For a long time, I let fear stop me from starting my own business.
I often would lament this to my husband. I'd say that I knew I could be great at owning my own biz. And thought I knew what services I wanted to offer. (More on that in a minute.)
But, for a long time, I was stuck on the fact that I was too introverted to sell myself. So I ultimately thought I wasn't cut out to do it.
The problem was: I didn't think I could ever be brave enough to tell a company - "Here's why I know I'm the right person for you."
I finally decided to make the leap to full-time self-employment when I realized that fear of selling myself was rooted in two very specific things:
Fear of knowing exacting *HOW* to 'pitch' myself
Fear of a draining amount of interpersonal time
Here's what I learned:
Offering your services is a skill. And you can refine that skill over time, as you learn to define yourself better as a biz owner and service provider.
In other words, the more I understand what I do (and what I want to do), the easier it is for me to tell clients how I can serve them.
For me, that fear eventually took care of itself. (And what I offer now looks a bit differently from what I thought I'd offer when I first started out in business!)
As for the interpersonal time:
The beauty of being your own boss is that...you're the boss! And that includes being in charge of the business structure.
It's completely natural for you to design your business around your schedule, your preferences, and your personality.
In fact, it will actually increase your chances of success.
Here's the deal: I'm totally drained at the notion of too much interpersonal time. (AKA: Netflix and pajamas = all the way.) So as I've shaped my business around what I need, I'm able to work smarter and enjoy an even deeper level of success.
So, with that in mind, here are a few things I do in my business to ensure that I'm honoring my introverted-ness:
1. HOW TO SCHEDULE SMARTER:
I limit the amount of meetings I schedule each day. The number could change depending on the type and length of the meetings. But for a typical weekly check in with clients, or a discovery call with a new client, that number is between 2-3 for me.
Also, I leave a time pad in between meetings. That gives me enough time to jot my thoughts before I move on & forget. (And, #reallife --> refill my water glass before the next call!)
Why it's helpful: I'm able to show up fully for my clients when I'm not arriving to the meeting feeling drained from 4 back-to-back calls before that.
2. HOW TO CHOOSE CLIENTS:
For me, choosing the right clients for me has played a big part in my happiness level. I love working with folks who are happy to try new things, are really committed to growing their businesses, and are really communicative. When I work with folks like that, I'm often left feeling energized - not drained.
Why it's helpful: My clients, and the work I do with them them, are a perfect blend for me. Even when trying new things, I experience of an overall sense of capability & control. A feeling like "Together, I know we can do this."
3. HOW TO USE YOUR WEBSITE:
I use my website to my advantage as much as possible. I like to tell potential clients everything they'll need to know. And to collect as much info in the beginning as possible - so I have everything I need before we chat.
Why it's helpful: In my experience, this helps the right people know when they've found me. I accomplish this by, among other things, having specific questions on my hire form and offering more info on my FAQ page. (A lot of the tricks here I learned in the eCourse Stress Less & Impress.)
4. HOW TO NETWORK ONLINE:
The thought of going to live business networking events in my community is a bit intimidating for me. I've managed to book myself solid through two methods: referrals from current clients and Facebook groups. These groups are great for a sense of community & for having a place to ask questions. But often these folks will post a need that I can fill. I keep my eyes peeled in the groups for posts like that and then send an email over.
Why it's helpful: There are a ton of Facebook groups for entrepreneurs, so it would be easy to find a group where you feel like you fit. (If you need a place to start, check out 30 Days of Hustle, Freedom to Freelance Project Community, & Stylish & Smart Insiders.) And I get a ton of business this way without having to go downtown to a big, intimidating event.
5. HOW TO FIND (VIRTUAL) ACCOUNTABILITY:
Although still relatively new, a lot of communities are seeing coworking spaces spring up. (I'm in Buffalo and we have one here: CoworkBuffalo.) The basic premise here, if you're unfamiliar, is that you pay a fee to use the office space. A lot of folks say this helps them with accountability; a skill that can sometimes be difficult to master when you're working alone.
Even though I see the incredible value, I experience some intimidation when I think about a places like this. (Plus, I hate the idea of wearing more than pajamas most days. Ha!) So I do virtual coworking with some friends of mine. We have a Google Hangouts link that is also active and people drop in an out whenever they're working. We work with our mics muted & unmute to check in at the top of the hour.
Why it's helpful: I have a group of people on the other side of the screen who know what I said I was going to accomplish that hour. It's a massive amount of positive peer pressure. (If an ongoing accountability session like this one isn't for you, another idea would be starting an 'accountability thread' in an entrepreneurs Facebook group.)
If you have any other ideas for how you shape your business around your personality, I'd love to hear! Leave me a note below.