Drop the fake accent and tell your ogre to zip it!
Launching a new business is a daunting task. From the outset, I worried about the very real possibility that NO client would be interested in knocking on this freshly painted door.
“Too inexperienced.” they’d say.
“Where's her overflowing cabinet of awards and trophies?"
“Phhhht! Not even 200 fans on Facebook?”
This last point will often come barrelling in at top speed and full volume, swiftly sitting your pyjama-clad ass down at your kitchen bench/ make-shift office desk like nobody’s business. First, it will demand, “Who do you think you are?!” Then, dissatisfied with how little your bottom lip trembled, it will turn up the heat: “Who do you think you are compared to that more experienced/ highly decorated/ socially influential/less expensive person?”
Approaching 40 with an (alleged) abundance of self-confidence that comes with age? Ten years plus of being my own boss? Whatevs! The Ogre of self-doubt continued to chime in.
And so, it continued… For six days, or thereabouts.
Until the phone started to ring. “Screw you, Ogre!” I hissed (albeit quietly in case his friend Murphy, and his ill-fated law decided to pay me a visit). I’m now 30 days into my new biz and as of this very moment, booked out. Not by much, but if a client needed me right here, right now? Not tonight Josephine.
I met with a new client last week to start on work on a copywriting project. They had lots of questions and clear idea about their desired outcome. I could tell they’d done their homework and picked up that they’d spoken with several people before calling me in. By the time our meeting ended I was curious. “Why did you choose me?” I asked.
“You were the most expensive” they began. Then added, “but what you create stands out.”
I had to laugh. It was the first time I’d heard I was the most expensive, but in all honesty, I didn’t know what others were charging. Why? This may surprise you, but I’m just not terribly interested. Now, some may disagree with this approach, but when I was in the planning stage of my business I didn’t jump on the phone with a fake accent, hand out a temporary email address or a bogus phone number to research what others were charging. I wanted to provide outstanding service and the best product my efforts could bring to life, and I didn’t need to compare myself to the next person in order to do that. Then I simply asked, “how much would I pay for that?”
Because when you start setting your prices in comparison to you supposed competition?
You’ll start adjusting everything else in line with it: Your standard of work; your creativity; your originality; your dependability; and likely, your dedication to a task once so fulfilling you were inspired to build a business around it.
When you set out solely to create distance between your Product A and the next guy’s Product B, you’ll remain in a position of comparison (“Who do you think you are compared to them?!”). Industry experts might spot a few differences, sure, but it’s unlikely the untrained eyes of your customers will notice them at all. (And then they’ll do what they’ve learnt to do best: compare on price-point.)
To offer something in a league of its own requires you to stop focusing on what the other leagues are doing in the first place. Quit looking to the competition, and you’ll end up being the only point of interest in an otherwise empty playing field.