Four Important Lessons I’ve Learned in Small Business

November 15, 2022

Caroline here.

This morning over breakfast I pulled out my phone to find a saved Note of addresses, and came across a flurry of other Notes “on business” that I’ve jotted down over the last few months over random times. Coffee times, commute times, evening-walk-in-the-neighborhood times.

What follows is the synthesis of those notes, which feel appropriate to share here as we prepare to close out 2022 and step into a new year.

Let me know in the comments if any of these resonate with you, too:

01. It doesn’t matter how much experience you have. Everyone in small business is struggling with the same things.

Imposter syndrome. Pricing. Tough clients. Burnout. Boundary-setting. Timeline management. Stressful seasons.

The expressions may vary between us all, but we’re facing the same stuff. 

That’s a difficult truth. It means the big problems don’t disappear when you “achieve success.”

It also means we can share stories and relate to one another. Have a laugh, lend an ear, exchange knowledge. 

We’ve all been there.

02. You don’t have to be the most unique person in the room.

You just have to package your business strategically.

There’s a difference.

Turns out you don’t HAVE to be some kind of uncommon animal who offers some proprietary experience or result never before seen in the history of entrepreneurial humans.

That’s not the work. 

The work, rather, is about perception — how you package the work and brand yourself with visuals and messaging that your people can understand, value, and find their place in. 

We can take any business and package it a million different ways. 

The key is choosing a package that works.

Here’s a selfish example: At BLUEPRINT, we empower you as Realtors to package yourselves the right way, with great visual branding and great copywriting. 

One way we do this is by packaging OURSELVES the right way. 

We make a brand promise that is true to us and essential to our clients. 

Our promise is that if you insist on standing out and converting more in real estate, then come to us — because making you stand out and convert more is what we do.

It’s how we go beyond industry expectations, destigmatize real estate branding, and outshine our competitors.

Our brand promise is where our best business packaging begins.

A brand promise is where yours begins, too.

The longer you go without being able to package your business in a way that works, the longer you feel like an imposter…

The longer you try to look and sound “important”…

The longer you feel shame.

Other people are out there aplenty in real estate, doing what you do. It’s your daily reality. 

So focus on the brand packaging, the promise, and the perception instead. You’ll capture attention and release a lot of tension along the way. 

03. You have much more to offer than you think.

The longer you’re in business, the longer you’ll see your own inadequacies. 

You’re tempted to believe that you have little to offer anymore. 

It’s actually the reverse. 

Your inadequacies can actually be a doorway to a more focused level of service — with greater authenticity toward your client base — because you’re confident in what you do well, and what you don’t, and why. 

Believe it or not, people appreciate knowing what you *don’t* specialize in, too.

In helps persuade them of your exclusivity. 

Last week I told a Realtor that we don’t build custom websites and we don’t make custom email signatures, and why. 

I told him we wanted his business, but I’d rather refer him to another agency who could do the better job in these specific areas. Meanwhile, we’d be happy to support him elsewhere, where we do thrive.

“This actually makes me trust you guys more for the other stuff we need done,” he said. “I don’t need someone blowing me a bunch of smoke.”

What we have to offer is more than we think, and the trust we can earn is greater than we may imagine, if we know the worth of ourselves and can defend the value + parameters of the offer.

04. Business is emotional.

People start businesses because they inherently believe that they can do The Thing better than someone else.

Their self-worth is a catalyst for the decision to begin with.

And that’s emotional.

Seriously — what do you do when someone pushes on your best results? Doesn’t like your rates? Ghosts you? Takes something proprietary away from you?

All of these scenarios take emotional work. There’s no tactical way to complete this process faster than others, or just bury your self worth issues under generic good business advice. 

Eventually, it all comes out.

I’m surprised at how often it comes out in my own work and how annoyingly necessary it is to explore one’s deep self as part of doing the work.

What do other people believe about me and what do I believe about myself? 

Where do these two categories bleed into each other and what must I overcome to separate the two?

Business is emotional, because self-worth is hard work.

So notice what triggers you. Take time before responding to hard situations. Remember that while your worth does not change, your work does. 

These steps have helped me.

Together, they’re a pathway to creating resilience in your business.

To your success, always —

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