What if we told you there’s something you can do that will cost you nothing and help you attract even more customers?
We’ve watched hundreds of small business owners create businesses on their own terms and while we know that there’s no silver bullet or secret sauce, there is one thing that we’ve seen each successful business owner focus on…
In our modern world, we’re all craving both connection and authentic communication. Consumers no longer want to engage with companies who are impersonal and cold. Instead, they want to feel known and understood. By embracing your own story and being authentic in your business, you can attract the right customer and propel your business forward.
Neil Patel said it best, “The more virtual our lives get, the more we hunger after something genuine. What people really want now isn’t just a product or a service, it’s an experience. An experience that is more honest and transparent …more authentic – and businesses are going to have to keep up with growing consumer authority and give people what they want if they want to survive.”
Being authentic starts when you find yourself and embrace your story.
“We are struggling as human beings, but also as business owners to find and connect with other people,” shared Pepperlane member Jess Miller. Until you are willing to show up as who you are, you will struggle to find your tribe.
But why does being genuine matter?
Well, it may be the key to attracting more customers. In fact, we’ve seen time and again that the business owners who have consistently shown up authentically—on both social media and in emails to their audience— receive more profile views and higher website traffic on the Pepperlane Marketplace.
A recent article in Entrepreneur spoke to this same correlation, “When you genuinely love what you do — even if that's a passion for marketing or business processes — you will create sustainable connections with investors, suppliers, and (most importantly) customers.”
Here at Pepperlane, we've seen how true this is. We've learned that our audience of moms, and mom supporters resonate with some real talk. Recently, we published an article from Jess, our Co-founder titled, “How to Not Feel Bad About Yourself All the Damn Time.” In it, Jess opens up about her own struggle in balancing work, kids, and life in general. Something that we can all relate to. But, she uses this vulnerability to provide useful tips to our audience around both productivity and having compassion for yourself on those tough days.
This article remains one of our most popular blogs, largely because of the way it connected with readers in an authentic and genuine way.
So, how do you do it? How do you make authenticity a cornerstone in your business and turn it into your superpower? We asked some of our Pepperlane members, here are a few of their ideas.
Be Empowered by Your Story
What makes you stand out from the crowd? Sharing your journey helps your audience understand and relate to you, and attracts your ideal clients.
“I believe in the idea that people can’t find you and you can’t find your people unless you show up as who you are.” - Jess Miller
When she started her business, Justine Leach quickly realized that embracing her story allowed everything else to flow. “When you allow yourself to be in your business, then you can be real to who you are in every single aspect of what you do. Everything flows. The language flows, the words come, and it’s easier to know how you might respond to things.”
Practice Selective Vulnerability
Authenticity requires a certain amount of openness and honesty in order to be genuine. But that doesn't mean you need to reveal everything. A Harvard Business Review piece titled “The Authenticity Paradox” states, “Being authentic doesn’t mean that you can be held up to the light and people can see right through you.” In other words, while it’s important to be honest and real with those you serve, don’t let it come at the expense of seeming like you’re unprepared to do your job.
Finding this balance is different for each business owner and depends on the type of business you run.
Pepperlaner Justine Leach is a great example of striking this balance. Justine’s business was founded as a result of her personal story around trauma and the birthing process. She shares openly about her own experiences as they relate to the service she offers, but is more cautious about what she shares about her kids.
Justine knows that part of being authentic about her own experience will involve her kids, but that she does need to draw a line. For her, this means being vulnerable about her birthing experience, but maybe not sharing about struggles with potty training. She asks herself, “Would they be proud of me for speaking the truth, and would my ideal clients resonate with this message?” And with that filter, she chooses if something should be shared.
As a small business owner, you need to know where you personally want to draw the line. Lozelle Mathai shared how she has set a boundary around the level of transparency she is willing to allow into her business. “For me, it’s about revealing just enough but not everything. I want to leave a huge part of me for my family and true friends because they are my true supporters through thick and thin.”
Authenticity Creates Impact
Have you ever hired or worked with someone that has crafted a narrative that appears to be honest, but you quickly come to find that it’s too good to be true? You’re not alone! Overpromising can be a slippery slope and lead to unmet expectations and disappointed clients.
After having experiences like these with “gurus” who promised the world, Pepperlane leader Jennifer Zwiebel realized that being fully honest about herself and her successes played a huge role in helping her clients see bigger results from working with her. “Putting myself out there, as is (no larger than life promises, just the truth), has been empowering. Even when it seemed counterintuitive to some of the business minds out there, including my own! By being vulnerable and honest about my own story, I have been able to create safe spaces that are free of judgment.”
Unlike larger companies, small business owners have the opportunity to more personally and intentionally relate to their customers. Academic consultant Jennifer Mack explains: “I often put myself in the shoes of my ideal client. I try to understand and connect with their feelings (in my case, if their child is struggling in school) and think about what I would want if I were in that situation. I would want to be reassured that whoever I decided to work with is trustworthy and could make a real difference in solving my problem, so that’s how I want to show up.”
The Bottom Line
Don’t underestimate the power of authenticity to drive success in your business. When you bring your unique, authentic self into everything you do and seek to serve others, you will begin to attract your ideal clients, and build something that stands out from the competition.
#1SimpleAct: Begin to Cultivate Authenticity
Ready to try it out? If this approach feels new and foreign, that’s ok, there’s no need to rush out and tell the whole world every single thing about your life. Instead, just begin to take some time this week to get clear on your vision by focusing on these questions:
- What do I really want to offer my clients?
- What makes me uniquely qualified to do this?
- What sets me apart from others who do something similar?
- What level of transparency am I comfortable with?