Being a creative entrepreneur or a small business owner, I am sure you’ve heard a thousand times how important being authentic in business is today, but isn’t that sometimes slightly overwhelming?
Let’s start with the question everyone asks you – Why did you start your business? And suddenly you feel the pressure to say you wanted to save the world or at least help starving children in Africa. Thing is though, that isn´t what you had in mind. It would have been nice, but instead, you started a business because you wanted a job and you wanted to earn for your family and to be flexible to go on longer holidays with your children in summer and be able to work from anywhere.
Here is the surprising fact. Today you don’t have to have some really special reason to start a business. YOU can be your own reason, your family, your talent or creativity and the desire for self-actualization. I personally think self-actualization is big today. I started my business because I was lonely and bored and I wanted to use my creativity and potential. Otherwise, I felt like a wild animal in a cage. My reason to start a business was not to be seen or to show off. I just wanted to be me. And I think when you state that to yourself you give yourself permission to be who you are, to be honest with yourself, but you also commit to being honest to the rest of the world too.
The second big question asked in business and branding is: Who is your audience? I can immediately answer that one for you: it’s the people who are just like you! They are your audience. You have to look for people with a similar lifestyle, experiences, who also share the same values and views as you. They probably have different skills and talents than yours, hence they need your services or products, but essentially these are the people you will be attracting as your tribe – likeminded people.
This means in order to get to know your audience you have to know yourself and ask yourself what kind of people I would like to hang around with? Being authentic means attracting likeminded people, being fake will attract similar energy. When you know your strengths and weaknesses, when you know what drives you and what motivates you, you will be able to own your power and attract the right people in business and in life. This also means that you will own your brand with ease and grace. The key to being authentic in business is owning your experience and skills and leading by example.
One more component to being authentic is the way you communicate in business. Never forget that you are always leading by example. You can communicate in business not just with words, but with images, the way you dress, the project you stand by, your business collaborations, the people you hang around with…. However, the hardest part is being authentic online, when it comes to writing and posting for your blog, website and social media. I can see and sense sudden insecurity and people looking at what others are doing. It’s so easy to slip out of authenticity when you function online.
The other day I was reviewing a client’s story on her website and in her story, she never mentioned anything about her but spoke only about “we”, despite that she is a “solopreneur” at the moment, and most people know that. So I was wondering who she meant by “we”. Her tone of voice and language created an impression of a person I felt I didn’t know. So I chose two sentences and asked her whether she would use these kinds of words in her everyday language and her conversations with me. First, she said yes. So I asked her to repeat, without looking, what is written on her website. It turned out she couldn’t. She said something totally different and used different words. Remember, today in business people value personal and authentic vs. perfect and professional. In the world of technology all around us it’s natural that people crave more authenticity and more “realness”! Using your own language has profound implications. When you write you have to have the sense that you are saying the right thing for yourself.
Staying authentic online is all about your brand language and the way you communicate with your people.
Being online means you have to monitor your visuals too. Keep questioning yourself: what are my photos saying about me? Take a closer look at your social media feeds and think: The image that you have built – is it aligned with who you really are, with your values and your personality?
Never forget that getting to know yourself and being yourself in business is the most rewarding journey you can be on and it is what brings you real results!
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Your Brand should make your heart sing and make you feel truly alive!