I often get questions about what it really means to be ‘authentic’ in your business. We are who we are, we do what we do, isn’t that authentic enough?
Being business authentic is more about connecting with people, customers and clients who value what you have to offer because of the way you offer it. Let me explain.
In a world where anything and everything can be found with ‘just a click,’ we are all still wired whether we realize it or not, to respond to offers, and individuals whom we like. That measure of ‘like’ comes by way of their authentic delivery. For most of us, getting a sense of someone’s sincerity or their pitch positioning is initially an easy read. Within seconds, we respond. It might be an inviting welcome with warm eyes and a genuine smile that draws us in, or maybe a funny, upbeat and matter of fact approach that makes us comfortable to engage. And, we’ve all given the cold shoulder whether in person or virtually to that individual or business that just didn’t seem to align with what we define as our wants and needs. The underlining reason however goes a bit deeper. The thing that prompts our response to buy, to invest or to engage comes from our genuine desire to connect.
When we sense something is being said, offered or done without a sincere desire to help us, to serve, connect, educate or assist, we take charge and walk away. No connection, no response. It’s a done deal.
As a business in need of people’s response, or in other words, in need of sales - connection is essential. It’s what will attract and retain customers. It’s what will build your business and help you succeed. Closing the gap on that connection comes by way of being authentic in your business. Not just a friendly welcome or a thank you for your purchase reply. Business authenticity requires going deeper, and that’s the piece that business owners seem to misunderstand and in many cases resist. They believe in a personal and business divide, and their business pays the price. They become stagnant and can’t seem to move the needle in their business. Even worse, they begin to decline and loose customers who are making the choice to go elsewhere. It happens all the time.
It’s not that hard, I promise. It does however require a shift in thinking, and the willingness to close the gap on that business and personal divide.
Here’s how you can get started and begin to experience the power and profits of business authenticity.
You are uniquely you. Sure, you might have a business that offers products and services similar if not the same as many others. It’s the way you ‘do’ business however, that sets you apart from all the others.
Your values and beliefs, your personal experiences, your education and many other contributing factors that make you, you are what contribute to the authenticity of your business - IF you let them.
Here’s a personal example to help illustrate the importance of business authenticity. When I first launched my business, I followed a set of standards or guidelines just like I’m offering you here. I was working hard to establish myself as a respected and valued business and marketing professional. It was a good start and the guidelines were incredibly helpful, but somewhere along the way I got lost. My following soon became modeling and copying those I wanted to be like, and before long I was trying to operate my business exactly like they did. My words, my actions, my marketing and my messaging were all being developed as a mirror image of someone other than myself. I lost myself as I followed, and my business fell flat. I wasn’t connecting to my audience because I wasn’t being authentic. Potential business clients could sense it and honestly, so could I. Thankfully with my intuitive sense that things were off track, along with the need and desire to grow my business, I realized I had to ‘do’ business my way. I could take what I learned, apply it and shape it into a business that was congruent with my beliefs, values, expertise and voice. A business that was authentic and truly reflective of me. The best part of all is the ease in which I was able to authentically step into my way of doing business. Of course it’s easy! It’s just a matter of channeling all that you know and believe into how you ‘do’ business. It’s allowing yourself to boldly be you! The reward was greater connection and respect from those I wanted to connect with because they could clearly see and sense my sincerity to serve them. As a result my business grew and my confidence did too.
It’s another part of the process of building an authentic business that triggers resistance in business owners as soon as it’s mentioned, but again, it’s simply misunderstood. Business transparency from a marketing perspective doesn’t carry the same meaning as one might think. It’s not about showing all the behind the scenes business details such as the calculation of profit margins or what you pay employees. Business transparency as it relates to authenticity is about accessibility and ultimately vulnerability. The two combined, accessibility and vulnerability create a powerful client connection that cannot be denied. It’s really is a beautiful thing.
“Connection is why we are here. It gives purpose and meaning to our lives. We must allow ourselves to be really seen and that means we must be vulnerable.”
- Brene Brown
I love the way Brene Brown, brings this concept to life. She describes vulnerability as the birthplace of joy, creativity and love. Brene said, “Connection is why we are here. It gives purpose and meaning to our lives. We must allow ourselves to be really seen and that means we must be vulnerable.” It allows us to be “seen” and still be assured of our worth regardless of what our truths are. Vulnerability allows us to be able to make deep, worthwhile connections with other people and that’s hard to break once established.
Business transparency in this context again allows you to be you. It eliminates the hype business owner’s often feel they have to create to attract customers and clients, and instead allows you to communicate with heart. Here’s one of my favorite examples. One of my clients was experiencing a surge of ‘like businesses’ in the community she served. The competition was heating up and she was worried about the impact it would have on her business as they geared up for the busy season. Initially she focused on shopping the competition to get a sense of what they were doing, their prices and their product mix so she could adjust her business accordingly. As we began to assist with her marketing outreach, it was a conversation about ‘why’ her business existed, what was unique about the way she operated her business, the passion and purpose behind her business that she agreed to lean into and be transparent in her marketing outreach. Guess what happened? More people were drawn to her business. Her business grew with the attraction of new customers as well as a substantial increase in repeat purchases from loyal customers. Her customers connected with her story and the way she did business rather than just focusing on the price of products. Transparency transformed her business and allowed her to stand out from the crowd, even as more and more businesses offering similar products continued to come into her community.
The tie the binds authenticity in your business is never any further than tapping into your truth - the reason ‘why’ you do what you do because of ‘who’ you are. It’s what will close the gap on the personal and professional divide that as I mentioned earlier, doesn’t allow authenticity to shine through. With a willingness to allow the two to meld together, your personal and professional truth will add immense power and profits to your business. You will attract customers and clients who value what you have to offer because of how you uniquely offer it. Plus, it’s so much easier to just be you, isn’t it?
Your truth – being, doing, saying, offering, performing and providing products and services as you are, is the absolute best business plan.
Consider it your personal business compass that will never steer you in the wrong direction; the place where your truth connects you to your authenticity and is reflected in the transparency of our business. Boldly be you and you will succeed. That’s the truth!
Putting the power of authenticity to work for you in your business isn’t all that difficult once you’ve made the mind shift to do so. The challenge however is staying the course. In today’s fast paced world with lots of marketing ‘noise’ and distractions all around, maintaining authenticity in your business can be tricky. The pressures of doing, saying, using and implementing the latest and greatest marketing strategies often take us off track. It happened to me when I started using video as part of my marketing mix, and initially I didn’t even realize it. It was only after my husband watched the videos I was so proud of and said, “that really doesn’t even look or sound like you” that I realized how off track I was. Dang it! It was another one of those instances where modeling others took the authenticity out of my message. But, course correcting came quickly as I realigned with my business truth - the reason ‘why’ I do what I do. Remember, it’s your business authenticity compass that will always keep you grounded.
Because I believe so deeply the power of ‘YOU’ in your business can guarantee your success, I want to be sure you have what you need to put the power of authenticity to work for you. My hope is that the three elements I’ve shared above will help you understand and fully embrace the importance of being authentic in your business. But, it’s the day to day that requires constant focus to ensure authenticity always shines through. I’ve created this checklist for you to help you stay on track. It may look simple, but I know for certain how pivotal these daily authenticity actions can be when incorporated into your business. Small actions can have a major impact on your business, and with this checklist in hand you can make it happen. CLICK HERE to get started.