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How to Stand Out: Differentiate Your Business with Authenticity

Copyright 2009 OnlineBizU.com

I had lunch several years ago with a colleague in a networking group. We talked about many things and were trying to get to know each other so that we could better understand what might make a great referral for the other. One of the things he told me caused me to chuckle because it was so true, but it seemed to surprise him somewhat.

He told me that he liked my website because I was straight-forward, to the point and I just "put it all out there". By that he meant that I outlined what I do, how I do it, the benefits of what I do, and that I let the visitor decide to either buy into it or not. Most surprisingly, I didn't seem to have any attachment to the visitor's decision either way. I didn't waste any time trying to convince visitors that I was always the right choice, regardless of circumstance. However, if the visitor does "buy" into what I'm offering, they have ample opportunities to get on one of my lists and/or purchase something from me.

My response to his observation was that, as a small business owner, I had the responsibility of discouraging as many people as possible from wanting to do business with me. I know this philosophy sounds crazy, especially in this day and age of a downturned economy.

Here's my belief: I'm not out to sell my services or my products to the world, nor do I want to sell my services to everyone. I only work with clients who meet my ideal client profile and only market to those in my target market. Period. And, that's only a very small chunk of the world. Why? Because I truly believe that there's enough business for everyone.

I love my business and my life so much more when I work exclusively with clients that I love. I do that through what I call the WYSIWYG approach, or "What You See is What You Get." I am who I am and let that center of authenticity come through in all that I do--my speaking, my writing, my website, my coaching, my personal interactions.

If you don't "buy" into the business that is me, that's wonderful! You can continue your search for a coach/consultant/infomarketer that better meets your needs, and I still have room in my practice for clients that I'd love to work with. If you do "buy" into what I do and who I am, you're doing it because on some level, you're buying into "Donna the Person", and the good, bad, and ugly that accompanies that.

Now that I'm firmly entrenched in middle age, I finally feel that I'm fully coming into my own in all aspects of my life, and I have stopped running away from those aspects that I thought others might not like or might be offended by. Being myself for a living is so much easier than trying to live up to an image (or create an image) that doesn't really exist.

When working in higher education, I always felt that I was split in two halves, Donna the Human Being and Donna the Housing Administrator. Rarely did the two Donnas meet -- they were almost separate personalities, and quite frankly, Donna the Human Being (my true self) didn't really care for Donna the Housing Administrator at all. It's no wonder I felt exhausted all the time in that job -- I was living two distinct lives, and one of those lives I really hated.

The creation of my own business -- and my own set of rules -- has freed me to be me -- and probably saved me thousands in therapy fees.

My role model in life is the late Ann Richards, former governor of the great state of Texas. Ann was bold, brave, humorous, bright, and embodied the best in a Southern/Texas woman, and made no bones about that. Long ago I decided to embrace my being a "southern girl from the sticks" (English translation--lived in the country in a small East Texas town) rather than trying to make myself over into something more palatable to a wider group.

I used to share my small town East Texas stories with a former client, who enjoyed them while simultaneously urging me to relocated to a more urban area. I told her if I moved, she would lose her great source of funny stories that she could incorporate into her speeches, and I would lose what makes me "me."

As a small business owner, how can you incorporate "you" into your business so that your ideal clients are naturally drawn to you? What natural gifts and talents do you possess but aren't willing to acknowledge? In your business, share your story, or the reason you do what you do. A very rewarding way to run your business is to be yourself for a living and play to your gifts. Most importantly, it's what makes your business distinct -- and helps you stand out in a sea of small businesses.


Online Business Manager and Online Business Coach Donna Gunter helps independent service professionals learn how to automate their businesses, leverage their expertise on the Internet, and get more clients online. To claim your FREE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketing Toolkit, visit her site at OnlineBizU.com . Ask Donna an Internet Marketing question at AskDonnaGunter.com

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