If you asked me to describe myself, I'd start with Luke's mom and follow it up quickly with Auntie.
Between my siblings and cousins, I have a bunch of little people in my life. And they just make everything better, don’t they?
Holidays are way more fun, let’s face it. And a simple walk can turn into apologizing to people walking around you on the sidewalk because your kid found about 100 ants attacking a leftover sandwich. (I speak from experience.)
Well, my brother’s 4-year old boy is one of those great, little kids. He’s great with his little sister and my son, and he’s always coming out with those super funny one-liners.
(For my birthday last summer, my mother was writing out my birthday card. He asked her if she would add a message from him to me. She got her pen ready, and he said: "Auntie loves me. Presents are coming. Love, AJ." )
Two days a week, my parents watch my niece, my nephew, and my son while I work in their den. (It’s really been a huge part of why I’ve been able to grow my business over the last few years.) Because of our childcare situation, we’ve spent a lot of time together and I know that’s what made us close.
When AJ gets home from PreK, he’ll come sit on the couch in the den and talk to me while I work. We have some great conversations in there, plus sometimes he’ll just grab a calculator and start pounding numbers out and yelling about websites. Which is obviously #amazing.
So I thought I’d jot down those lessons in a blog post. Partly because I don’t want to forget how cute he was as a little guy, and partly so that you can remember...remember that some of the simplest things in life & biz are the most important.
1) You know your audience better than anyone
Two Christmases ago, my sister-in-law started taking AJ to Dollar Tree to pick out his own gifts for his family. Last year, he chose a pink selfie stick for me. His mom was skeptical, but he confidently said "Auntie needs this." And he was right...but I felt too stupid buying one. Problem solved!
Then it happened again this year. He handed me my box, his mom laughed and said, "He said you needed this." And I literally screamed when I opened it. There was a little blue nutcracker inside. I had already bought it for myself. The. exact. same. one. But when I regretted not having a pair, I went back to the store and he was gone. And here was AJ - giving me the other one!
Now, obviously my nephew is a genius and you can’t expect to read your clients’ minds like that. ;)
But you can create the illusion of reading their minds. You can ask them about their problems and concerns. You can “listen” on social media. You can pay close attention to the notes your clients send you. Then you can use that language in your sales pages. Take those questions and create packages and paid materials that offer the solution. Even if it seems like it’s way too simple of an offering, and even if a guru somewhere says it’s a bad idea. You know your clients better than anyone.
2) When in doubt, go for simple
The beautiful thing about kids is that they can make things short and sweet. One day, AJ was a great help to my mom when she was watching the little kids. I told him if he helped all day, I’d give him a dollar. Well, all day that little guy ran here and there, helping with bottles and diapers.
A few hours later, I gave him the money and I asked him, “why did Auntie give you that dollar?" And he said “Because I watch babies." Ha! Short and sweet.
Sometimes we make things too complicated. (Me included, for sure.) This can show up in things like: struggling to finish your eCourse because you’re squeezing every single piece of knowledge you have into it. (It's OK to make Part 1 & Part 2.)
Another common place this shows up for solopreneurs is in job titles.
I get it. Sometimes traditional job titles just don’t feel right for what you do.
But rather than achieving clarity, being the Chief-Happiness-Strategist-Goddess-Officer-Expert-Of-All-The-Things can cause the opposite result. You can confuse people.
Remember that scene in Gilmore girls where Lorelai is trying to stop the cop from towing Luke’s boat? She’s panicking and says “I’m sorry that it’s parked out here like this, but it’s supposed to be auctioned off for charity for the National Boating for Peace and low blood sugar organization for tiny children...” And the cop goes “Just move it on street-cleaning days."
Yeah, it’s like that. Your potential clients just want to know what you do. Give yourself permission to not overcomplicate things.
3) Keep the wonder
I usually lock the door when I start a client call, because...the kids. But sometimes if my nephew is already in the office with me, I let him stay. And when I start the call on Skype or Zoom, he comes over to see who I’m talking to. And he’s always asking who it is, where they live, and he gives them a big hello. He thinks it’s super cool, and either me or the client on the other end will sort of think out loud and say, "Well, yeah...it is."
Listen: deliverables, late nights, and managing client expectations is HARD. Filing taxes every few months. Worrying about when your Macbook is taking it’s final breath. Figuring out how to work on AND in your biz...small business is exhausting. It is.
But. Keep. The. Wonder.
You’re living at this perfect time in history where you can serve clients around the world, and sell tech skills that didn’t exist when your parents were kids. That’s incredible. Last year, I worked with clients in 20 US States and 5 countries. From my house!
Even on tough days, gratitude can change my attitude right around.