7 Rules for Expressing Yourself in Business or Entrepreneurship
Someone once said that "sometimes life is about risking everything for a dream no one can see but you."
That someone wasn't me, but I wish it were - might as well have been, since that's how it is a lot of the time.
Oh, how I love that quote. And if we're being honest, the true definition of entrepreneurship is risking everything with no guarantee of the outcome - often, visions of great companies start with one pair of eyes only and expand into other hearts & souls along the way.
If you have your own business, online or otherwise, today's post is for you. I have you on my heart often, because I'm also a business owner.
Maybe you have a Mom & Pop shop uptown where you sell handmade soy candles and other artifacts; maybe you co-own a business with your significant other and need to make things work between your work and home relationship, or maybe you have your own blog and business online, much like I also have and express yourself through who you serve.
Whatever your venture, as an expressive introverted woman, you are somehow expressing who you are and some set of core values through what you do - your work. That expression probably shows in the way you treat your customers, the way you handle your patients, or the way you relate to your 3rd party vendors.
When it comes to online business, you probably most likely express yourself through Pinterest boards, videos, blogs, or social media posts - and most of all, your ongoing relationships with your clientele (and other professionals online).
Expression isn't just about how we do our art - it's about how we navigate through different contexts of life and handle circumstances.
Specifically today, I'd like to stick to entrepreneurship & business as it relates to 7 rules for expression and introverts I've constructed, as opposed to touching on the more corporate side of things, although they are more and more requiring much of the same mindsets across the board for optimal success to happen.
These are rules I'd like you to remember and cultivate as you build an online presence, brand or business from the ground up or even re-vamp something someone else had a vision for and started.
1. Be stubborn about your goals & flexible about your methods
Stubborn about where you wanna go and really flexible in how you get there. When studying with Marie Forleo in her signature B-School program, I learned the power behind the phrase "always be marketing."
Basically, what that means is that we need to be flexible about our methods - something might work really well for someone else online and not for me - and consistent with our efforts. We should always be looking for new or better ways of doing things, while remaining consistent in doing so. A lot of entrepreneurs are only good with one or the other.
Likewise, I never want to lose the vision of where I'm headed, while remaining VERY thankful for the now and where I'm at today - presence frees us from our ego.
2. Don't wait for permission
"Done is better than perfect." ~Sheryl Sandberg
In the corporate world there's a saying that "it's sometimes better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission." I kinda like it!
And if you've ever held a job anywhere, you have been in a situation where you had to make this decision. Entrepreneurship is no different. The only difference is that, when you're creatively directing or calling the shots, you often find yourself mostly asking for forgiveness more from yourself rather than from others. [clears throat] (Perfectionism).
The true crux of owning your own business is that you get to make the decisions - your content strategy, how you deliver products & services to your right clients, how you show up in each social media environment - all your call. That being said, don't wait for permission from someone to do it how you want to do it because you'll always get their version of how they think it should be. The internet and our democracy allow you the freedom to build how you want to - take advantage of it, and if you wanna try something no one's ever done before, by all means!
I had someone write me about 2 weeks ago and ask "how do you get all these women to interview for your blog and how do you know they're introverts?" Here's my answer in bullet points:
- I gave myself permission in 2011 to build my business the way I want to - a huge and never-ending thanks to Marie Forleo for giving me that in her B-school program (changed my life).
- I gave myself opportunity by establishing online relationships the introvert's way - no shame in my game - I don't need to go to everyone's dang conference to powerfully connect with others.
- I gave myself equality. I finally saw myself as an equal. So, it doesn't matter if someone is a millionnaire and I'm not - I'm still a person and highly qualified to do what I do. That means I'm also qualified to have a conversation with that person and make a connection - we don't have to be besties to be a powerful force online. That's how I connected with one of the greatest mentors I've ever had in business & life, Loren Ridinger. It's also how I worked up the nerve to ask Susannah Conway to interview for our Expressive Introvert interview series this month (looking forward to you meeting her).
If you can ever get over this hurdle of equality, it will change your business.
3. Know that you can't rush something you want to last forever.
Building an online business takes time, my dear. There's no way around it. It takes patience of an epic kind to:
- Figure out who your business serves
- All of the ins and outs of your brand conversation
- Why you do what you do
- The one question your business answers
- The psychology behind your right client
- The palette you want to use for your brand's visual representation
- Which social media accounts to use or not to use: THAT is the question! (lol)
- Who to connect with in your niche
- How to continue growing as an entrepreneur while trying to also grow an online business
- How to market your products & services with empathy and true heart vs. salesy and wishy washy
- Where to guest post
- Who to do webinars with
- Who to collaborate with
This is just a start of all of the things we have to think about! So it goes without saying - it's not an overnight thing. Trust me - the people you see online who are hugely successful have a back-story - if they're not sharing it anywhere, that's their prerogative, but it's not letting you see their journey. If they somehow were some overnight success, that might not be someone you want to learn from.
Building trust with your online customers, colleagues and other professionals, takes a LOT of time. If you have any reservations about giving a ton of yourself and your knowledge away, you need to work through that - you won't be able to rush something you want to last forever.
Don't under-estimate building slow.
4. Keep everything in integrity with your values - always & no matter what
I recently got an email from a good friend & colleague of mine online, asking me if I was still planning on launching an eCourse or program with a particular title because she remembered me having/using it at one time or saying I might create a course with the name. She is preparing to write a course & wanted to respect the space around titling her product - if I was still planning on using the title, she wanted to make sure to avoid it, but she couldn't quite remember if I had used it or not.
This meant a whole lot to me because this is rare - especially in online business. A lot of people won't care to even ask or take the time to consider writing an email like that. I gotta tell ya - it meant a lot to me. It proved and showed this person's character, spirit in which she does business and her integrity.
It's crucial in business, whether online or otherwise, that we walk in integrity with our values and what we authentically believe in and stand for. This includes not hiding things in order to try to make our situations look better or more robust than they are - are you a one-woman show? Say so. Do you still do everything on your own? Let them know.
True presence and life now is what's most important - you'll see or hear this from me on occasion with regard to working full time while also having my online business. It's where I'm at right now, and I want to be transparent about that. I love both, and both is what I've chosen for the time.
If I'm totally honest though - there was a time I didn't realize how powerful this transparency was, and I hid all of it - tried to make things look differently. That doesn't connect w/ people and it's not what's real.
More and more, I'm finding that real is what we all want to see - in business owners and companies alike.
5. Don't be scared of the word 'investment'
I want to be transparent here - I've invested (monetarily) in my business now, with a select few people online, whether paying for their programs, eCourses or other services of some kind to move my business forward.
- Marie Forleo (B-School program)
- Abby Kerr & Tami Smith (Empathy Marketing)
- Allie Rice (Coming web design, header design & other design services for my social media presence and the online identity of my brand)
These are only monetary investments and don't count countless webinars, videos, blogs, articles, and other online content I've gleaned from online to push my business growth. You might be shocked I don't have a laundry list of investments, but I'm very selective and methodical about who I invest with and when.
And I will raise my hand high and be the first to tell you - it was painful yet beautiful to dish out thousands of dollars for these investments to these ladies. And I did it because I fully trust their visions, their direction with their own companies and their minds and expertise.
So far, they are my triple threat - without them, my business would not be where it is today and I would still be stuck in confusion about where I'm going or what I'm doing. As my business strategy takes shape, I will add to the collection.
Can I just take a moment with you?
I don't want you to be scared to invest in your business - I promise you that you are smarter than you think. When you decide to invest, it'll be right and it'll show huge returns, not only financially, but spiritually and physically, as emails flood into your inbox, people trust you with their stories and share your work online. Your marketing efforts will snowball and your influence will grow.
6. Find immense power in consistency
That said, don't be afraid to consistently push out the brand value you are building - through Pinterest boards, social media accounts, your blog, webinars, courses, and other ways of marketing.
Here's the key though: it's about consistency. And look, I'm not perfect. Just recently, I sent out a heartfelt update to my peeps who are signed up for my list, sharing with them about my most recent creative block, which included them not hearing from me for a few weeks. Probably only the second time that's happened to me, but it does happen. Especially when you're a one-woman show.
The rest of the time? I'm on schedule. Every other Tuesday, I'm updating my people on what I'm doing, where I'm at, what I've created for them and how to keep going in their life. Every Thursday, I share a vintage blog post on Facebook. Every time I publish a new blog, it goes out to all my sites immediately automatically. These are repetitious acts of connection.
Yours might be totally different (and that's great!), but make sure they're there. People more connect with those who consistently show up for them than those who sporadically do and apologize every time. That's the most assertive way I can put it.
7. Start learning to separate the PRO who does the work from the PERSON who's behind the work
If we can ever fully learn this, it will revolutionize our work and how much we're able to get done. I learned this from author and entrepreneurial inspiration, Steven Pressfield, in his book The War of Art. I'd also highly suggest you read his other book, Turning Pro.
In The War of Art, my favorite short chapter reads:
The pro stands at one remove from her instrument - meaning her person, her body, her voice, her talent; the physical, mental, emotional, and psychological being she uses in her work. She does not identify with this instrument. It is simply what God gave her, what she has to work with. She assesses it coolly, impersonally, objectively.
The professional identifies with her consciousness and her will, not with the matter that her consciousness and will manipulate to serve her art. Does Madonna walk around the house in cone bras?...She's too busy planning D-Day. Madonna does not identify with "Madonna." Madonna employs "Madonna."
Alright - interesting metaphor, but you get the point, right? Steven's not saying that we have to separate ourselves - that's not possible. What he is saying is that in order to move from amateur to PRO, we must learn the art of separating who does 'the work' from who we are on a day-to-day basis when we're not doing the work. One of them is employed - getting paid to do what she loves and feels a responsibility to make it happen for the returns she wants to receive.
So....now....I'd love to know...
Which one of these is most difficult for you and why (in your own business or in your life, either one)? I'm also interested in hearing what most works for you from your own entrepreneurial or work experience regarding one or more of these.
As always, thank you for reading & connecting with me here. I think you're pretty great & have a lot to offer the world. Keep your vision!
PS - no links in this post are affiliate links - just hardcore sharing on my part - connecting you with true resources. ;-)