It’s the evening before I leave for a short trip to my home country Belgium. I will be visiting family and teach a group of new retailers for Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint, together with Old Red Barn, the European distributor for Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint, Fusion Mineral Paint and Cling On brushes. I have done this many times before, I have been on flights on my own before, I have been in front of a group before, I’m not even traveling to a ‘foreign’ country, but I’m a bit nervous. I just love my comfort zone … said the girl who wanted to start all over in another country. I also love to explore things out of my comfort zone! I’m very complex you could say haha.
Breaking out of my comfort zone, putting myself and my business out there didn’t come naturally. It had to grow on me. Are you also one of the more ‘introvert’ entrepreneurs? Like .. you really know that you have to get out there, talk about what you make or what you do, yet in the end you choose to hide yourself behind some plants in your window? It feels safe behind those plants, doesn’t it? But it can also get a bit boring, not a lot of new opportunities or exciting things happen on a window sill :-).
I would love to share some of my own experiences and tips. Maybe they help to put yourself and your business a little more out there.
Be intentional with your energy.
Maybe you’re like me, highly-sensitive, the environment taking a lot of energy from you on a daily basis? When you have to be so careful with your energy, it’s normal that you like that place behind your plants to recover. When you feel revived again, ready to work on your business, it’s best to be intentional with your energy. Marketing, social media, networking, …where exactly will you focus your attention? How will it help you in your business? Is your choice aligned with your values and purpose?
An example: Facebook live videos. It seems to be the new thing on social media if you want to grow your business, but maybe it’s not for everybody, or maybe not the right timing for everybody. I could jump right into it, but I know that it would take a lot of my energy. Before I act, I have to consider if it’s really exactly what I need right now, in this stage of my business, otherwise it’s a waste of my already vulnerable energy levels.
Networking events: make meaningful connections.
Conferences, events, large and busy networking opportunities with a lot of people. As you may have noticed by now, I’m not the personality that goes to every event, immediately starts chatting with everyone over a glass of champagne, exchanging business cards and coming home all energized. Initially, being with a lot of people was taking energy instead of giving energy. This was until I realised that, even in business, it wasn’t about quantity but quality. It doesn’t matter that you don’t get to know a lot of people on such an event, just make meaningful connections.
You don’t have to do it alone.
Sometimes you just need a helping hand, a friend, a fellow creative business owner, … In my case for example: starting a new business in a new country can feel quite lonely. I had a lot of marketing ideas, but the insecurity of being the foreigner kept me from taking action. But slowly, without even noticing it, I was making a new (meaningful!) connection with another business owner. We’re bouncing off ideas now, even working on some things together and suddenly it doesn’t feel that lonely anymore.
Taking tiny steps to put yourself out there is perfectly fine! I remember the first local handmade market I attended in Belgium. I was new to the whole ‘I have my own business’ and totally new to markets. I was very nervous and absolutely wanted to have someone with me there. I’m going to a Swedish market soon, on my own, because I took a lot of tiny steps to get over the mountain. You can try to take a helicopter to the top, but maybe that isn’t the same. Sometimes you need all the steps because things have to grow on you. It’s all about the process.
I found this quote and I can’t add anything more to it. It says it all.
Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be,
because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose,
and then where are you?
If you like this topic, check out my post about lagom marketing. I’m signing off now, getting some necessary rest before my trip.