By Rebecca Cafiero, TEDx Speaker, Bestselling Author, Podcaster. Founder, The Pitch Club, helping entrepreneurs increase credibility, visbility & profitability.
The formula for success often seems to be an elusive mystery; everyone promises it with a different recipe, yet many only have marginal efficacy.
Over the past decade, in my experience coaching thousands of female entrepreneurs and sales professionals to achieve their personal visions for success, there are three basic questions that always prelude a clarity session together to lay the foundation of the individual’s success story.
What are your business goals this year (that support your five-year goals)? What are your challenges in achieving them? What has or hasn’t worked to overcome those challenges?
Most are very clear on their vision for success, in both the short and long term. It’s what they’ve dreamed about achieving. For many entrepreneurs, those dreams are founded on making a difference in the world.
The responses regarding obstacles cover the gamut from time, strategy and money to resources, their teams and support. While they absolutely believe that their mentioned struggles are real, my experience points to a very different answer.
I’ve seen female entrepreneurs, businesses and startups that had time, strategy, support and resources in spades, yet were ultimately unsuccessful. On the other end of the spectrum, many of my favorite clients had all of the obstacles but achieved massive success.
The number one thing I see holding women back from really stepping into their genius, from owning their magic and from having the success they dream of, is promotion — actually giving themselves permission to promote their business, offerings and value. If you’re not successful, this could be the reason — more significant than money, time or resources.
The definition of promotion? To further the progress of something (especially a venture), to support or actively encourage. Without promotion, there’s no visibility, and regardless of how much credibility you have, you can’t create impact without eyes on your business.
Don’t we all want to do that? To support and further our businesses, impact and income? You can’t wait for someone to give you opportunities; you need to create them by raising your hand and asking for them. It’s time to pull your seat up to the table instead of waiting for an invitation.
First, ask yourself why your business, offerings or value deserve to be promoted. What does a world without you and your business look like? Who is impacted without your solution?
1. You Versus Your Business
We have been told that we shouldn’t talk about ourselves, that we will get what we want by hard work, keeping our noses down and being selfless. That’s incorrect.
Our businesses are not us. We are the human beings breathing life into our businesses. If you believe in the value your business has and its ability to create impact, why wouldn’t you give your business every opportunity to grow?
Think of your business like a baby. It’s pure potential that will need so much work, hand-holding, protection and also advocacy. What would you do to help your child be successful? Ask for extra resources at school in the areas in which they struggle? Tell them they can accomplish anything they set their mind to?
When you realize you are the human breathing life into your business, you accept that it’s your responsibility and privilege to promote your business. There are simple yet effective ways to step into promoting without feeling narcissistic or out of integrity.
First, I have my clients fill out and sign a physical permission slip, giving themselves the permission to promote their businesses, and instruct them to place it somewhere visible in their workspace.
2. The Alter Ego
Second, we create an alter ego, a safe place from where they can promote themselves and fully support their visions of success.
An alter ego is an alternative personality, distinct from our normal personality. By creating one to promote our businesses, or speak on stage, or show up on podcasts, we can step into the higher versions of ourselves well before we have completely become that person. We naturally do this, adopting a different personality in the ways we interact with our kids, with our partners, when meeting strangers or while talking on the phone.
Ask yourself: How would I show up to promote my favorite business or person? Am I certain, passionate, excited, magnetic? Or, how does the future me, who is a sought-after expert in my field, carry herself? How does she step in front of an audience? What are those qualities?
Once you define the characteristics of your alter ego, ask: How can I embody them now? Next, name her so that you can call her forward when you have an uncomfortable task in front of you, like a sales call, pitching yourself or any other activity that stretches your comfort zone.
3. Intelligently Promoting Your Business
There are different areas to promote yourself and your business that will be unique based upon the products or services you offer, as well as your own experience, comfort, personality, time availability and budget. Make sure you are doing what will work for you, not just chasing the shiniest object or social media platform that has a buzz. Here are some of the areas and platforms to consider:
1. Online/social media
2. In person (associations + networking)
3. Your email list
4. Past client referrals
5. Paid advertisements
6. Power partners + affiliates
7. Exposure (press + podcasts)
Ask yourself, what has worked best in the past? How can you intentionally double the effort there? Select an additional three to focus on. Rank them according to how they fit in your life and business now and schedule time to dedicate to them.
Without promotion, the best products, services and people will never fulfill the potential for creating the change and impact they are meant to have. As Simon Sinek famously quipped, “Martin Luther King did not say, ‘I have a mission statement.’” So, go out and advocate for your dream.