Leading your business with your name is a critical step to nurture trust. It can be especially challenging for us introverts to get out in front of our business. Seven lessons learned to help you lead your business with your name.
“So, tell me, what would you like to be known for?” asks Audria Richmond when she works with clients who want to build their brand.
Scary question, hun? It freaked me out when I first heard it.
Yet, somehow, I pushed through, and I’ve picked up a few lessons.
Lesson #1. Hiding Behind Your Business Limits How Much You Can Help People
I was so used to effacing myself that I wasn’t really sure that I was allowed to be known for something. It was about the service, I reasoned. The business is about being in service to the people, to an idea, to a mission.
If were I asked that question now, the logic to self-efface wouldn’t hold up. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense being invisible when you’re trying to build a business. People trust your business because they build a relationship of trust with you, the person leading the business.
Here’s a key point that I think helps drive home the point:
More than ego, becoming the face of your business is the responsibility of any expert, entrepreneur, or CEO. Anyone who has worked hard to build something and scratched and saved to make a dream come true, and is willing to fight to make a space for themselves in this world deserves to be seen. And so do you, Love. —Audria Richmond in Are You Ready for the Yes? How to Prep Your Personal Brand for Lucrative Opportunities
So, how do you make that happen? How do you lead your business with your name?
Myself an introvert, the fingers of fear squeezed my heart. I had to remember to calm down and try to think rationally.
After I pushed myself through accepting the reality of what my business vision truly is, I started working through what needed doing.
Lesson #2. Overcoming the Fear of Coming Out in Front of Your Business, Especially If You’re an Introvert
I had to trick myself, kind of.
Whenever I would feel anxious, I would focus on thinking only about the key tasks and milestones that would be required to get the job done. I decided to use what I learned managing projects in my day job. I’d imagine what getting the job done would require, regardless of who would actually do them.
Whenever the thought of who would do those tasks came up, I would park it.
I would think “I’m just doing a job for my boss, figuring out the requirements to get the job done.” I would make myself ignore the fact that the “boss” was really me, the owner. For now, I was just the manager figuring out what needed doing.
Lesson #3. As a Business Owner, You Have Different Types of Roles to Play
I had learned a few years before about how a business owner needs to be aware of how her time and focus must factor in dealing with three major roles:
- the entrepreneur
- the manager
- the technician
These roles define the nature of the work you do as a business owner.
Michael E. Gerber writes and talks about these roles. He’s written books about what he calls the e-myth. His point is that people are failing in their business ownership goals more than they need to because they don’t understand the distinction between these three major roles and what that means for how they organize themselves and the work of their business.
I found learning about these roles extremely helpful balancing my expectations of myself. It also helped me diagnose my natural strengths and weaknesses. This helped me identify where I might be spending too much or not enough time in ways that would impact my ability to grow my business.
The following post explains what these roles are and gives practical examples of how they impact the work of the business owner: The Three Business Personalities: Entrepreneur, Manager, and Technician.
These ideas help you figure out ways to support you with leading your business with your name.
Lesson #4. Getting Comfortable Standing for What You Believe In
Getting back to Audria Richmond’s frank advice about getting out in front of your business, it’s important to think about what that means for you in practical ways. It probably means writing a book, giving speeches, teaching courses, doing interviews and much more. These things mean you need to have an opinion about something.
Now I can tell you that as an introvert, I certainly do have opinions. Very strong ones, even.
Audria’s words made me see how I had been playing it safe only sharing my opinions with people who are close to me. Sharing my opinions to a room full of strangers, or a bunch of unknown readers, felt and still feels overwhelming. Some people won’t agree, and many may criticize. Oddly, what felt even more intimidating was the prospect that people will agree and want more. That’s good. Really. It’s not so good if you’re afraid to stand in your beliefs and trust that more ideas will come to you to help the people who are looking for helpful answers.
Lesson #5. Finding the Courage to Speak Your Truth
Finding the courage to speak my truth was hard work. Have you ever noticed how each one of us seems to have that one special thing to learn in life? In a way, we feel haunted by the same issue over and over again. And every time we recoil from taking the action we need to take because the fear is too great, is another opportunity missed. Whether we like it or not, we begin to see that pattern showing up in our life over and over again.
For me, that life lesson was about learning to speak my truth. I’ve landed very hard, more times than I care to admit, avoiding speaking my truth beyond people close to me. The consequences of not learning to speak my truth has cost me a great deal, and at so many levels.
The bottom line is that there comes a day when we look at the balance sheet between the cost of not learning that life lesson and the cost of overcoming the fear, and we realize that we’re no longer willing to continue to pay the fee that comes with avoiding the lesson.
I’m not sure how I found the courage to speak my truth. I can say that I have put in place certain mechanisms so that when I feel the creepers of the fear starting to sneak into my thoughts and feelings, I can see them for what they are. I don’t know if I neutralize them. Rather, I think I just tell myself to keep moving forward, one baby step at a time. Even if that baby step is so tiny the distance barely measures a sixteenth of an inch, or a millimeter, or whatever, I know that I have made progress. I did not stop at the fear. Somehow, I found ways to move through the fear to take some kind of action.
I remember learning about this from Brian Tracy a few years ago when I read his book The Psychology of Selling: How to Sell More, Easier, and Faster than You Ever Thought Possible.
You only feel anxious doing something that you think you are not particularly good at. Every single step that you take to improve in any area raises your self-confidence and increases your likelihood of success each time you try it. –Brian Tracy in The Psychology of Selling
Every step forward counts and accumulates to create higher performance. That accumulation translates into momentum. So, yes, each step forward makes a difference.
In this way, you can take baby steps moving from the back of your business to the front of it. The next thing you know you are leading your business with your name.
Lesson #6. Clearing Up Old Issues That Are Holding You Back
Clearing up old issues is critical to moving forward. When your energy is sapped, whether actively or subconsciously, dealing with old issues, there isn’t much room left to take on new stuff. And whether we like it or not, the old issues tend to trip us up as we move toward our newer goals.
If you try to suppress those old issues, it backfires. It backfires because you are still holding onto them. Suppression doesn’t mean release.
Releasing an old issue is the way to go. There are a lot of tools to deal with releasing old issues. The key point is that you’re letting it go in such a way that at some point the issue no longer carries any emotional weight or value to you. You can talk about it as though you’re describing the plot line of a movie or a book. You’ve come to a neutral space about it.
Joe Vitale is one of several authors who talks about this. In his book Attractor Factor: 5 Easy Steps for Creating Wealth (or Anything Else) from the Inside Out, I learned many useful things. The most critical related to this point is that you have to let the old sh*t go [my interpretation :-)]. If you don’t or cannot, you’re spinning in the same hamster wheel. It’s difficult to move forward if you’re stuck in the same cage.
There were a number of things that helped me understand the extent to which I needed confront and/or clear up old issues. Some were emotional. Others were related to a series of things I experienced that caused burnout. Some were related to old ways of thinking or being. While others were very pragmatic and practical issues.
For example, because I still work full-time for an employer, and it makes sense that I continue to do so to support my family of five kids and my disabled husband, it was important to resolve any perceived or real conflict of interest issues before rolling out my personal business projects. I needed to make sure that I could focus on building my business and not worry that I would accidentally get in trouble with my employer. I didn’t want to risk having to shut things down for something I could have proactively avoided. It was important for me that I continue to contribute to my workplace in meaningful and constructive ways. It was essential that I make sure that the parameters of my business building intentions fit within my employer’s policies and guidelines related to outside work.
After several consultations with the designated people, including applying course corrections to my original plans based on those consultations, nearly four years later I received formal approval that what I was proposing for my business was not in conflict of interest. That day in Spring 2018 was a day of great celebration for me. Finally, I could stop revving my engine at the stop light and actually start moving forward to get on with the work to meet my long-term vision for my business.
Waiting for that day also meant a lot of patience not taking any public facing action. That didn’t prevent me from studying, learning and practicing for the day when it would be okay to publish blog posts and books, make speeches, and so on.
Lesson #7. Always Be Learning and Practicing
I learned a lot about myself and my business projects during that conflict of interest disclosure process.
While I was in a holding pattern, I didn’t sit idly. I continued to learn. There are many great people to learn from. People like Jon Morrow at Smart Blogger.com about building a blogging business. I learned from the American Writers and Artists Inc (AWAI) team, and their many instructors, about writing persuasive marketing materials and writing for the web. And so much more.
There comes a point though when you need to apply what you’re learning. You need to see how it works in real time for you. So I built up a few websites to learn about WordPress in practical terms. I learned how to host and install WordPress, how to apply plugins and themes and so on. I practiced writing marketing copy and used a few tools to promote what I was writing. Some stuff worked out okay, and other stuff wasn’t so great.
I learned how to use the tools in the Google suite, such as YouTube and Google Analytics. I’m a data geek so I especially love the tools that allow me to understand what people need and want, and the ways in which I can meet them where they need and want.
There is so much to learn and not enough hours in the day. Just remember, every baby step forward counts. Even if you hit setbacks, as long as you keep moving forward however minuscule your step. People might not see the difference, but you will know the difference.
So, What Can You Do Leading Your Business With Your Name?
Gary Vaynerchuk encourages people to take advantage of the tools that exist today to share their special gifts. He makes the very valid point that these tools allow people with very little money to create something big and influential that can make a big difference in peoples’ lives.
The post Permission gives you an idea of how he feels it’s a great time to be alive. That opportunities abound and are at your fingertips. You just need to get started by being you, and sharing that you with people leveraging the power of the Internet.
Here are a few ideas to keep you moving forward.
- Write out your ideas on a piece of real or virtual paper.
- Imagine what it would feel like to be doing what you love all day long. You need to capture that information in writing to make it more real.
- Remember to be patient with yourself and with the process. Every single step forward is a success. See it and celebrate it as such.
- Figure out where the gaps in your knowledge and experience are. Then, think about what you need to do to bridge that gap. Learn about it. Find ways to practice it.
You got this.
What are you focusing on right now to move that baby step forward leading your business with your name?
Original published August 5, 2017
Revised published August 18, 2018