Everyone is always saying that we, as business owners, need to ignore the fear we have of trying something new or different. They say that putting ourselves out there is incredibly important to success. And feeling a bit vulnerable is all part of the territory. I know this, because I’m one of the people who is always saying it.
But what happens when we put ourselves out there, allow ourselves to be vulnerable, and the result is a big fat punch in the face? Or worse, radio silence.
Seriously, is there anything more embarrassing than when you open yourself up and share your opinions, feelings, or point of view and nothing happens? No one responds, no one cares, your business is not in the least bit better off for it. You’re left with this weird emotional cocktail made up of embarrassment and regret with a dash of hurt and pinch of bewilderment.
This happened to me when I published last week’s business musing on often feeling like I’m the most driven person I know. I had a really hard time hitting that “Publish” button; and the complete lack of response for the first few days after the post went live had me regretting that I did it.
I felt vulnerable, stupid, embarrassed, and hurt. I felt weird, like I just wanted to pretend that I never said what I said.
And I think this happens to a lot of us in business. As new brands, it’s important to experiment with how you connect with your community. You have to try things and see what they respond to. For me, you guys all have seemed to love when I open up every Friday and share my reflections about working in this crazy industry. I’m glad you do, because I love sharing. But I guess I’m not always going to hit the nail on the head, I’m not always going to write something you resonate with. And I guess I have to be OK with that.
We have to try things, we have to open up in order to stand out, and we have to find ways to connect with our communities if we really want to build businesses that matter.
But in exchange for that we’re allowing people inside our worlds and inside our heads. We’re letting them into the real “behind the scenes” and that’s not easy.
What we can’t do is worry that we’re gonna look or sound stupid. It’s inevitable that we’re going to feel that way sometimes but if we let that feeling stop us from being ourselves, then our brands and businesses will ultimately suffer for it.
To not do this is to run the risk of being yet another fashion brand that no one feels connected to, yet another business that has no real people behind it, yet another sales person doling out the marketing speak. That is not the way to grow a business. That’s not how you’re going to get people to connect with you and your brand. And it’s certainly not how you’re going to build something that transcends trends and economics.
Your job is to build a brand that people feel connected to; you do this by being your imperfect, vulnerable self. You do this by sharing your point of view, even if it’s not the most popular. You do this by using words and phrases that make you, you. In a case like mine, you do this by sharing something you’ve been feeling for a long time but have yet to vocalize, but decided to because you thought it would help your community who may be feeling the same way.
So as you build your business and define your brand, try not to let that voice of reason in your head win. Create a brand that people care about by opening yourself up and making yourself a little vulnerable.
Lots of love and encouragement,