Running a business is intimidating, especially if you're a part of the online entrepreneurial world. It can seem like everyone is trying to make it big online and that you'll never stand out when so many have the same skills and business you do.
I get it. I've been there - many, many times. When you spend as much time online as I do (mostly for business, but also for fun), you get exposed to a lot of Instagram-perfect people and businesses. There always seems to be someone who has been around longer, who is making more money, who has more clients, who charges less, who charges more, who does less, who does more, or who is just totally rocking it in a way you think you never will.
When you're just starting out, I think it can be beneficial to see what other people in your industry are doing - but eventually you have to let go of everyone else and learn to forge your own path.
Turn off the Internet
Kidding, not kidding. Yes, the internet may be vital to your business (it is to mine), but it's also really easy to get trapped in the world of pretty pictures and social media. When I'm feeling really down about my business, I turn off my computer and get into the real world. I take a walk, talk to friends, read, or just write out my feelings and ideas.
If you're constantly plugged in and online, there is no space to come up with your own way of doing business because you'll be too focused on what others are doing. Keep your eyes on your own paper and stop allowing doubt to stop you from pursuing your business the way you want to.
Don't Hide Who You Are
People buy from people. But they don't buy from just anyone. You need to be yourself in order to connect with the people who want to buy from you. Don't be afraid to be different - share what you love, the things you're passionate about, and your opinions. Sure, not everyone will agree with you, but you'll be able to build relationships with the people who do.
In my business, I'm very open about the role that faith plays in my life. And that turns some people off. But it also means that I get to have some really awesome conversations with readers and clients who are attracted to me because of my faith.
You've probably heard this advice a lot - you can't serve everyone. And it's true, especially as your business grows. I see no problem taking on a lot of different work when you're just starting out - how else will you know what you love? - but once you find that thing that lights you up, it's important to stick to it. And that thing can be a type of client, a certain style, a method of working, or something else.
The more that you can really hone in on the one thing you love and that lights you up, the more you can refine that and make it the best it can be. This is what's going to bring people to you - not that you make pretty logos or that your VA services are less expensive than everyone else - it's that you have a passion about what you do and who you serve.
At Lemon and the Sea, I'm passionate about helping creatives and small businesses focus on the things that make them unique in their industry and translate those into their brand. I don't limit myself to one type of client - in fact, I like working with a variety of style and personalities. But I do focus on connecting with and tailoring my services to those who want to be involved in the design process. This means that I don't limit the number of calls to talk about design strategy and feedback. It means that I'm okay with getting on Skype and sharing my screen so that my clients can see changes happening on their website in real time. It also means that my process isn't built for people who want to fill out one questionnaire and then allow me to come back with a finished brand and Squarespace website two months later. I've found the way that I can do my best work for people that I love connecting with.
Do it Your Way
Even if your are in an industry that already has lots of great businesses in it, you can still stand out. You just have to let go of the "way you're supposed to do it" and find your own way.
Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family. I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.