4 Reasons Small Business Owners Need to Own Their Credibility

4 Reasons Small Business Owners Need to Own Their Credibility

Today we are talking about self-promotion. Has the thought of self-promotion ever stopped you dead in your tracks? Or maybe you’ve had that tired refrain of “Who am I to [insert the thing you are actually an expert at]”? The reason why we’re talking about this is we’re about to head into some podcast episodes around creating your offers, the services that you sell as a service provider, and the frustrations you might have with selling them, why they may not be selling, some beliefs that you have around selling your services, or enrolling people in your services or enrolling people in your offers.

First of all, let’s talk about an offer for a second or a service. 

As a service-based business owner, there are lots of ways that you can package your offers. That’s what we’re talking about when I say services or programs or offers, it’s how you package your offers. Depending on what type of business you are, what kind of service provider you are, that can vary. 

If you are a service provider who is selling maybe more business to business, like when I sell business to business, I sell project-based offers, services, I sell my services by day rate, I sell retainer packages. When I’m selling more to B2C, which is those micro business owners like you. I have programs. 

I have the Bold Profit Academy and the Bold Profit Academy Plus. Those are programs—maybe you are a done-for-you service provider, we did an episode here with Stacey Harris on having a productized service, there are lots of different ways that you can package up your expertise to solve a problem. That is basically what I’m talking about when I talk about an offer, a service, or a program. It’s up to you depending on how you like to work what that’s going to look like for you.

There are a number of different reasons why you might be struggling to enroll people in a program, to sell a service, to convert leads to a sale, into an offer; whatever that language is that you want to use. I want to talk about something before we even get into this.

There’s a huge amount of avoidance among people who are responsible for making sales, they are remarkably sales avoidant. 

They avoid the activity that goes into selling because it’s uncomfortable because they are afraid of rejection because it’s easier to default—especially if you’re a business owner—to the thing you’re really good at, which is delivering your service.

I see this a lot among business owners where it’s more comfortable to go and coach, it’s more comfortable to go and be a therapist, it’s more comfortable to go and be the tutor, it’s more comfortable to go and work with the companies that you work with than to actually do the things that require you to make the sale. A couple of things about me is that listen, I’m sure that if I called this something else—get clients, find clients, enroll clients—that would be easier for people to hear because just me saying the word selling and sales makes people want to shut down, cringe, and feel super confronted.

However, what I’ve learned from my journey is that I have to label things what they are. 

I can’t try and bypass how I’m feeling by calling it something else. One of the places where I did this a lot for me was around abundance when I meant financially abundant. I would notice that I would talk about money in terms of abundance and I would have an abundance of lots of things in my life, but I wouldn’t have the money in the bank that I wanted. I realized I was not being clear in what I wanted. 

I wasn’t being clear on what I wanted because I was afraid, felt ashamed, embarrassed, or something by the fact that I wanted more money in the bank, that I wanted financial abundance. That’s really why, when I’m talking on this podcast, I’m talking about money, I’m talking about profit, I’m talking about revenue, I’m talking about selling; sales almost like to desensitize and to give permission that it’s okay to say these words and to talk about these things. Because our ability, as service providers, as experts, to actually sell our services is critical for us. We don’t get to do the work we love if we don’t sell them. The money doesn’t make it to the bank if we don’t sell those services. We don’t get to build that personal wealth that we’re after if we don’t do these things.

A part of this is yes, labeling, becoming okay with saying these words, owning the fact that this is a part of your journey as a business owner, and then being bold enough to take the actions that are going to get you the result that you want because you are all experts. I want you to think about what would you get paid if you were working in somebody else’s business? What is the salary that is commensurate with your expertise, years of experience, and the effort that you bring to your work? I understand that many of you have decided to start businesses, however you want to look at it, you’re a freelancer, you start a business, you’re a service provider. I don’t think anybody really thinks this through when they actually get started. I think what they want is to be able to do their best work on their own terms and make income independent of a boss in a business, another business. You want to independently make your own income.

There’s a lot that goes into that and it could be really overwhelming, confusing, and frustrating to figure out what are those levers that you need to pull. That’s really what I’m here to help you figure out, here to help you put together, and what I’m here to help you work through in the Bold Profit Academy. Now we’re going into, starting in April, Q2, April, May, June is our offer creation cycle. In the offer creation cycle, we’re looking to solve the burnout problem that’s happening for service providers where they are over delivering and under charging. 

The outcome from going through this piece of quarterly curriculum is a couple of things; one, it’s about reducing that time that you’re spending delivering. When you are in a business, much like yours in a micro business, as a service provider, where you love to provide those services to your clients and your customers, we have to make it easy on two sides of the spectrum. We have to make it easy to deliver. We have to make it easy to sell. We have to try and find some harmony between the two activities that you need to be doing in your business; selling and serving, essentially.

If you’re going to be delivering something super complex, then you have to make it even easier to sell. If you’re going to be delivering something that is really not that complicated to deliver, then you’re probably going to be picking up more time on the sales side because it might be a little harder to sell. Not everything is created equal in ease of selling. For example, selling one-on-one services at a high ticket is actually a lot easier than selling a group program at a much lower ticket or even a low ticket offer. 

You’re going to be able to deliver easier maybe on a low ticket offer, but you’re going to pick up complexity on how you’re selling it, meaning you’re going to need a lot of traffic, you’re going to need more leads, you’re going to need to be able to convert that through copy in an email, on a website, or something like that and that’s going to take time and effort to tweak and dial in and to figure out exactly how to “optimize” that funnel, which is a lot more difficult than what the internet will lead you to believe.

We’re going to be going through this curriculum, helping you pull back on your delivery, focus on the results that your clients actually want and need, the easiest way to get that to them, and then increasing your price point on your program so that you can get out of this cycle of burnout around over delivering and under charging. 

The BOLDEST Offer Framework

It comes to the point that we are going to be talking about—in today’s episode, in the first step—I have a framework that I use called the BOLDEST offer framework. It stands for something. It’s an acronym. I do that a lot in my frameworks. B stands for Bold confidence. O stands for Own your credibility. Those two things go together. When you are looking at somebody online and you’re like, “How are they doing that? Why are they selling so much? How come they’re so successful?” It comes down to the B and the O. It comes down to your confidence and your ability to own your credibility. If you have ever thought that self-promotion is icky and it stopped you dead in your tracks, here’s point one.

Maybe you’ve had that refrain “Who am I to…?” We’re taught to be humble. Like my dad used to say to me, “Don’t get too big for your britches.” Society has made being seen and celebrated for excellence as something shameful, especially if you’re a woman, even more so if you’re a woman of color or really anyone who doesn’t fit a specific stereotype. 

You’ve seen the meme about how we should all have the confidence of a mediocre white guy. This is why: My 13-year-old has a gift with words and her teachers often use her writing as an example in their teaching. In the past, it’s always been anonymous but more recently, her teacher has been lovingly pushing her toward her own gifts. As my daughter receives these nudges to share more in class, she becomes more assertive in her obstinance. Watching a teenager navigate their resistance to being seen as an expert is the manifestation of my inner turmoil. Her body starts to contort when she’s talked about, her face turns 13 shades of red, and eventually the fists clench and she utters her terse refusals.

Since starting my business, it’s been an arduous journey of learning how to see myself as the authority that I am, to own my credibility and regulate my nervous system as I’m seen by others and compensated for my expertise. That’s why the B and the O are the part of my framework because I’ve been here. I’ve done this. I understand the connection and the energy that happens when you can approach your work with bold confidence and own your credibility. I want to share some of this story with you because for me, much of this work has been around leading with my actual credentials, my degree. 

As a person who barely got into a local college to graduating with a master’s degree, that has always been a sense of accomplishment for me. It was the first time that I understood that if I gave something my complete attention, I could move mountains. It wasn’t necessarily something that I bragged about but I was proud of it and I led with it. Until I entered the online business space when I suffered a number of experiences that would knock whatever confidence I had managed to cultivate right out of my being.

With my years of experience and knowledge, I fell prey to marketing messages that made me feel like I knew nothing, that I had to forget everything I knew about business and do it their way. 

No matter what I did, it would all be wrong until I joined whatever web-celeb’s-name-of-choice mastermind so I could finally belong. I hear that so much from women, “What do I need to do? Join Lewis Howes’s mastermind?” It’s not about Lewis, but “Join someone’s mastermind? Some web celebs mastermind so I can finally belong and my business will take off?” But that’s not actually true because there are hundreds and hundreds of people in those programs and they’re only highlighting a small percentage of them, they’re only highlighting the outliers and the people who are atypical to the program.

Free Facebook groups in 2014 were a real experience and there was a trend at the time to slam people for positioning themselves with actual credentials because that didn’t leave room for the people who were creating their credibility on the fly. I always say there’s nothing like having a pack of pissed off fake-it-till-you-make-it on your tail to erode your confidence. If you’re listening to this podcast, there’s a really good chance that you are a tried and true expert. You have been doing what you have been doing for a very long time. You might have a certification, you might have a degree, or you might just be qualified. You might have qualified yourself over years and years and years of practice, honing your skill, and doing the thing. My point is that you’re not one step ahead of somebody, you’re most likely well ahead of the people who you’re supporting, and you’re not trying to fake it till you can make it. You actually have these skills.

It took years before I was able to build up the courage to then talk about my degree again and to say that I am an expert in industrial organizational psychology because I felt so ashamed for being an expert. Being able to declare that with practice led me to be able to go beyond the degree and start speaking to my other experiences and to start speaking to how I work with my clients, and why I’m the best person to guide you on your small business journey with dead confidence. 

This is actually when I started to unpack my intellectual property. I actually started to believe that I knew things that were worthy and valuable to others—they are—and to improve my programs and to start to finally niche down and it gave me so much more traction. Really being able to claim your expertise and to be able to claim the results that you help people get and to hone in on them and take a stand for them with that dead confidence is a whole part of what it means to niche down, which people really do struggle with.

Then, of course, like things happen, I got knocked down again. I was hired as an expert last year and I mentioned my degree and they said, “Don’t talk about your degree. It sounds too businessy and stiff. People won’t understand it.” I’m embarrassed to admit that with all the years of experience I have, I took her advice to heart and stopped playing up my professional credentials in hopes that I wouldn’t be misunderstood. I didn’t want to be understood as businessy and stiff, and to be misunderstood around the things that I’m talking about. Because as humans, we have a persistent and pervasive fear of being misunderstood. 

We want to fit in, be liked. We don’t want to make others uncomfortable. However, this will not work when you’re running a business. In order to differentiate yourself, you have to do a deep dive into all the things that make you unique. For me, that’s my field of study. For you, it might be the time you spent in the Peace Corps, it might be some other part of your journey, but you have to be able to tell those stories, to unpack them, and to share them because that’s what’s going to be a part of what differentiates you from others. It’s a part of how you’ve come to know the things you know.

I want to give you four reasons that I think it’s imperative that you own your credibility, if you want to reap the rewards of being the expert you are. 

Here’s what I mean by reap the rewards: I’m talking about the monetary rewards. Experts get paid expertly. Experts get paid expert salaries. I’m watching this happen with my friends who work for larger companies. Right now with the great resignation, they’re getting offers that are beyond anything I’ve imagined that some of them would get. It’s very competitive in the labor market right now and they’re benefiting. But even beyond that, I was watching on Instagram somebody who’s in more of a career transition space asking for people’s pay data, their salary information. I’m watching that with very little experience, very little years of experience, and some certifications, a lot of them being in the tech area like some Google certifications. People are really making well into the six figures with three to five years of experience. If they had more experience than that, it was even more.

I know for a fact that most women business owners are not paying themselves six figures. That is the entire point of the Bold Profit Academy; is to get your revenue to a place and get you building the skills that help you find high quality leads, make your sales more consistent, and have consistent cash flow so that you can pay yourself a six figure salary. 

That’s what I mean when I say reap the rewards of being an expert. Here are the four reasons:

One, nobody’s going to do this for you. 

Sure, you have clients, they’ll rave about you, and your colleagues will hold you in high esteem. But the majority of time, they’re worried about themselves, they’re concerned with themselves. It’s not their job. It’s not their job to be your hype girl, guy, or person. It’s your responsibility to tell people why they should hire you and why you’re the best person for the job. Be comfortable communicating how you can bring value to any situation and you will never starve.

Two, one of the major frustrations of actual experts—and you’re going to know this—is the rise of the pseudo expert. 

Thanks to online platforms giving everyone and anyone a microphone. It’s always so confronting how confident pseudo experts appear and how the actual experts are quietly working through their imposter complexes. At some point, I had to stop griping about the 20-somethings who think they know all about running a company because they had a fashion vlog on YouTube when they were 15 years old and now have manufactured themselves 10 years of business experience, because it’s a distraction from my mission. What’s not a distraction is sharing my actual credentials every day.

The third one, the very, very first place I go when I’m looking to follow someone is their about page. 

Forget work with you. I’m not going to follow you unless I can see what your expertise is. Don’t come at me unless you know what you’re talking about, you have the goods. I want to see qualifications, degrees, certifications, years of experience, results you’ve gotten people. Not from an elitist perspective, that’s what I’m saying, like you can have qualifications without necessarily having certifications or a degree, but I want to see why you can help me with the problem I have. Because trust is at an all-time low right now, why should I even spend a fraction of a second of my precious time and attention listening to these people? Things have become so noisy, and frankly asinine, that we have to be protecting ourselves by checking people’s credentials like this. I don’t need a laundry list of letters after their name but I do need to understand how they can help me and why they’re qualified. Better yet, put this info in your social bio or in an Instagram highlight and build your authority right on the platform in addition to your web page so people don’t even have to click through.

Fourth, it lets prospective clients get to know you. When we commit to doing our most meaningful work in the world, it often encapsulates so much more than what we do. 

It speaks to our values, our beliefs, our motivations, and our own desires. Sharing our work, what makes us great at what we do, speaks to our larger why. Simon Sinek struck gold with this concept that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Your best fit clients don’t have to be the clones of you. To be honest, they don’t even have to like all of you, but they do need to believe what you believe or else it’s going to be hard to coalesce around a result. To be clear, I’m not telling you that you should go get more degrees or certificates, I’m not. I’m imploring you to leverage the ones you already have so high quality leads know exactly how to differentiate you from the pseudo experts. 

You should absolutely take the time to educate people on who you are and what you do; not from a place of having to prove yourself but because your best fit clients genuinely want to know this information.

I’m going to give you an example. 

Hey, I’m Tara Newman. I’m an expert in industrial and organizational psychology. Since I/O or just plain organizational psychology is the least known field in psychology, you probably have no idea what it is or how it can help you as a business owner. But some of your favorite people are experts in this field. I often get compared to Wendy Rhoades from Billions, the sidekick and advisor to Bobby Axelrod, if you’ve ever seen the show, I’m not quite sure how I feel about this one but I get the reference; advisory is the role I most often play when I’m coaching young CEOs of large companies. 

Next up, Adam Grant, author of Think Again, and everyone’s favorite Instagram thought leader. He is an organizational psychologist. Brené Brown has gratefully entered the arena of organizational development with her book Dare to Lead. Organizational psychology is the study of human behavior at work. It’s the cross-pollination of psychology, business, and engineering, which can basically be summed up as human-centered, evidence-based, get sh*t done.

I care about showing you how to earn a life-changing income that leads to a legacy of wealth, helping you learn skills and gain competency so you feel confident in your business, giving you structures and systems and process so your work requires less effort, illustrating how you can develop quality services and programs that get results and make an impact, teaching you how to perform mindfully so you can increase your resiliency as a business owner. 

Here’s what I want you to do next: I want you to take time in your journal and answer this question

“Why am I the best person to lead my clients through this journey?” whatever the journey is that you take them through from point A to point B. Why you? What happens if prospective buyers don’t work with you if they don’t find you if you can’t be found because you’re not promoting yourself and you’re not sharing the expert that you are? What happens? Where do they go? Who do they work with if not you? What happens if they never get the support that they need? Because that is the reality of what happens when you don’t own your credibility and share with people what you do and how you can help them. Fewer people get helped.