Running a business requires you to be brave and challenge yourself. But if you’re a bit of a business scaredy cat, what can you do to overcome your fears? Kate Toon gives some advice.
In my experience, business scaredy cats fall into four categories:
The ‘don’t show, don’t tell’ business
You want to keep your competitive advantage hidden. You argue that you can’t show prices, display previous client logos or go into any real detail about your services in case a competitor copies you.
Taking this approach hides important information from competitors but also from – guess who? Your customers.
The result? Visitors can’t find what they need, so they bounce quickly out of your site and head elsewhere.
The solution: Be confident enough to put ‘it’ out there. Yes, competitors may copy, but copycats who don’t have their own ideas won’t win in the long run. Customers will appreciate your genuine approach and honesty.
The ‘I’m an expert, you’re an idiot’ business
You’re scared that if your customers start doing what you do by themselves, you’ll lose your power. How will you be able to bamboozle them with your brilliance or command the same rates?
You sit high on your throne, telling everyone they can’t possibly do what you do. You advise your customer not even to learn the basics; instead they should use experts (like you) and pay expert rates.
The result? You come across as a precious princess and your brand sounds scary, aloof and patronising – never a good look.
The solution: Get off your high horse and realise that your customers are just as – if not more – intelligent than you are. Be proactive and help your customers learn the basics, then, when they need more advanced services, they’ll come back – to you.
Anyone can learn to change a light bulb, but you’d hire an electrician to wire your house, right?
The ‘little old me’ business
You have an inferiority complex – you’re terrified of showing off, or trying to compete with the big boys. You want to hide your light under the proverbial bushel and be subtle to the point of total irrelevance.
“I don’t want to be pushy or salesy or too in your face,” you say. And while no one likes the hard sell, make no mistake – if you’re in business, then you’re in the business of selling.
The result? Your business deals in timid vagaries, and your voice is drowned out by your more confident competition.
The solution: Realise that if you’re going to run a small business you may have to ‘fake it ‘til you make it’. If you feel awkward writing about your abilities, ask clients to write testimonials for you and slap them on the homepage. Slowly, you’ll see that confidence is not the same as arrogance.
The ‘living in a bubble’ business
You’ve decided that the best way to deal with competitors is to completely ignore them and pretend they don’t exist. You don’t review competitor pricing or offerings; you wouldn’t dream of reaching out to a competitor to see if there’s any way you could work together. Competitors are the enemy – to be ignored at all costs.
The result? You’re operating in a bubble with no outside influence to inspire or challenge you. You could also be missing out on valuable opportunities to work with other businesses (and competitors) and expand your offering.
The solution: Check out all your competitors and make notes on what you like and don’t like about their businesses. Try to find a competitor who offers similar services to you and reach out to them. Learn to keep your so-called enemies close and they’ll quickly become your allies.
When you’re running your own business it’s important to tackle your insecurities head on and work to resolve them. Without wanting to sound gooey, I believe that it’s only by growing as a person, that we can truly grow our business.
Do you fall into any of the categories above? What 'scaredy cat' business tactics have you seen?
This post originally appeared at flyingsolo.com.au.