205: How fear can stop you from being you, creating your niche and building your community
Listen to the podcast:
How fear can stop you from being you, creating your niche and building your community
Read the episode transcript:
Unharnessed fears and insecurities can totally stop you from building a successful solopreneur business. In this episode, I’m going to put a crack in your resistance to deepening being more YOU, claiming your piece of turf in the marketplace and growing the community that will make your business enormously profitable.
Establishing your niche and building community is all the rage in marketing a solopreneur business. It’s the rage for two reasons: one, it’s how marketing has evolved given the state of the digital world and how we can more easily connect with very precise demographics of not just specific people, but also their interests. Two, it’s what the marketplace wants so they feel connected, heard and they get more of their needs met faster. Technology has made this proximity possible and the marketplace is more and more demanding precise communications and solutions because they expect their suppliers and providers of services to know exactly what they want. As business owners, we are expected to be mind readers and know our audience’s most important desires. And, we’re expected to fulfill on those desires with expertise, with the highest quality and provide the ultimate customer experience. There are less and less barriers to understanding what people like, yet we are overwhelmed when it comes to making sense of the data so we can provide our audiences what they need.
This trend is powerful. It’s rooted in human DNA and our instinct for survival—we have a need to be part of a community, or tribe, to belong, and to have synergistic relationships with others who share common beliefs, desires and aspirations. And it’s a good thing. It’s transforming how we all do business, and has launched solopreneurs into the stratosphere of income potential. Tribes are nothing new, however, our ability to identify and label them as marketing devices are.
On the other hand, it’s made for a noisy landscape because many solopreneurs still haven’t figured out how to define their brand, their niche or identify their ideal client well. We end up with a “sea of sameness” where solos are using the same marketing funnels, website templates, branded photo shoots and typography to create something pretty, but that really isn’t unique to them. They’re competing at a level of sameness because they’re copying others to find the secret to success.
Now I know these are rather general statements, and I don’t necessarily feel comfortable making general statements, because I believe that we each have the potential to stake our niche on that hill that no one has discovered yet. Yes, we share many similarities in that we basically want good things for ourselves and those we care about. We want to act in a spirit of service and help others, and we want to be good custodians of the planet. Of course. This upswell of care and concern is palpable, especially among the generations taking center stage in the economy right now.
I am energized by what I see that’s happening in the business world, especially with solopreneurs. I love seeing people who are passionate about a topic and who put the powerful skills they’ve cultivated over the years to use or those who have a strong desire to improve something or do something differently and are diving head first into innovative creating. It’s a breath of fresh air and I love that this digital age is birthing such unlimited potential and possibility for millions.
So you can get some value out of this topic, let’s take a look at why we resist digging into a precise niche, making that niche ours, and opening ourselves up to the audience that niche is designed to serve.
It’s understandable why solopreneurs copy competitors or businesses that they aspire to become more like, or follow the trail of breadcrumbs left behind on their way to success. It’s a bumpy journey, however, when taking this path to building a solo business because solos run the risk of losing their identity in the fog of what was their icon’s brand and presence in the marketplace. On the other hand, solos can also have just as hard a time trying to define their own brand and presence in the market because they struggle to understand their skills and value as well as what a certain segment of the marketplace really needs—especially if it hasn’t been identified or created yet.
Let me unpack this into three areas: the first area being your brand. Solopreneurs have the luxury of creating brands that are a reflection of their personality, background, interests, skills and weirdness. Since solopreneurs are building their businesses primarily on something they are an expert at, it makes sense, doesn’t it? However, many solos fall short of expressing who they are in the public arena because of fears and insecurities. I get it. It’s challenging enough to start a business, go to market, and ask for sales. Plus, it’s hard to learn about your ideal client when you’re just starting out. Many of the assumptions we make as solos about our target market are proven incorrect over time as we get to know and work with them. This is normal, so don’t let it surprise you when it happens, and encourage your audience and clients to share what they want so you can learn to better meet their needs.
The key to dialing in your brand so it’s distinct from competitors is to be more you. That may sound a bit smart alecky, but it’s truth. I spend a lot of time studying solopreneurs and how they express themselves through their communications. I’m sensitive to what they are saying, what they are publishing, how they present their information, and how they conduct themselves on social media and in front of the camera. I love studying the landscape of solo businesses because it truly is the wild wild west. The solopreneurs who are nailing it are the ones who are comfortable with who they are and are unafraid to “let it all hang out” on the public stage. In fact, I’ve chosen solo businesses to work with over others because they showed who they were unabashedly. Others fail because they are trying too hard to be “the perfect choice in the market” or “what they think their audience or ideal clients want to see.” They come off as arrogant and self-aggrandizing. I believe the marketplace we’re in today prefers the former, and rejects the latter because it’s old, tired and obvious.
Your takeaway should be to examine your level of authenticity at being you. Invite others who know you well to review your communications and use their feedback not as criticism or judgement, but as a barometer of how well you’re being your authentic self. I have been publishing marketing and communication tip videos for over a year (and if you want to check them out, hit up YouTubeTerry.com) and what I hear over and over about my videos is how much they show my personality. My goofiness. My in-your-face-stop-doing-stupid-stuff advice. My ability to laugh at my own blonde moments and digressions. I don’t edit those moments out. I don’t delete them. In fact, when I watch my own videos where I’m being myself I crack up every time because I’m funny. I’m goofy. I’m savvy and I really care.
If you fear showing more of you, it’s okay. Do it anyway in spite of the fear and insecurities you have and the act of doing so will cure you of your insecurities and fears because you’ll see the result of being you and how it improves your business. Remember that your fears and insecurities are all based on stories that you can change. They are merely thoughts that you decided long ago to keep agreeing with. So stop agreeing with them and create new stories that support your dreams.
Next, choose or create your niche in the marketplace. Now this is a big topic, and I’m not going to dig into the nuances of it other than how you should view what creating a niche for your solo business means. It’s not too dissimilar from being more you. In fact, the more your personality and interests and passions drive the niche you choose, the more sustainable your business will be from your perspective. Meaning, if you are working in a niche you love, being yourself and loving every minute of it, you’ll be able to do your work for years to come and have an amazing impact on the lives of many people. That sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? But if you pick a niche that’s still a bit broad, or may be copying a niche from someone who appears to be successful, or following a trend, you will struggle. Trust your lifelong experience, personality, temperament and preferences will lead you to create a niche that is a suitable fit to how you want to run your solo business, and that there is an audience who wants what you offer.
Many solos worry about niching too narrowly for fear they will exclude people and reduce their viability as a business because the market segment is too small. Although that could be the case in some extreme situations, but I have YET to find someone who has done that. Sure, there are generalists out there that have celebrity or personality brands, and let me tell you they have spent a LOT of money and time building that up. I want to reassure you that it’s okay to start small, create a small niche and focus your business on serving a few, not many. Over time you will build a strong following of eager clients who come to you because you provide a very specific, clear result they want.
Lastly, when you think of your community, your tribe, it can be scary to commit to serving a specific group of people in an open and generous manner. Serving a community is a selfless act, even if you are leveraging the sense of community to grow your business and gain referrals. Consider serving your tribe no different than how any business serves its longstanding customers. You want to create advocacy and a clear understanding of what your brand stands for through the customer experiences you create.
It’s easy to get caught in the trap of feeling that community means you have to serve thousands of people, which is partly due to the unbound arena that the digital world affords us. However, some of the best communities are small, intimate and have a greater sense of access between the solopreneur and the tribe. There is value in that sense of attention and access, and people will pay for it.
Now that I’ve unpacked this a little more for you, can you see where your fears and insecurities can really stop your business from becoming more profitable? Do you feel more ease about your fears around these topics now? Do you feel just a tad more confident about allowing yourself to be you, to own a niche you love and bring in a community of people who adore what you do and who you are? I am giving you permission to be you and do your thing, solo. The rewards will blow your mind.
I ask you to consider these three areas and explore how you can strengthen your courage to take steps toward being more you. Own your niche. Create community with pride. You will be surprised at how well it will attract people who are looking for someone just like you and are happy to pay your fees and support your causes. Why? Because you are an original, my solopreneur friend. Only YOU can do what you do the way you do it. So get out there and make it happen!