Every Friday I post a “here’s the thing” blog. “Here’s the thing” is something my mum (and many other wise people) like to say when they’re about to make a good point. Hopefully these posts are also good points.
Earlier this week, I tweeted about authenticity, asking whether it was something anyone thought about. That tweet came up after I chose it as my word for the week this week, because I needed the reminder that being authentic is important to me as a person, and to my work and business.
But what does that mean? Well, for me, it means working with clients I really connect with – I don’t have to pretend to like them or their products or their businesses: I actually do like them. It means being real, and that means being honest about what I can and can’t do, or about the fact that I’m also a flawed human being who sometimes puts off doing the washing up for way too long.
Being real, being honest, being true to who I am – that’s really important.
And I know from working with some incredibly talented, ambitious and skilful clients that authenticity is something that’s valued by the small creative business community. Authenticity is somehow implicitly linked to the practice of being creative and selling your craft.
How do you sell your products without being “salesy”? How do you talk about yourself and your business up without appearing arrogant or pushy? How do you present the best of yourself, without appearing fake, but also without revealing a bit too much? How do you stay true to your craft, passion, talent, without selling out in the name of money, popularity or competition?
Is your ambition authentic to your craft, or will you go after anything in the quest for more sales? I get asked a lot whether a particular brand can expand into a new product area or market. The answer is almost always yes, but does it still feel authentically like you, like an extension of your brand? That’s the thing that can be challenging, but ultimately makes you feel like your business is still your business.
At a basic level, the idea of a false conversation with someone, or pretending to be someone I’m not, makes me want to tear my hair out. Actually, it makes me lose enthusiasm, passion, energy just thinking about it. Bleurgh!
So here’s the thing:
To grow your business in a way that’s sustainable and stable, it needs to include authenticity. It needs you to be honest about what’s imperfect, what’s real and what’s not.
If being authentic feels important to you, work out what that means. What makes you feel most like you? What makes your business feel like your business, and not someone else’s? What’s so unique to your brand that you can’t do without it?
And an important note: being authentic doesn’t mean you share every single thought you have on social media. It doesn’t mean you purposefully hurt someone because you don’t like them. It means saying no, steadily and surely, and walking away from the things that don’t resonate.
This week, in all the crazy school holidays, Christmas planning and general life, I hope you’re able to find a moment to think about authenticity and the part it plays in your business.