If you are a small business owner, you are the Brand. Hesitation and discomfort to market and promote yourself is akin to committing business harakiri. And, yet it is a common predicament faced by many new entrepreneurs and small business owners because it feels boastful and arrogant to talk about oneself, having been taught the value of humility during one's growing years.
As I started out, I faced the same fear. Infact, I would hide behind my company's name to write articles or to express my rather radical views over matters on social media. I posted quotes of other people with which I connected with, rather than share directly what I believed in. It took me a while to find the courage to own my voice, own who I was in the public glare. I bought my first company's domain name immediately but it took me many years to buy my name's domain name. Even today, I write articles extensively to support my customer community but have pushed the idea of making videos and podcasts right under the carpet. I knew I will have to go beyond that discomfort very soon, the moment one of my clients asked to be coached on how to overcome the hesitation to market herself. That is why I love coaching. It forces you to grow, whether you like it or not. I proudly tell everyone how I have build my coaching business only through referrals, which I feel is the platinum standard of building any business. Though, there's an ugly truth hiding behind it, that I hesitate to market myself or talk about myself. I rather have my clients market for me. That's a good strategy to build a hugely value-creating business and yet, it needs to be complemented by strengthening of the Business Owner's Leadership Depth for her to embrace her own Light, so that she can make a much bigger difference through the work she does, the business she runs.
Here's a 5-step process to overcome the fear of marketing yourself:
1. The first step is to acknowledge that you do have the fear of marketing yourself, of self-promotion, of putting yourself out there. Have the courage of self-awareness that this is only a secondary fear. It is arising out of the 3 core fears which are hard-wired in the minds of all human-beings as an outcome of our fear-sourced evolutionary process -
i. I am not good enough.
ii. I am not important.
iii. I am all alone.
Recognise you are not alone in experiencing these fears and a part of our human journey is to learn, grow and evolve beyond these primal fears to step into our highest potential, which is when we can truly live our destiny to live our purpose this lifetime, to make a massive difference through our work, through who we are as human beings.
2. After allowing yourself the humbling experience of looking into the eyes of your primal fears, the second step is to review and reflect on the impact of these fears on yourself, on your target customer community that you are committed to serve and on the world.
As I reflect with you as I write this article, I realise that the impact of my fear in the world is that we have lost VG Siddhartha (Founder, Cafe Coffee Day), Vineet Whig (COO, Encyclopaedia Britannica) and so many more due to their inability to manage the pressures of business and life, due to lack of inner strength to face the inevitable struggles of building a business. I am present to the fact that Business Owners and Entrepreneurs struggle to grow their businesses not so much because they don't have an understanding of Business Excellence or Craft Mastery but because there isn't any focus on strengthening Leadership Depth (you can call it Inner Strength), which is the foundation on which a sustainable, profitable, repeatable, scalable business is built with ease and grace.
Without owning my message to the world, and spreading that message with courage, clarity and confidence, I miss to contribute the only way I know how to the well-being and success of my target customer community that I am committed to serve. This missing to contribute leaves me feeling incomplete and unfulfilled. This missing creates a world, where people feel scared to own their impossible, unimaginable dreams and miss to joyously travel forth like peaceful warriors to realise their greatest dreams in deepest communion with their Highest Self.
Here I am owning my message that you can strengthen your Leadership Depth to Have It All:
i. Deeply fulfilling, successful, profitable business supporting you to live your purpose of life; gifting you with impact, contribution and financial freedom
ii. Loving, harmonious relationships at work and at home
iii. Happy, healthy, responsible kids with their genius joyfully expressed
iv. Nourishing, nurturing yourself to the highest level of fitness and well-being (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually)
v. Making a massive difference through the work you do
and that Having It All is the only way to build a great business because it requires you to elevate yourself to be the greatest version of you.
My message is also that a business is a vehicle for making a difference. Your revenue is an indicator of how much of a difference you are making to your customers. Your expenses are an indicator of your operational excellence. A healthy profit is an indicator of your commitment to your employees.
So, my friend as you hesitate to market yourself, here are my questions for you to reflect on:
i. What is your message to the world that you hesitate to own and spread?
ii. What is the impact of your hesitation, and your fear to own and spread your message on you, your target customer community and the world?
iii. What will you do about it? which is the 3rd step
3. The third step is to ask yourself what will you do once you realise the impact of your hesitation and fear.
Here is what I am committing to doing to embrace my fears and market myself:
i. Start my Podcast
ii. Start my YouTube Channel
iii. Start working on my first Book
What will you commit to doing?
4. The fourth step is to remember that Grace is in Balance. It's easy to fall in the Trap of Self-Promotion when you become bigger than your message, you become bigger than the problem you are trying to help solve in the world, you become bigger than your clients.
The way to escape this treacherous fall is to always remember that you are merely a channel of your message, a channel to solve the problem and that you have a Creator who is so much bigger than you.
5. The fifth step is to do our daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual Review and Reflections; which are very important pit-stops for us to refuel, repair, recreate, reassess and re-ignite our passion to continue travelling in the right direction towards fulfilling our purpose this Lifetime.
Wishing you the joy of the journey.
Love, Gratitude and Reverence for who you are as a human being and for your very special message that the world is waiting for,
What is the single-most important reason why entrepreneurial ventures die? What is the single-most important reason why dreams never get realized? What is the single-most important reason why most of us never live our destiny to make a dent in the Universe? What is the single-most important reason why we never achieve what we most desire, professionally and personally?
Interestingly, the answer to all these questions is the same - Self-doubt. If there was only one enemy that I could shoot down for all my clients, it would be self-doubt. It is a great equalizer. It doesn't matter how successful, how wealthy, how accomplished someone is or isn't, self-doubt has sneaked its way and hid itself very cunningly beneath layers in the mind. It is the legacy of our evolutionary process of survival and is
a vestigial emotion found in all human beings; except those who have consciously worked on themselves to go beyond the clutches of this demon by inculcating daily growth habits. If we stop practising those growth habits, the demon raises its ugly head all over again by getting its nourishment from our default limiting habits.
Let's explore the relationship between self-doubt and business success. Building a successful business is about iteratively discovering a profitable, repeatable, scalable business model much before your passion and resources run out. That means having the inner strength to keep listening to a 100 NOs before that one YES. If you feed your self-doubt, you will give-up after the first few NOs. I echo what Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz say in their book, 'Go for No' - 'Yes is the destination. No is how you get there.' Learnings about your business model really happen in the failures you have. Without the failures, you have no chance of learning and moving forward to discovering your profitable, repeatable and scalable business model. The whole process from a start-up to a Unicorn is an iterative process, with falling down, learning from the fall, integrating the learnings to decide the next action, moving forward, falling down again, and repeating this cycle again and again till you find profitability on Mountain 2 of Building a Great Business; continuing the iteration to climb to the peak of Mountain 3 to discover the formula for Repeatability and Scalability; learning by continuing to fail and discovering the way forward to Scale on Mountain 4; and finally learning how to Corporatize on Mountain 5, again through failing. So, there's no getting away from failure, rejection, NOs if you are upto building a great business that is an expression of your purpose this lifetime. If self-doubt is one of your best friends that won't leave you, then the journey to building a great business cannot be completed because you will give up along the way, lose your motivation, your inspiration, passion, commitment, energy, enthusiasm, self-belief, confidence to keep getting up every time you fall.
Let's understand Self-Doubt for what it really is to get an access to find freedom from it. Self-doubt is really the emotional expression of what I call the 'small mind'. Our 'small mind' is our default limiting experience of ourselves, of others and of life itself. If we don't make a conscious effort, our 'small mind' runs the show in our life, creating limiting circumstances and limiting / no results in our lives. Our brain, by default, is hard-wired with negativity. And, our generic purpose in this lifetime is to learn, grow and evolve to our highest potential by rewiring our brain to be positive and growth-oriented to shift to what I call the 'Big Mind' by working at the level of growth habits across all the 4 bodies of our Being - physical, mental, emotional, spiritual.
The 'small mind' is a reaction to the 3 fundamental fears that we humans have:
i. I am not good enough
ii. I am all alone. No one loves me.
iii. I am not important.
Self-awareness is about being aware of our default core fears and the limiting thought pattern that is a reaction to those fears. Without this self-awareness, we will unconsciously continue to be a prisoner of our own fears and limiting thought patterns; and continue to bang our head against the wall of circumstances without being able to fulfil our intentions or realise our dreams to grow to our highest potential.
My core fears are a combination of 'I am not good enough' and 'I am all alone. No one loves me.'. My small mind is - 'I don't deserve the best. I am not worthy. No one loves, appreciates and respects me. Life is a struggle.', which is a reaction to my core fears. My default limiting personality is a reaction to my small mind - 'I work incredibly hard in my life but without rewarding outcomes in relation to the enormous hard work I put in. I don't experience love, appreciation and respect. Infact, I keep experiencing the opposite of that and the result is I am unable to unconditionally love, appreciate and respect; which keeps the vicious cycle going. I keep working hard playing to get the best but the best continues to be beyond my reach, without my realising how I am at the source of all this melodrama or Maya as we say in our culture.'
How does one get out of this vicious cycle? There are many ways though I have chosen to integrate the many ways after studying, interviewing or getting coached from the master entrepreneurs, the super successful leaders, the masters of their craft, the giants of their field. Not surprisingly, they all share similar growth habits that they inculcate in their daily lives to protect themselves from the ferocious grip of the 'small mind'.
The first step is to be aware of your core fears, your small mind. The second step is to make a commitment to live from your Big Mind and feed that. Our Big Mind is our creation, that we will create consciously; while our small mind is our default limiting way of Being which will continue to run our lives till we choose to consciously feed our Big Mind to win over our small mind by stopping to feed the small mind.
Here's my Big Mind, it's my commitment to myself, my promise to myself how I choose to relate to myself, others and to life - 'I am love, gratitude and reverence. I am success and prosperity. I love, respect and appreciate myself and all beings. Therefore, I experience people's love, respect and appreciation for me. Life is fun and easy.' When I feel people walking all over me, I feel the grip of my small mind and then I remind myself of what my Big Mind is and I know how to respond. When I feel unappreciated, unloved and disrespected, I feel the clutch of the small mind and then I remind myself of what my Big Mind is and I know how to respond. When life throws challenges that throw me on the ground, my small mind wants to push me deeper into the deep ditch of dreariness and then I remind myself of what my Big Mind is and I use my creativity to use the trying circumstances and people who have betrayed and cheated me as opportunities of tremendous growth. If my business hasn't extinguished as yet, it is because I chose to be Big Mind though to chose small mind was tantalizingly easier at numerous occasions. Each time, my business seems to be near its death-bed, my Big Mind helps me to keep the small mind and it's best friend, self-doubt, at bay and brings back my childlike trust and faith in myself, in my impossible unimaginable dreams, in my mission to make a dent in the Universe, in the Universe to help me transform the impossible into possible, the unimaginable into the imaginable.
So, the next important question is how to stop feeding our small mind and start feeding our Big Mind to nourish and nurture it to become strong and healthy. It is through the practise of growth habits. The below habits are your 1st stage habits. I call them Gear 1 Starter RYD (Realize Your Dreams) Habits. By practising these habits, you will awaken the Big Mind in yourself; and de-fang and weaken the small mind. When that happens, self-doubt no longer befriends you and walks out on you, leaving you free and in the joyous experience of - I am me and that's enough. No longer anything to prove, no longer caught in the anxiety of what will others say, nothing to hide, nowhere to go to prove a point, nothing to be embarrassed about. Just a blessed feeling of having arrived on the inside to make a difference through your work on the outside. You will observe success and wealth coming your way as by-products of your having arrived on the inside and having found authentic happiness not linked to any cause. Inside of this transformation, the journey to build a great business truly begins.
The members of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence™, Centre for Transformational Leadership™, Mums At Work™, Centre for Personal Excellence™ and Centre for Coaching Excellence™ can click on the link below to access the online curriculum for the detailed note on these habits.
Gear 1 Starter RYD Habits
1. The Dream
2. Mirror Work
6. Read Your Book
7. Daily Inspiration
8. Buddy Call
9. Physical Exercise
10. Restoring your Word
11. Intention Creation and Scheduling
12. Keep a Journal
These habits are designed to strengthen you in the first leadership muscle - Agility of Mind™.
Wishing you the joy of living your purpose this lifetime through the work you do, the business you run and having the fulfilment of not dying with your Light intact inside of you.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.