Are you a business owner?
Or dreaming of being your own boss one day?
Well, I’d like to help you unleash your hidden talents.
I meet many business owners in my marketing consultancy who are keen to grow their businesses and succeed. Naturally. They are invariably a talented, hardworking and enthusiastic bunch.
So where’s the problem?
Talents. Skills. Competencies. Gifts. Whatever you want to call them, they have them in spadefuls, just not always the ones they think they do.
You see, many of us have a blind spot when it comes to recognising our own worth. I’m not talking about false modesty here. I’m talking about a complete lack of awareness.
Over time, we develop our talents, capabilities and skills, often to a level where they have real value to those around us. These could be called our ‘first tier gifts’, things that come so naturally to us that we feel embarrassed to charge for them. We take them for granted so we overlook their value to others.
Some time ago, I listened to a podcast of an interview with an Organisational Development consultant, Betsy Jordyn, who observed that we, rather perversely:
“build businesses off of (our) second tier gifts because these are the ones that we’re decent at but we have to work a little harder at.”
Our second-tier skills cost us some effort to acquire, so we value them more.
I see this with clients (and friends) time and time again, particularly in start-ups and young businesses.
I recently consulted to a business where the owner had deep, specialist skills gained over more than a decade in a highly competitive niche industry. But they were going to market with a range of products and services based on recent skills acquisition, overlooking their deeper, rarer knowledge completely. It’s a kind of mind-wipe, as if people leaving employment to start their own business suddenly forget everything they ever learned.
And yet that is your value, right there. All that great stuff you’ve spent years learning, honing and making part of you. And it’s ALL transferable, ALL valuable. Best of ALL, it’s likely to be the bits of your job that make you smile, that are like ‘falling off a log’.
So how do you work out what you do really well, what your ‘first tier skills’ are?
Well, Ms Jordyn’s advice is to:
“Just pay attention to compliments. Every single time you get a compliment, stop and listen to it, digest it and think, “What was it?” If you’re tempted to shrug it off… that’s your clue that you’re hitting on something really significant.”
So, what to do with all the other stuff you are currently offering? Well, you can always find others who you think are really good at those things – you see, it’s easy to see what other people are good at – and get them on board.
Also, moving away (gradually if need be) from the services or products that you are not really great at allows you to specialise.
There are many advantages to specialising.
1. When you specialise rather than generalise it’s easier for people to understand what you do (and recommend you to others)
2. Specialists (and experts) invariably command far higher fees.
3. Other specialists will feel safe working with you, because you are clearly brilliant at things they’re not, rather than okay at some of the things they specialise in and could compete for
4. It’s easier to market your products and services and to target your customers
5. It’s a relief! You don’t have to keep up with so many developments, just a few really important ones.
If you are reading this and thinking this may be you, start by becoming more self-aware. Listen to feedback from colleagues, family members, critical friends and customers. Work with a business coach if that helps you. Don’t be afraid to ask them too. You may be really surprised by what you learn so take time to gather and digest it.
Review your current products and services too. How many are based on your first tier skills and how many on your second tier skills? Which ones are really making you any money?
I have applied Ms Jordyn’s sage words to my own business and have worked through this model with many of my clients. Invariably, it has been a positive and empowering process: clarifying what you’re REALLY good at and outsourcing or discontinuing those products or services that require the greatest effort.
I hope you find this blog helpful and enjoy the process of working out where your greatest value lies.