What does a successful business owner look like to you?

Are you thinking of the entrepreneurs on Dragon’s Den right now?

To many, a business owner is about being suited and booted, perfectly groomed, designer suit, and a “don’t mess with me kind of attitude”.

Now, how much of that actually resonates with you?

Chances are it doesn’t, and that’s a good thing. Being a business owner isn’t like being part of a club where you have to look, dress and act the same as everyone else to get ahead.

The most important thing you need to be… is you.

People do business with people

That’s why we’re so often told we have to dress and act a certain way, to meet the expectations of the people we’re hoping to do business with.

But, what happens when that portrayed image is nothing like the real you?

Over time, the mask will drop as you get to know your client and develop a rapport. Often this works well, and you foster a strong trust and respect for each other within your working relationship, but the opposite can happen too.

If a client buys into “you” and then discover that actually, that wasn’t you at all, what’s going to happen?

They might feel cheated, lied to, like they can’t trust you anymore, etc.

Now, that’s quite extreme, and you’re probably thinking that “most people know the image presented to get sales is an act, we all do it after all”,  but just because everyone does it, doesn’t mean that you should. You’re always running the risk of:

  • attracting the wrong clients to your business
  • damaging your reputation
  • losing clients
  • losing money
  • unhappiness at feeling trapped in a fake persona

Faking it to you make it is a one-way street to imposter syndrome

It’s estimated that 1 in 5 business owners struggle with imposter syndrome. That feeling of never being good enough and always waiting to be “found out” by a client that you’re a fraud, that you can’t do the things you promised, etc.

Sound familiar?

If you’re not comfortable wearing suits and acting “business-like” when meeting prospective clients and existing customers, that’s going to make you feel like a fraud, and they are going to pick up on it.

You won’t be your naturally confident and stunning self, and you’ll probably reach the stage of settling for “second best” rather than aiming high and attracting the dream clients you really want to work with.

Authenticity matters.

Chances are those ideal customers you want to work with are similar to yourself. They have similar perspectives, ideas, and are someone you could imagine spending time with away from work.

That might sound a little creepy but stop to think about it for a second. Would you feel comfortable working with or for someone that you’d typically avoid on a personal level?

And it works both ways. Clients aren’t going to be attracted to working with you if they can’t see the real you, what you really stand for and how you can help them.

You are your own unique selling point

It’s true, no one else can do what you do the way that you can, because they’re not you.

There are thousands of virtual assistants around the world, but no one else can help my clients the way that I can because they don’t have my experiences, work history and skills that have honed me into the business owner I am today.

The same goes for you too.

It doesn’t matter what you do for your business, whether it’s products you sell or services, no one else is doing it in precisely the same way that you are and getting the same results. That’s what makes you stand out from the crowd and attract the ideal customers you’re looking for.

So, how can you make sure that you’re being authentic in your business?

By allowing the real you to shine through wherever it can. From your website copy, blog content, social media, videos and any other communication you have with your target audience. By not being afraid to show the real you in face to face meetings, dress how you like, don’t stress so much on having perfect hair and really, who cares if you want a giant slice of cake with your coffee?

Use your intuition, follow that gut instinct in your stomach or wherever you feel it and trust it.

Have empathy with your clients and your audience, opening up to how they feel will help you figure out their struggle and how you can help them best.

Be honest and admit when you don’t know something or can’t answer a question straight away. Honesty is always the best policy, and you’ll find people respect you more for being transparent than trying to bluff your way through a situation.

Don’t be afraid to share some personal information. You don’t have to get specific but finding common ground is the best way of developing a trusting rapport that leads to strong working relationships and demonstrates that you’re so much more than someone trying to get a sale.

It can be hard to let the real you shine through but trust me, doing so will benefit your business and fulfill all that you dreamed being a business owner could be, for you and your family.