it is that you’ve made 10,000 customers happy. It’s all true.

This is an exercise is self-belief. No two ways about it. And the dark, sinister voices in your head (let’s call them Fear and Vulnerability) don’t want you to believe it for a second – too risky. Well, F and V, you can F right off!

There is business sense in believing in yourself. There’s a whole load of other stuff too, but I have a feeling if I tell you it’s for the good of your business, it might seem a bit more essential…

Just do ten minutes this weekend. I dare you.

Jx

What’s your best foot? Do you have tips on presenting yourself? I’d love to hear!

A mid-week reminder

no one knows what they're doing
Source: Pinterest

This is a bit of a spontaneous post. On Tuesdays, I have calls with two of my mentoring clients, and today I had an extra call scheduled in. I’ve also got a whole load of clients who are busily, earnestly preparing for Christmas.

So it’s been a day of insight into the challenges and common concerns of small business ownership.

And I just really need to say: no-one really knows.

If you’re worrying that everyone else has it all together, please just let that go right now. Because while someone might be better at organising their stock than you, they’ll find creating new products (or keeping up with orders or adapting to new things) way harder.

And if you’re having a day that means you really just wish you had a business partner or a boss or someone else to take responsibility – even just for a day – you’re not alone.

This is crunch time, this September time. There are loads of decisions and deadlines to make. Cash flow is all tied up in a billion things. Things seem risky and exciting and you don’t always know what to do.

If you need a bit of clarity on your to-do list, ask yourself:

  • Does it have a definite deadline? If so, stick to it. If not, reconsider.
  • Will it make a difference to your business today, next month, or by the end of the year? If it’s going to radically improve your sales/income, efficiency or brand perception, move it closer to the top of the list.
  • Is it something you really, really want to do? If it isn’t going to get you out of bed in the morning, it goes down the list. And make sure you’re really imagining the reality of making whatever it is happen – unglamorous boring bits and all.

Normal service will resume on Friday!

Jx

Here's the thing: Just before back to school

 

Catching the last lights of summer
Catching the last lights of summer

Every Friday I post a “here’s the thing” blog. “Here’s the thing” is something my mum (and many other wise people) like to say when they’re about to make a good point. Hopefully these posts are also good points.

Can you feel the autumn air creeping in? Maybe you’re trying to hold on to the summer for just a little longer. Maybe you’ve been saying, ‘Eee, the nights are drawing in’ with a sharp intake of breath since 22nd July. (Hi, mum.)

Right now, we’re on the cusp. We can feel it coming, but it’s not quite here yet. The sun could still come out for an Indian summer. We still have time to enjoy the last shimmers of light on the horizon.

For me, the shift into autumn makes me want to write essays about poetry (especially the works and lives of T S Eliot and e e cummings), and read All The Books. Preferably in New England surrounded by orange trees.

In reality, I buy knitwear, stationery and thick socks. I start thinking about soups and stews and things made with carrots. I still read All The Books.

Perhaps for you there is a genuine back to school feeling – by this time next week, your child(ren) will be back to a routine, or starting a new routine, and they’ll be out from under your feet. I know for a lot of small business owners who are also parents, there’s a sigh of relief. Because while you love your children, you also crave routine and time to run your business.

Whether you have kids or not, this “new term” will be big for your business. For the majority of small businesses I work with, Christmas is the busiest time of year, and while you’ve already been planning and preparing, September is when it all starts becoming very real.

And if we were all in a room together right now, I’d ask you to raise your hand if that seems quite scary, and the vast majority of the audience would wave at me. Some would look terrified, some sheepish, and some would look a bit jaded like they’ve done it a million times (but still worry).

I know there’s still stock to order, temporary staff to recruit, product descriptions and photos to finish, lists to make, and work space to prepare.

I know cash flow is tight, and trade shows are coming up, and there’s a vague sense of dread about long days and not enough sleep.

But right now, while it’s still August and there’s still light past 6 o’clock, let’s not wish our lives away. Let’s savour these last summer moments, and look forward to the first thrills of autumn. In many ways, we still reap the harvest during these next few months. It’s just not really from the fields these days…

So here’s the thing:

There are nearly three full days before September. I promise, on Monday, you’ll be able to make all your lists and preparations and worry about Christmas and staff and stock.

Before then, let’s celebrate!

What was your favourite bit about summer 2014? Which moments do you want to remember? Write them down, look through your photographs. Put something awesome together that you’ll love to look at later.

How could you celebrate this transition and welcome in the new season? A special dinner with your friends, kids and/or other half? A last barbeque perhaps? Even if it’s just savouring a cold lemonade or summer-y drink for the next-to-last time, there’s something beautiful and meaningful in marking a shift between old and new.

Which nice things about autumn are you looking forward to? Are you planning a new stationery collection or wardrobe? I totally made a Pinterest board of lovely autumn scenes to remind myself of how beautiful the world gets in October. Find positive things to look forward to, rather than just getting stuck in the worries and panics.

This weekend is perfect for one or two little celebrations and positive thoughts before we actually reach September. Whatever you’re doing, I hope you enjoy it!

 

PS I’m working on a little e-course to support you through the busiest weeks of the year. I can’t WAIT to share it with you! Keep your eyes peeled in the next few weeks.

optin-cup

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