We visited some friends yesterday afternoon for a February BBQ. It’s been that kind of “winter” here in the DC area. I roasted butternut squash while the grill fired up hot dogs, homemade hamburgers, and a lone vegetable patty. The pup made out better than anyone, as she snatched a full cheeseburger off the ground and found some bits of bun.
Our hosts, parents of a toddler and a newborn, somehow keep space in their brain for everyone else’s life updates. I don’t like talking about my work at social gatherings—which I’ve talked about—and typically come up with a very short response that won’t elicit further questioning. But, Ivan asked, “So, what’s your business?” And I knew he wasn’t looking for the elevator pitch. Before I could answer, he added that he knows someone with a consulting business who has explained their skills to him many times, but he still doesn’t understand what they actually do. I get that. I find it really odd when someone can’t (or chooses not to) explain their job in layman’s terms. I always find myself thinking, “But, like, what do you DO everyday?”
So, I told him exactly that. I said I do Nutrition and Run Coaching, which has been part of my “side hustle” for years, on and off. I do more of it now, because I have the time. I explained my group coaching philosophy. We talked about freelance writing. I said I (finally) started an LLC, and he said, “It’s like you’re a real adult!” (Of note: He met me at 23.) Then, to make sure I’m doing it right, I asked him the same question. “What do I do?” He passed the pop quiz.
“Don’t keep secret what you’re seeking, or you’ll never find it.”
I reread The Alchemist last year, and wrote down all the quotes that spoke to me at the time. I reread that list of quotes yesterday, and stared at this one. It seems so obvious, yet so hard. As you start a business, project, or whatever your thing may be, it’s tempting to keep it to yourself.
What if it doesn’t work out? What if you fail? What if people don’t like it? WHAT IF your idea isn’t validated by someone else’s approval? Well, then you’ll figure out something that does work. Or you’ll fight for your thing. But either way, if no one knows what the hell you’re doing, they can’t even try to help. If potential clients don’t know you’re offering a service, how are they going to hire you?
Tell people what you’re doing.
Be open about it! Put it out there. Don’t hoard this information. It doesn’t help anyone. If you’re an entrepreneur, your livelihood depends on people knowing what you do.
Word of mouth (or WOM, as it’s known) will always be your best marketing. We talked about this for days and days at Spright; it’s just as relevant to any one individual coach/counselor. Last week I met with two clients who were referred by my close friends. Three of my Spring Training group runners were referred by people who had worked with me before. My friends have hired me to coach them, the same way I hired friend to coach me.
This wouldn’t happen if they had no idea what I do. At least half of my business wouldn’t exist without my friends, or the friends of my clients.
Hi, I’m Heather and I have a small coaching business.
I work mostly with active women of all ages, as a nutrition and running coach. Many, but not all, of my clients have a history of disordered eating or over-exercising, and may have lost their menstrual cycle. I do what I can to help them get it back! I provide all clients with a community, because it helps to know you’re not the only one working on something big.
I work on a few other projects, like freelance writing and some peer-to-peer consulting. I love that work, too! But right now, I know that my story and my knowledge base may help other women. So, I’m focusing on that.
What are you working on? (In business or life.)