Finding strength in uncertainty
I think it’s probably fair to say that, if you listen closely, there’s a growing sense of anxiety for the future right now. In the UK, we’re in a political crisis. No one knows what will happen post Brexit. No one knows the impact this is going to have on our trade, our businesses, our clients… and meanwhile, those of us that have travelled over the summer will know the devastating effect all of this is having on the pound.
Given that backdrop, it’s hardly surprising that there’s a growing sense of unease and uncertainty in the entrepreneurial community right now. Many of us have found it challenging to get back into our groove after the summer and collectively perhaps we’re feeling that things are a little tougher, a little slower, than we’d like them to be?
A very human and instinctive response to all of this would be to turn inwards and let panic get the better of us. It would be easy to feel as though we needed to water down our offering, start going after every project and lose sight of all of the things that make us brilliant. It would be easy to let this impact on our communications: to water down our message, lose our passion and be less than captivating in our marketing.
Now, more than ever, is the time to stay laser sharp on your offering, to be dazzlingly clear-eyed in what sets you apart from everyone else in your industry and be utterly confident that you are worth every penny you charge, and more.
Use this as an opportunity to refine your communications
I distinctly remember the effect of the economic downturn in 2007. After having more work than we knew what to do with, suddenly, and almost without warning, the sales dried up. It was September 2007 and it should've been our most profitable quarter of the year. Instead, I was having to fight for every single piece of work.
Naturally we freaked out. It must be our fault, but why? Had a new competitor sprung up that we knew nothing about? Had we upset or offended people? Were we too expensive? Suddenly not good enough?
It all fell into place by December when the news reports started using the R word. Britain was in recession. Businesses were cutting back and of course, one of the first things to go was marketing.
It was a tough year. But it was good for us. It made me work so much harder to stand out, hone my message and refine our offering. Over the next few years my business was in a stronger place than ever. It had to be.
I learned so much. Over time, I noticed that the most visionary entrepreneurs were treating this as an opportunity. They were making the most of the fact that their competitors weren’t marketing and they were using the lack of noise as a chance to get ahead. Their messages were much more impactful and as a result, many businesses weathered the storm.
Staying focused amidst uncertainty
Whatever the next few years have in store for us, we can use this as an opportunity to get ahead. It may not feel like it right now, but this is your chance to really examine your offering and elevate your brand above the market at large. This is the time to find your edge.
How can you tighten up your offering?
If you’re in danger of being forgettable, take a good look at your work. What gives you the edge? What do you do better than anyone else? What will get people talking about you?
What makes your business remarkable?
How can you refine your offering to make your business irresistible to your dream clients? What will compel people to pick you over anyone else?
What makes you credible?
What are you doing right now that plays to your strengths? What do you do that you know you do better than anyone else? And what projects are you taking on that are undermining your credibility and eroding your confidence?
Elevate and refine
Find yourself a unique spot in the market and make your business an absolute no-brainer for the right clients. You won’t appeal to everyone and that can be scary. But you will create a sustainable. profitable and enjoyable business instead of lurching from one project to the next.
Invest in your inspiration
Staying inspired, focused and confident is easier said than done, but it’s essential. So switch off the news (I never watch it!), unfollow anyone who makes you feel inadequate and focus on nurturing your unique sense of creativity. Give yourself space to think and see anything that feeds your inspiration as a business investment. It will pay dividends.
To stand out you need focus. You also need to share what you’re up to with a passion. Share the why behind what you do. Tell stories. Talk about the impact your work had on your clients. And leave plenty to the imagination. You want prospective clients to be thinking ‘I wonder what they’d do for me’. That means adding a certain creative flair and unpredictability into what you do too.
There is so much more I could talk about on this topic, but I’m already feeling like a bit of a veteran! So instead, I’d love to hear from you. How are you feeling about business this quarter and how do you think the next year or two will pan out for you? Do you feel confident about where you’re headed or in need of some support and perspective? Is there anything you’d like from me that would help you right now? I’d love to hear your thoughts.