’ve had the opportunity of working with some pretty powerful women over the years and this month, I am sharing how they grew their businesses through storytelling. I learned so much as I sat down with some of my favorite female business owners and I wanted to share some of the main takeaways. They shared with me that when you’re able to acknowledge your earned experience and accept it as your genius/superpower and then share it with the world, you will not only be able to strengthen your relationships with clients and prospects, but you’ll be able to amplify your brand presence as well.
Stepping into your power can be intimidating.
When I first started out, I found it difficult to distinguish between myself and my business when marketing my company. I struggled with my personal fears of judgement and rejection and it took me some time to understand the difference between bragging about myself and communicating the true value of my service offerings. That fear of rejection was real.
We all have our hurdles to overcome. When I started my company, I was recovering from an extremely toxic relationship with my former employer. My confidence was almost nonexistent because my mind was tangled up in the gaslighting culture in which I had spent the past six years. It is no wonder I struggled conveying my value. I didn’t think I was good enough. I did what many of us do as business owners, I let my own fears get in the way of accomplishing my goals.
Susan Lear, CEO of Balance EAP, said it took her years to feel like she owned her business story. Susan took over the company in 2009 upon the passing of her late husband John who had started the company.
“John was a counselor and very good at what he did – you bring to your company what it is you’re good at. Now I’m a teacher, I’m not a counselor, so I can’t bring that. But what do I bring? I bring the thinking, the problem solving, the “how could this work”. I think that if you don’t capitalize on what it is you do well, then you’re not going to have any lasting energy for it, or interest in it.” Susan Lear, CEO of Balance EAP
Susan’s story of perseverance and fortitude was an inspiring example of stepping into your power as a business owner despite not having all the answers.
When you own your own business, it’s essential to shift a few mindsets as you grow from an individual into a business owner. You have to move from an individual mentality to a company mentality when describing yourself and your business. This shift not only alleviates some of the fear of judgement, but it allows you to communicate your value through your successes – a total power move.
When it comes to creating effective messaging for your audience, you’ll also need to make a shift from assuming what your audience wants to hear, to listening to your audience and allowing them to guide the direction of your messaging. Utilize data to get inside the head of your audience and understand their perspective. Your marketing is not about you, it is about offering a solution to your customers to help them on their journey. When I sat down with Rehgan Avon from Ikonos Analytics, she talked about deriving power from data and utilizing that power to form deep relationships in order to understand what message will resonate.
“We have done a ton of feedback cycles with experts in the industry. We’re honing in on very specific personas to find out what our audience cares about, what their challenges are, who are their allies, and who they make partnerships with. We’re diving very deep into who our target persona is and what kind of messaging is going to resonate with them. And how do they like to consume information.” Rehgan Avon, Co-Founder and Principle of Ikonos Analytics
Rehgan pointed out that understanding the various personas of your audience eliminates assumptions we often make as business owners, and gives us the power to move forward with our messaging proudly and confidently. Rehgan’s background work ensures her message will resonate, amplifying her power as a business owner, and creating opportunities for connection.
Great stories take time. It’s a constant state of revision.
Just as in life, change is the only constant we can count on, and sharing the story of your business is no different. Marketing in this day and age, means constantly revising your messaging and in continuing my conversation with Rehgan, we talked about how frequently things can change and how to incorporate a continuous cycle of revisions to ensure messaging stays powerful and doesn’t run stagnant, or worse, offends your audience.
“Storytelling is fundamental in sales calls. We’ve tweaked our message every week. There’s very specific wording, like even the word ‘vision’ versus ‘strategy’. Those two things mean different things to specific people. And so we’re finding out what words are resonating, and what connotation those words have with our personas” Rehgan Avon, Co-Founder and Principle of Ikonos Analytics
While listening to your audience and staying on top of the relevance of your message is a definite must, it can also take a while to find the right words to explain the value of your services, which is what Karissa, CEO of Virtual Works, and I talked about as she described the challenges that she faced as a business owner when creating her story.
“Internally we know what we do. Communicating it in a succinct, clear, and concise way can be hard. My background is in supporting people; it’s not in public speaking. Having the right words makes all the difference.” Karissa Hanson, CEO of Virtual Works
It can take a while to feel comfortable introducing yourself to prospective customers and detailing the value of your services. Practice is the key to feeling comfortable and confident. With the right message, crafted from data-driven feedback and specific language aimed to resonate with your target audience, you can boost your confidence and enter every conversation feeling relaxed and ready to offer solutions.
Forget the sale, focus on the relationship.
One common thread from all of the women I spoke with, is my insanely wonderful relationship with each one of them. They are my friends and unique contributors to my story, often making work feel much less like work and more like friendship. Once you feel confident in your story, it’s time to forget it. You no longer need a script because it is a part of you and you can focus instead on creating lasting relationships. Every business owner I interviewed for this blog suggested to forget about the sale when on a sales call. They all understand the importance of being present, focusing on the relationship that you are creating, and being a solutions-based partner. When you do that, the stories and conversation flow naturally.
Each of the women I spoke with has benefitted from walking in to a business opportunity with confidence, an open mind and a powerful story. And for those who are nervous about talking to someone for the first time, Susan Lear had the best outlook on how to rethink the prospect of speaking with someone new.
That’s a Wrap.
Each of us face hurdles on our journey towards stepping into our power as business owners. Whether it is figuring out how to step away from limiting mindsets or trouble understanding how to move forward into a better headspace for your business, when you discover what makes you powerful, you become unstoppable. You’ll be able to take the necessary steps toward the relationships you want to build and the business goals you want to achieve.
When you share your story of power in an honest, vulnerable way, beautiful things will come from it. If you’re struggling to find the right words to say, I can help, it’s what I do. And to celebrate you, the woman, during International Women’s Month, I want to offer a special price on one of my powerful tools, the Message Map. This service will help you truly share your messages in a memorable, repeatable, and clear way.
Remember to celebrate you, today and everyday.
Your story is powerful.