When you run a business, authenticity is crucial. There’s a great article on this subject here, but in summary, people buy from people, and while not everyone will be drawn to us (that’s just a fact of life!), our ideal customers will be. But only if we embrace who we are and only if we allow ourselves to be seen by those customers. Only if we allow those customers to get to know us. Admittedly that takes confidence, especially if you’re an introvert like me, but there are lots of ways to approach how to be authentic in business. The key is to find the ways that work for you and this is something I talk about a lot with my business coaching clients.
What does it mean to be authentic?
Quite simply, being authentic is about being yourself. It’s about owning your story and what brought us to where we are today. It’s about staying true to what you do, why and how you do it, and who you are trying to support. And acknowledging that that, in itself, can create huge value for others.
Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.Judy Garland
Once we’re able to do this, we’re able to bring the best of ourselves to the table. Our passion for what we do and what we’re trying to achieve shines through. Authenticity builds trust, and as we know, the Know, Like, Trust relationship is crucial when it comes to the future of our businesses.
How to be authentic
We know that being authentic is important, but how do we go about it? And how do we make sure that in a world full of pressure to be a certain way, we’re able to not only be proud of who we are, but share it with the world? Here are my top 5 tips on how to be authentic in business.
1) Revisit your story
Sometimes, it can be difficult to remember all of the things and experiences that have made up our life so far. We forget just how far we’ve come. And it can be easy to start to compare ourselves to others, perhaps leading us to doubt our own strengths as a result.
But actually, our story is what makes us special. It’s what makes us unique. And that’s something to be celebrated.
So before trying to tell your story to others, revisit it on a personal level. Make a note of where you’ve been and where you’re going – and why. Think about your qualifications and achievements. The things you’ve experienced and the lessons you’ve learned. The things that drive and motivate you and how that translates to the service you provide for others.
Think about it. Write it down if you need to. And most importantly, own who you are.
2) Listen to your gut
When it comes to how to be authentic, this point is a crucial one for me. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Because when we go against our gut, it’s impossible for us to be our best, most authentic selves. Take the pointy reel thing on Instagram. The internet is flooded with evangelists of this kind of activity both from a technical and marketing standpoint.
And I will be the first to tell you that there are many positives to be gained from these kinds of posts. BUT if this style of marketing doesn’t fit with you, it can become easy to feel pressure to ‘conform’.
So instead, be brave. Listen to yourself and focus on what feels right for you.
3) Surround yourself with the right people
As entrepreneurs, we need to surround ourselves with people that build us up, not keep us down. This is particularly true when it comes to authenticity and confidence. We need people around us who believe in us for who we are. People who are willing to champion us both to ourselves and to others. People who listen and understand where we’re coming from and why. These people will not only boost your confidence on the difficult days, but they will also amplify your light, and share it with others – all of which is so important when you’re trying to build a strong, authentic personal brand.
4) Tell your story, your way
Whereas the first three points above are ‘internal’, this one is about feeling confident with how you deliver your message. Do you, for example, prefer words or pictures, or a mixture of both? What are your limits in terms of the tipping point between personal and family life? This is particularly pertinent if you have young children.
Again, the key here is to listen to your gut. Yes, we need to pay attention to who our customers are and where they hang out. But we need to join them there feeling comfortable and feel strong in the messages we’re putting out there, and in how we’re sharing them.
5) Be genuine
My final piece of advice on the subject of how to be authentic in business is to be genuine. A lot of time can be lost when we try to be someone we’re not, and of course in doing that, we also run the risk of failing to attract those customers who would be drawn to our authentic selves. On a personal level, I also believe that when we realise someone isn’t being genuine, that in itself is a big red flag in terms of any future relationship.
So own your story and who you are. Own the way you do things and why. Hold on tight to the notion of the genuine, authentic ‘you’, protect it fiercely, and let it shine! You’ve got this!
Your work is to discover who you are and then with all your heart give your light to the world.Jennifer Williamson
As an afterword to this blog (and in case you were wondering… this is me. Anna. My number one job is Mama to my gorgeous, quirky, wonderful 9 year old. I’m determined, a little bit stubborn, and fiercely loyal to the people and causes that I care about. I’m a HELLP Syndrome survivor. A dancer in the rain and a seeker of light in dark places. I’m a guide, challenger and cheerleader…. and I’m passionate about helping YOU to build a business that you can fall absolutely in love with.
And what about you? What are all of the things that make you unique? The things that give you a true, authentic self to be proud of? I’d love to find out more!