A story that comes from surviving in a VERY competitive business niche in the equine industry (making show browbands) but relevant even beyond the bling.
Time and time again in the last week I’ve been hearing people tell me that they just don’t have the confidence to move forward, they don’t know if they can make their business success because they are not doing something that is 100% unique and totally different to everyone else, or that a competitor is ‘making them feel small’ or ‘playing dirty’. It seems that there are many, many business owners out there that are struggling with the beast named ‘fear and doubt’, often driven by their own perception of a competitor/s!
So here’s the thing. I will give it to you straight because that’s how I roll. If you are going to develop a business and make it really succeed, you need to choose something you are really passionate about. If you are good at what you do, and you love doing it, success is ready for the taking.
But thinking about myself eleven years ago, choosing one of the most competitive areas of business, where literally hundreds of people do the same thing, that was just crazy, right? Well I did it and survived to tell the tale, I won’t say unscathed, because I would be lying if I said it was all smooth sailing and never once did I doubt I would make it. I felt the fear, and did it anyway (well, most of the time, sometimes I crumbled in a heap in a corner). I made the decisions I thought were right for my business, then amended the decisions when I realised they were not the right decisions. I felt ‘the beast’ (fear and doubt) charge me a number of times. But the main thing I did that ensured my survival was that I chose not to run.
To be successful in business you don’t have to be the only one that sells a particular kind of product or service, you just have to find your niche, find your POD (point of difference) and do ‘it’ (‘it’ being whatever you do) better than everyone else. So how does one overcome the fear and survive in a relatively small industry?
First up you do it with confidence. In yourself, your product, and your brand. You remind yourself why you are doing your business and what your values are. You remind yourself that you are GREAT at what you do. Daily. If this means you write a journal daily of the one thing you did well that day, so be it. You become ok with the fact that not every single person in the world is going to love you and want your product. You realise that building a list of loyal and valuable clients is about relationships and not about how many Facebook posts you share selling something. And you certainly don’t compare yourself to others. You are you. You are awesome the way you are.
You do it by being genuine and authentic. That means you don’t copy others or use system-ised and standard templated emails, funnels and filters that are not straight from your mind. It means you talk about what you do, and what you offer, not what others do, and what they offer, and how they are wrong. It means don’t get into responding to competitors in any way, so when they offer their product for $100, you don’t offer the same for $99, just to spite them. You don’t see your competitor say a particular thing, and the next day you respond saying why what they are saying is wrong. That’s just losing focus of what you are about and what you stand for. And to be honest, it’s fairly tacky and in bad taste, and people will sense that ‘toxicity’ and they wont want to be around that. If you are truly confident in what you are doing, you do not need to concern yourself with what others are doing and saying. That’s not to say you don’t do your research and be aware of what others are doing, but there’s a difference between that and actually responding or retaliating to a competitor. That never, ever makes you the bigger person. And remember what happened to Voldemort in Harry Potter, and how things turned out for him? (if you haven’t read it, he accidentally killed himself by trying to cast a spell on someone else and it actually got him instead).
You motivate yourself by asking yourself what exactly do you have to lose by NOT moving toward your goal? Write it down if you need to, as a list. Now you write down a list of things you could possibly gain from moving forward toward your goal. And handy hint number 27, if you only wrote one thing in each list and it started with a dollar sign, first of all, you are not doing something you are passionate about and second of all, you are not going to connect with much I say from now on, or anytime really.
You inspire yourself by surrounding yourself with inspiring people. My late mother once wrote something on a scrap piece of paper and placed it on my fridge, where it stayed for many years. It said ‘surround yourself with people that make you feel good’. I lived by that and released a few people from my life that had a negative, knocking or toxic attitude. I gathered my group of inspiring people around me, I kept with them, I stayed positive, and that is part of my secret to how I survived in this industry.
But let’s just stop, take a step back, and think for a minute. What drives your fear, really? Because getting over a fear requires you to know what that fear is and how it came to you. It sounds a bit touchy, feely, even psychoanalytic, but is there a deep reason you need approval, or why you feel anxiety, shame or lack of connection? Is there a ‘blockage’ that is holding you back?
I have recently worked with an amazing lady who has a goal to run a really awesome business. It’s a great plan, a big plan, very achievable, but in working through some things, she realised she had a personal trauma she needed to get over to be able to move forward. It had been lurking quietly in the background, feeding her fear and doubt. Recently, I have watched her recognise her beast and tackle it head on and I am really proud of her to have been able to do that, and proud I was able to remind her that life can (and I even boldly say, SHOULD) have a touch of unicorns and rainbows in it.
I challenge you now to write down the thing that drives your fear most. Because writing it down is the beginning to taking it on. And taking it on is the beginning of being able to move forward. And moving forward… well, you get the idea right?
PS If you are stuck on something and need some help to get ‘unstuckified’ send me an email here and tell me about a roadblock you are facing, and I will send you a couple of no-strings-attached ideas to help you.