Last week I met with my fellow SocialPreneurs in Capitol Hill. This group of powerhouse women meets every other week to discuss the challenges, celebrations and stumbles of creating and managing a business from scratch. From established tech developers to the initial start up phase, our group welcomes all stages in business with only three rules. 1) Your Business Must Be Your Own 2) Show Up to Share, Support and Suggest (Not Sell) 3) Keep It Real
In the last five minutes of our discussion we hit a nerve - CREDIBILITY. Where does it come from? When do you know you've reached it? How can you get there if you're in uncharted territories.
I struggled with this big time during my first year in business. I stressed over whether people would take me seriously as a 30-something coach. I tiptoed around pricing and packages worried that people wouldn't pay for what I offered. I questioned the content I put out. Would anyone care or listen?
Thankfully, I challenged the little Gremlin inside that wanted to keep me in the land of self doubt. I had something to say and if only one person read it, that was one more than if I hadn't. After being in business full time for 15 months I can now say I feel validated and (in)credible about my credibility as a coach.
So, what did I do to get there and when did I feel the change?
1) Create Content Every Day - Write as much as you can. Record videos or conversations (with people's permission). Ask for help in editing if you aren't comfortable. Your voice and perspective is uniquely yours. Whatever you love to do in your business, highlight it and share it. This is a big reason why I'm doing the 30 Day Blog Post Challenge. It keeps me accountable and disciplined to create. Start by making a list of topics that impact your business. Write a couple of short blogs or dive in with research. Just keep at it every day.
2) Reach Out to Industry Groups or Get a Mentor - This is critical for new business owners. Most industries will have meet up groups or if you can't find a group with your business type you can create a group or network with other business owners. You need a safe place to ask the questions that can hold you back. If you prefer one-on-one, seek out a mentor. If you prefer the interaction of a group, go with the meet ups. The single worst thing you can do as a business owner is isolate yourself. Ask for the help and offer support in return.
3) Go Back to School - Whether it's self study or a class, stay on top of current technology, trends and techniques for your industry and beyond. This could be certificates, certification, or watching YouTube tutorials. You could even blog about all the stuff you learned! If you're considering a Masters or PhD, think about the potential time and financials cost to the estimated gains. (This is a whole other blog post)
So back to my original question, when did I feel credible. Honestly, 6 weeks ago when I faced the scary thought that I my service offerings weren't in line with my value as a coach. The SocialPreneur group supported the discussion and within 15-minutes I had a clear picture. I am now being contacted by people outside of my immediate network and can confidently speak about my business to anyone I meet.
What I can say is credibility isn't about years spent or specific experiences. You'll know what you need in order to feel secure in your footing. The key is working towards those securing agents in everything you do. Don't give up. Don't look back. Don't question your progress. You've got this!