I sat down to write you this blog back in June and...it's the last week in October. So first, hi! I hope you and your business are thriving.
Today, I want to share a little bit about why I shut it all down and, more importantly, the HUGE business shift I had because of it. This is especially relevant for any of my super busy CEOs and solopreneurs who, despite all your hustling, aren't seeing the traction you're looking for.
But first, some backstory:
When I started my business as a Brand + Marketing Strategist for entrepreneurs back in June 2015...
I was a business owner with an agenda.
Like you, I saw a problem in my industry (a platform-obsessed approach to PR and marketing that was not-even-a-little-bit working) and launched my business as a solution (to arm CEOs and solopreneurs with psychology-based PR and marketing strategies based on what we know drives, inspires and connects humans).
Having identified the problem and created my own version of a solution, I turned all my energy into doing what I do best: marketing and promoting the shit out of it.
I led workshops, spoke at conferences, wrote regularly for The Muse. I spent hours on the phone with potential partners.
But by June, a full year later, I was exhausted and sick of my own voice. And, even more alarmingly, the narrative I was shouting from the rooftops wasn't making the impact I'd hoped.
So I decided to get quiet.
Less talking, more listening.
I dove back into my client work and, with no distractions, realized something interesting: I was hearing their frustrations and struggles in a way I hadn't before.
When I attended events, I sat in the back and quietly listened, and found that conversation threads I hadn't been paying attention to were suddenly popping up everywhere.
When I read industry articles—which I was now reading slowly, and to the end—I started to see patterns emerge that I'd never connected before.
With some hindsight, I'd realized that in the process of building and promoting my business, I'd switched out my antenna for a microphone.
But once I got that antenna back up:
The people I wanted to help became so obvious. The next steps for my business became so obvious. The specific ways I could help those people and the platforms I needed to use to reach them were no longer a question because THEY WERE TELLING ME.
And, of course, my business took off (like 5-figure clients took off) because of it.
Which brings me to you.
Here's what I was reminded of this summer and want to remind you now:
your microphone isn't as effective without your antenna.
You can book speaking gigs, write guest blogs, get interviewed by all the trades—but if you don't have your finger on the pulse of what's truly driving your community; if you're not hearing them—it's not going to lead to the sales or sign-ups you're looking for.
If you're feeling like you need a little help getting that antenna back up, here's what helped me:
- Write down everything you're hearing. From clients, potential clients, in the news, at events. This sounds so obvious, but it wasn't until I started a specific "What People Are Telling Me" Google Doc that I started to truly absorb what I was hearing and see how I was (and, in some place, was not!) addressing the needs and concerns people were telling me.
- Choose the quiet. The listening and hearing is the most important first step, but it's giving yourself space to let all those insights marinate that's where the magic happens. People often talk about the difficulty of making space for quiet time. My experience was that it was actively choosing quiet time that was hard—once I did, I knew exactly where and how to find it.
- Be open to being "wrong." Yes, we stop listening when we get busy and distracted. But, #realtalk, we also stop listening because we're afraid we're going to hear something that goes totally against our narrative (which = total business failure in our heads). When I truly started listening—with no agenda or judgement—I discovered I was spot on in many ways, and definitely wrong in others. But understanding where I was missing the mark and rerouting those strategies has only helped me better connect with my community and bring in more business.