In this final post about self-employment, I explore self-belief. Belief in yourself, when no-one else shares that belief.
The truth is, everyone is better than I am. They are better than I am at one or more things. I am also better than any person at one or more things. If I focus on the former, I shall feel under pressure. When I focus on the latter, perhaps less so.
However, where I am better at something, it depends on who I’m compared with. This is not a recipe for superiority. The way I see it, we all have something to contribute on a small or large-scale and this may vary depending on context.
Your market is the people who benefit from your unique contribution. In this sense everyone has a market, even if their market is one person. A carer may primarily care for one person, for example.
So, your market is those who hear what you’re saying, understand it and want your help. You need to express your offer clearly and help people connect with you to decide whether working together will be mutually beneficial.
You also need to communicate clearly with people not in your market but may know people who are seeking your service. Arriving at a clear statement of what you offer takes time.
You need self-belief while you work out your offer to your market. In the early days, when no-one is interested, it can be difficult. You know you can do the job and need to believe enough to persuade others.
Remember, if it feels like no-one believes in you, you must not share their belief. You need the belief of your market only; their understanding of your offer matters and not really anyone else’s.
I find it most difficult handling, often well-intentioned, peer assessments of my offer. Most of what they tell me is helpful but sometimes I’m not so convinced they are right.
For example, it has become clearer that my offer is primarily for coaches or consultants; people in business because they have something they believe will benefit others. So why, they say, do I continue to bang on about community and the local economy?
I don’t talk like other marketers and there are at least two reasons for this:
- First, many coaches and consultants share my values. Indeed, this is my signal to people who are on my wavelength. People who agree with me that Sheffield City Council’s policy to cut down 75% of the city’s trees is an attack on the local economy, are likely to agree with me about other things too.
- Similarly, I know lots of marketing jargon; eg sales funnels, lead magnets. I try not to use this jargon in my marketing because it is not where I start. Many marketers sell their knowledge and expertise. I start with my client’s business. We learn about it together, we plan their marketing, which can involve a range of approaches and then we can work on implementing them together. The aim is to help the client work out how to market their business.
We all need to find the language that will be heard by our market.
I’m largely self-taught. I’ve followed many courses and worked on various projects and built a portfolio of experience.
I don’t have fixed views on what is viable. My experience informs my views. I may ask a client whether they have considered an alternative approach or thought about their offer in a different way.
I have my views on what works and the pattern of support I offer is to some degree predictable. But the real value is in the ways we adjust the approach to the client’s needs. We do that by exploring the client’s business at a depth they have not experienced. They describe their business in detail and I respond to that description.
Am I right? I am the right choice for my clients, so far. I am not a good choice for the business-person who knows exactly what help they need. They may be better off with a specialist. Most people who freelance rarely find opportunities to share about their business in depth.
So, yes I believe in my business. I need that belief to keep going. If my self-belief falters, I could go under. Self-belief matters to me and to you.
How do you hold onto your self-belief?