Being an entrepreneur means wearing many hats. Marketer, Sales Director, Visionary, Administrator, Goal Setter, Head of Finance – whether or not we actually hire people to do this for us or not. So it’s not surprising that the essence of ourselves and the brand that stemmed from us can sometimes be diluted and distorted from the vision that we had for ourselves and our business at the very start.
We often look to others, whether that is virtually or physically in front of us, seeking references to validate and reassure us that what we are working towards and the directions we are taking are the “right paths” to win the ultimate goal of having a successful business. And yet, success looks different to us all. Our dreams are different, our desires are different and our level of what ticks those ultimately prescribed boxes of success are also different – and we are ultimately seeking external validation for something that was created from within.
Now yes, that is a pretty heavy two paragraphs to digest and you may or may not agree, however, the point is we often look to outside cues and markers to validate what we should be checking in with from inside ourselves.
When we create a brand and business we have an idea, a dream, something that feels good and right to us that will be birthed and created to help others. Whether service to others is your main goal, doing something that lights you up, making yourself the master of your own world or all of the above, we forget that this magic. That magical spark from within is actually the key ingredient to building brands that matter and create change. That is the key ingredient to building brands that are meant to last (if you want them to) because we are building them upon strong foundations with clarity of vision and inspired values.
Creating a brand experience (and a brand altogether for that matter) that reflects who you truly are is the ultimate gift to your clients. Being yourself and owning your strengths and your flaws, by embracing that you are wonderful but not perfect helps your clients decide if you are the right fit to help them with the aid that they seek. This can be a hard concept for an entrepreneur who started their businesses in order to help others as much as possible, but you’re not for everyone and that is okay.
Creating a brand experience that stems from you, allows your clients to really connect with you and build a relationship with you that is deeper than a one-and-done transaction, that stems genuine interest, loyalty, commitment and enjoyment of interacting with you and forging genuine relationships whether that is for a short or long term. The key here is you.
Sharing your values, your vision and your purpose with others in the special way that you do gives them the power to decide if you are the right person for them.
Imagine this… you are going to your nearest Starbucks, you know what the building will look like, where to queue, how to order your drinks, where to collect them and what to expect from the seating area, the toilets will undoubtedly be a little gross and you take comfort in that. Predictability, reliability, and comfort in the familiar, and yet, it is completely devoid of genuine relationship-building and change-making connection. Yes, the barista may be wonderful and you take the time of day to exchange pleasantries, but at the end of the day it’s a Starbucks and the interaction is transcribed in their corporate manual for every Starbucks you walk into.
Now imagine a local coffee shop that is portrayed in any mainstream movie. The person within the coffee shop narrative is familiar and friendly, they know all the details and cherish the protagonist’s journey and are along for the ride with you. They are key to parts of the story but they are just along the sidelines of the hero’s journey. This is your role in your client’s journey. This interaction that is portrayed time and time again in this movie narrative is integral to the story role not because it helps the story move along but because it helps you connect, the feel, to empathise, to decide whether you like or dislike those characters and allows you to be on the protagonist’s side (most of the time).
You will undoubtedly have your own real life experience of this type of interaction. Although my example is based on fiction, you will have your own interaction that sparked joy, enabled connection and made you fiercely loyal and supportive based on how this person made you feel.
Now apply this to your own story. This is not about you coercing or pretending to be on someone’s side, this is about genuine connection, and genuine relationships and giving the power to others to decide if you are the person for them or not and the best way that you can do that is to be yourself. By sharing all of those beautiful elements of yourself, your values, what you stand for, how you help people in your own unique way and what outcomes you can help people achieve allows you to embrace your own unique talents, attract your ideal clients and do it with integrity and service to others, ultimately building an intuitive and conscious brand.
A study conducted by PwC found that “64% of U.S. consumers and 59% of all consumers feel companies have lost touch with the human element of customer experience” and A recent study by Enboarder and Forbes found that 94% of employees are more productive when they feel connected to their colleagues. We crave connection and relationships but more than that, we crave genuine connection. We don’t want businesses to be the jack of all trades, we like to feel valued, to be seen, to be understood and to feel like people are genuinely in our corner and the more we have moved away from that in the last 50 years of marketing, the more damage it has done to connection for humans as a whole, we became numbers, statistics, goals on a target sheet and yet, human connection is a driving force in overall business success.
Kim Peterson Stone, CEO of Linkability.us (LinkedIn) uses several references to the importance of human connection for the advancement of business, quoting “In all of these instances, it was the relationship between myself and my partners that helped drive sustainable business. It had little to do with having a huge following or whether or not content went viral. It had everything to do with using the technology as a bridge to create a deep, meaningful, and intentional human connection.” She goes on to say that “Our humanity is what helps us relate to one another. In fact, the need for meaningful human connection is so deeply rooted within us that it permeates every aspect of our lives- even business.”
Therefore the invitation is there, to look from within, to connect to your story, to share it, to express who you are, and how you help people and seek that human connection to be your perfectly imperfect self, in order to empower others to decide if you are the right person to help them. Remember even if you aren’t the right fit, if an interaction is still meaningful and a real connection is made, even though this person may not be a first-hand customer they could be one of your biggest supporters, referral partners or become a good friend. Allow others to discover you, so that you are able to help them better.