Helping small business owners develop extraordinary businesses that really work for their customers, their employees, themselves and their families

Too shy to promote yourself?

Every day, more people have an entrepreneurial urge to start a new business.

They believe, with their great skills or products, they can just “put up their shingle” and “the world will beat a path to their door.”

When they open their doors, they have the shocking realization they don’t know how to get customers/clients/patients and, since they “aren’t natural salespeople”, they are afraid to promote themselves!

Most colleges and schools do a good job teaching good “marketable” skills and omit a gaping “missing piece!” — how to promote and operate your own business.

From the time we are small children, our families and friends teach us, “No one likes a bragger!”

No wonder when we grow up, we’re afraid of offending others by letting them know how we can help them!

When told they must sell themselves, many professionals say, “I’m not comfortable with that!”

My response is, “So what?! That’s what you must do when you’re in business!”

Contributing to our fear of self-promotion is the feeling that we aren’t really “good enough.” This is called “imposter syndrome” or self-doubt. We’re afraid of being discovered to be a fraud.

Guess what? We all have it sometimes! Yes, even Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Kim Kardashian! Recognizing you’re in good company might be a good first step in confronting the problem. Yes, you’re human with feet of clay, and so is everybody else.

The inability to accept a compliment might be a symptom of suffering from imposter syndrome. Instead of saying “Thank you!”, you might say “It was nothing,”, “No big deal,” or “I was lucky.”

To be a successful entrepreneur or salesperson, it’s essential that you develop your persuasive abilities and personal courage. As the saying goes, “Pull up your Big Boy/Girl panties!”

Here are a few suggestions to help:

  • Make a personal inventory of your strengths and areas to improve.
  • Keep a success binder of your accomplishments.
  • Ask for honest feedback from people who know you of your strong points.
  • Make a habit of accepting compliments with a “Thank you!” response.
  • Join a Chamber of Commerce, service organization or mastermind group of people who give mutual support.
  • Take a public speaking course and find opportunities to speak. Toastmasters International provides such opportunities for their members.
  • Recognize that you know more in your area of expertise than any of your prospective customers/clients/patients and its your business to help them. It’s shameful if you don’t!
  • Take courses on marketing and professional selling.
  • Get out and talk to people! If they don’t buy, you had an opportunity to practice. Self-critique after meetings. How can you improve?
  • Get the contact information and make a list for every person you talk to. Make a schedule to keep in touch. Who else do they know who can help you?
  • Consider whether you need some psychological therapy to see and accept the ways you are gifted and learn to accept yourself.
  • If you just can’t seem to break through, find a partner who is a great promoter, like Walt Disney (the promoter) and his brother, Roy, (the back-office person.) In that case, you’ll have to accept the fact you won’t be the “star” or “brand” of your business.

None of these work for you? Being an entrepreneur isn’t for you. It’s OK to be an employee. Get a job!

If you have a burning desire to be an entrepreneur, recognize that having promotional skills and a healthy self image are essential for your success, and you can learn them.

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Helping small business owners develop extraordinary businesses that really work for their customers, their employees, themselves and their families