This is the first blog that I am publishing since my website went live, more than two months ago. I am writing it, because I would like to link to a recent blog post in my newsletter, that I am about to send out for the first time in 7 months. Over the past few days I sent out more than 35 emails, checking in with clients whom I had not heard from for a while. This morning I sent out 19 requests for testimonials from past clients. Why so many? Why all at once?
Because I have been hiding…
Consistent communication is essential
We all know how important visibility is for small businesses. Most of you reading this blog will be actively promoting your products and services through social media and on your website. You probably have a content plan – or feel like you should have one. If you are hard core, you can close your eyes and tell me without a moment’s hesitation which groups to post your genius tips in and on which days.
Sure, you may go through some ups and downs. Times when you are super active and times when you step back, but overall, you know you need to communicate consistently because that is what brings the clients to your door.
Then, there is your one-on-one communication with your clients. You know, that easy conversation that happens when everything is going well… when a new client signs up that you are incredibly excited to work with… when your client workflow processes are ticking over like a well-oiled machine, making sure your client feels consistently cared for… Those are the time when consistent communication is effortless and joyful. But I don’t really want to talk about those times today.
Have you ever felt the urge to hide?
I want to talk about those other times…
The times when overwhelm rears its ugly head and you suddenly have so many clients you don’t know what to do. The times when the kids are fighting, the dog is throwing up and hubby is away for three weeks leaving everything in your lap. The times when you are so flu-ridden you can hardly drag yourself to the bathroom and back…
And what about the times when there is nothing happening? When you are waiting for a client to get back to you, or they are waiting for you to get back to them? Do you know that no-man’s land where no-one takes responsibility and clients fall through the gaps of your CRM?
Worst of all, what about those times when you make a mistake, when the work you are doing for your client goes pear-shaped and you wish the ground would just open up and swallow you, so you don’t have to worry about what to do next?
What do you do in those circumstances? If you are anything like me, your first instinct is to bury your head in the sand and hide.
The power of vulnerable authenticity
I have done a lot of hiding in my life. I am intimately familiar with that paralysed feeling that wishes the world would just go away and leave me alone… and often times it does. In this most recent period of hiding, brought on by the stress of selling our house, I admit that I have had clients decide they no longer want to work with me. You know what? They were a tiny minority.
There is one thing that always pulls me out of my fear, and that is Brené Brown’s teachings about vulnerable authenticity. No matter how stuck I feel, sooner or later, something reminds me that I CHOOSE COURAGE. Once I remember that, the rest just follows.
The first thing I do is put my business house in order. I update my finances, sort through my emails, make lists of each person I need to contact and where we are up to. When you feel like everything is in a mess, it can take a lot of courage to face it honestly, but I promise, as soon as you do, you start to feel better and it snowballs from there!
~ As an aside, having software systems that work for you makes this a whole lot more pleasant. I had been using Insightly for my CRM and Outlook for my mail, and part of the reason for my recent funk is that it was no longer working for me. Outlook completely failed me, and Insightly began to feel like a whole lot of hard work to keep updated. I am now using GSuite for my email and Streak for my CRM, so everything is integrated in one place, and I couldn’t be happier. Put systems in place that you enjoy using. Really. It makes all the difference. ~
Next, I start reaching out. I take action on any important fires or hotspots; things that have gone wrong or where the other person might have reason to be upset with me. I pour love into the situation, taking responsibility and apologising sincerely where I am at fault. I explain the circumstances honestly and clearly from my perspective. I acknowledge and empathise with their feelings. I put forward generous options for moving forward and I ask for them to respond in kind… which they invariably do.
As Brené Brown says:
“Courage is contagious. Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver.”
The next time you are feeling like it easier to stay silent, don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes we need to take a step back, but don’t stay there. Gather your courage and reach out. Let yourself be open and vulnerable. Brave heart, you’ve got this!
How I can help
If you have been hiding from a client because you are worried about the legal ramifications of reaching out, I would be happy to chat with you. A loving approach can often be so much more effective than a legalistic one! If you would like to meet other brave business owners who are also authentically dealing with their weaknesses, consider joining The Serenity Connective.