The biggest lesson I’ve learned in my career is that the moment you decide to challenge convention, everything changes. The usual perception is that different is dangerous. But the opposite is really true: When you dare to be different, everything flows. Your “right people” notice you -- and want to work with you. Opportunities present themselves. Doors swing open, and struggle bites the dust.
It may seem strange and mysterious, but there’s a distinct reason this happens, and it has to do with resonance.
Think of your business as a tuning fork that puts out a unique vibration into the world. If you’re anything like me, you want to attract the customers and clients who are perfect for you; people with whom you see eye-to-eye and who make your work both a pleasure and a breeze. Those special people don’t resonate with a vanilla vibration, though. No, sir - they resonate with chocolate. And they can only find you if you define your business as something authentic and never-been-done-before.
Here are my tried-and-true shortcuts for uncovering your non-generic business sweet-spot fast -- and staying there, so you can reap the rewards.
- Come up with your convention-challenging concept
Now’s the time to chat with your infinitely wise inner self. If you could do your work your way -- the way that lights you up and has zero to do with the way it’s “usually”, “always”, or “supposed to be” done -- how would that look? In other words, what’s your wildest, craziest business dream that would delight not only you, but the kind of customers or clients you’d jump through hoops to work with? Figure that out, write it down, and start daydreaming about how great it’s going to feel to make it a reality.
- Adjust your tuning fork
Once you’ve got your concept, it’s time to inject it into every aspect of your business. I suggest starting with your website’s look and feel, copy, and page structure. If you have the funds in place for a complete overhaul of your site, fantastic. If not, consider taking a course to learn how to do it yourself. Next, tackle your marketing. Start refusing clients who aren’t your ideal match, and ponder new places and ways to talk about your brand. And finally, examine your systems -- from client intake, to lead-gathering, to email management. Throw out the systems that feel tied to your old model, and replace them with systems that will make your clients feel excited about what makes you different.
- Identify (and preach) your message
At the core of every remarkable business is a message. What’s yours? What is it that you believe about your business that differs from the accepted belief? Is it that accounting can be mixed with knee-slapping humor? That higher education can and should be free? Whatever it is, that’s your message. Getting it “out there” is both simple and uplifting: Infuse it into everything you create, from your blog posts to your products and services.
- Always be questioning
You may find certain people are offended by your boldness. Some clients may leave you. Some may tell you “who are you to do this?” Friends may drop out of your life. This is annoying, but normal. The important thing is that you stick to your guns. Check-in with yourself every once in a while to make sure your day-to-day activities remain true to your original vision. Do you feel fired up by what you’re doing? Are you confident you’re continuing to push the envelope? Use these questions as a compass. But don't feel compelled to lock yourself in to a business concept or message that no longer feels right. You are always evolving, and now that your business is an expression of you, it needs to change at the same rate you do.
- Stop and smell the roses
You’ve journeyed bravely, and your tuning fork is humming away at just the right frequency. You’ve got clients, sales, and meaningful connections on a scale and depth that makes you smile from ear to ear. But I have one last assignment for you, Ms. Entrepreneur; promise you’ll enjoy it. Don’t forget to relish the feeling of being where you are: A place you used to dream you’d be someday.
Amanda Aitken is an incurable entrepeneur with an addiction to challenging the status quo. Her latest project is The Girl's Guide to Web Design, a delectable online course that teaches women to DIY a jaw-dropping site or blog on the WordPress platform - coding and all.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business's development and growth.