As a new business owner, I found myself struggling with how to integrate my authentic self – my beliefs, purpose and personality – into my brand. I knew that I wanted to attract clients I can serve best – socially-conscious professionals who care about aligning their business models with an authentic approach. I worried about how I should promote my services. I didn’t want to come off as too edgy in the face of larger corporations, nor too sterile to innovative start-ups. And since trying to be all things to all people makes you nothing to everyone, I eventually stopped worrying about it so much. I now just do what I feel, and it's working.
Living authentically requires a large dose of vulnerability, which requires a larger dose of courage. It feels risky but is extremely liberating. When you unapologetically show up in the world by doing the work that you are passionate about, you will attract the right clientele to support your business. Keep these three points in mind as you consider how you choose to show up in the world and how those choices can impact your bottom line.
1. BE TRANSPARENT. Nobody likes a phony. Your customers will not respect you if you don’t tell the whole truth all the time. It can’t be a one-time deal – transparency must be integrated into everything you do. We all make mistakes and it can be a terrifying experience for a business entrepreneur. If you make a mistake, own it. Mistakes are your biggest resource for building trust. Owning them means you're honest and responsible. Standing firm in your authenticity allows you to share your struggles with clients, which humanizes your business and fosters customer loyalty.
2. FIND YOUR PURPOSE. Across all platforms, purpose is a better motivator than money. It’s no secret that clients want to buy from businesses that create a meaningful, social impact. The good news is that every business has a social impact. We are all here helping each other in some way through offering our products and services. You don’t have to solve all the world’s problems, but you do have to find your contribution to society and articulate it. When you define your purpose and integrate it into your brand, you organically attract a community of those who share your values and want to do business with you.
3. MAKE ROOM FOR CO-CREATION. Businesses can no longer create value alone. Intellectual ownership is a shared resource in the social era. The innovation and engagement that happens through open platforms of idea-sharing is priceless. The notion that the client doesn’t know what they want and we have to tell them is no longer valuable. Your clients believe they know exactly what they want from you and they want to tell you about it. Ask them and then listen. When you start the conversation, you’re able to move your business initiatives to the forefront because you are choosing the topic and you set tone. When you listen, you will learn exactly how and what to sell to your customer base. Co-creation is an inexpensive and effective way to create brand loyalty.
These three important points will naturally align themselves to support sustainable growth in your business. The rules for creating value is constantly evolving in our ever-changing market. When you are connected to your customer base, you have access to relevant information to help you make the right decisions to meet the demands of change, and the more authentic you are, the more your customer base will want to connect with you.