Struggling with the fear of selling yourself, your brains, your work, your creative genius? Yeah, I know a thing or two about that too. And as evidence that things are getting quarantine crazy, I’ve decided to show how we can push past that fear with an inspirational quote from the Secret Life of Pets 2.
In the movie, a wise old barnyard dog and two city dogs were going along life-as-usual when the situation turned a little … scary. A dog who was used to the comforts of apartment living was suddenly being asked to navigate a slippery slope in order to bring another animal back to safety. In that moment of cartoon peril, Rooster, the old barnyard dog, said:
“The first step towards not being afraid is acting like you’re not afraid.”
In business, we’re constantly pushed to the edge of a cliff and asked to scale the side, knowing we could slip or stumble at any moment, for the sole reason of saving others from some kind of pain. Health coaches aim to save their clients from being prone to diseases. Jewelry makers aim to save their customers from toxic self-deprecation by helping them feel more beautiful. Teachers create products or courses to better the world.
When put that way, being a business owner sounds heroic, doesn’t it?
Your work matters and your bravery in putting yourself out into the world to sell your wares is admirable. We happily sacrifice the comfort and ease of a J-O-B and instead put our livelihoods on the line in order to pursue something we believe in passionately. Not only that, but we put ourselves on display, inviting the world to judge our every move, criticize us daily, and provide snide behind-the-back musings like:
- Who does she think she is charging that much?
- Who does she think she is to create something new?
- Who does she think she is to make me an offer?
- Who does she think she is to push her business in a time like this?
Most of the time (maybe even all of the time), those snide little comments live inside our head — nowhere else. We imagine others are muttering them behind our backs, but the reality is, they’re too busy trying to find safe ground to give you a judgey little side-eye.
And yet, we’re forced to go forward lacing our thoughts with these words. But as the wise old barnyard dog said, the first step toward not cowering back to where it feels comfortable is to act like we’re unafraid of what the world thinks of the work we’re doing.
But Anxiety in Entrepreneur-hood is Real, Yo
May is mental health month — and boy has 2020 dealt us a dose of needing awareness around mental health lately. That’s even more true if we’re a working mom trying to stay afloat with our business during this time. A whopping 81% of working parents said their focus and attention span has been negatively impacted their ability to engage effectively at work during the COVID-19 crisis, according to a study by Bonnier Corp. Ultimately, that lack of engagement has led to anxiety and this Covid-related anxiety will end up costing the US economy a whopping $341 billion when all is said and done.
I firmly believe entrepreneurs who are simultaneously trying to continue to show up daily carry a heavy mental burden that’s causing this disengagement. Not only are we distracted with a lack of childcare, but we’re also couped up in social isolation left with our own thoughts like the ones above. These are the thoughts many of us mutter every time we hit post on social media, launch a new offer, or try to make a buck in exchange for the value we bring.
I just wrapped up a launch of my first course. I know the material is solid. I know the value it brings. And yet, I felt those same pangs of anxiety and ran those same destructive words through my mind more than once during the experience. Toxic? You betcha.
It was from that experience that I decided it was time for a reframe. That single reframe has worked wonders for how I approach my business, how I decide what to focus on during the day, and how I’m going to do the four-letter word many entrepreneurs shy away from — S-E-L-L.
Focus on Offering a Solution; Not Making a Buck
In analyzing the fear of selling yourself, I found that the problem we often face is how we think of the transaction. We feel like we’re bugging people with our offer when instead, we’re actually serving them value on a silver platter. We think we’re bothering them when we reach out when really we’re trying to help.
Think you’re bugging people when you offer them something to sell? Think again.
Too often, your customers are stuck in a cycle where they’re unsure about what they need. They’re wrestling a problem that they desperately want SOMEONE (you, perhaps?) to solve for them. When you make an offer? You’re not putting your hand out asking for money. You’re helping them find a solution to a raw and real pain.
Reframing your mindset around what you offer can dramatically improve how you present what you’re selling. When you focus on your business from a place that lacks confidence, you struggle to put yourself out there. When it comes time to sell, that struggle bus drives even faster. You catch yourself saying things like, “hey look at this thing I made that could maybe help you if you want to look at it, but hey, NO PRESSURE!”
Let’s tweak that script a bit, shall we?
If you want to know how to show up, start here:
- Look at the data — what do your customers want from you?
- Look at the conversations — what are your buyers asking for from you?
- Look in the mirror — what are you well-equipped to deliver?
Anxiety and self-doubt are amazingly real. They’re also amazingly common, which means if you can do this simple reframe and come at the world from a place of confidence, you’ll already be doing more. Spend your time blasting your message boldly from a place of HELP and you’ll spend less time trying to think about what to say. Because after all …
… offering genuine value is always easier than trying to hide behind a veil of what we think we’re “supposed to” say or “should be” doing. Let your hair down and show up to serve.