Fresh out of college, I was a lowly entry-level employee hired to update social media and the company blog and help plan events. Basically, it was my job to perform a bunch of tedious tasks that no one else wanted to do so that the rest of my team could concentrate on more important initiatives.
Apparently, I didn't get that message.
In a matter of months, I discovered my passion for content marketing and started dreaming up ways to revolutionize the way we leveraged social media and our blog. I set out on a mission to change the way the crusty company I worked for communicated with their leads and customers.
I fought for my mission tenaciously.
Somehow, I thought I knew something. That my ideas mattered. And when they were met with resistance, I just fought harder. It didn't matter who that push-back came from -- I stood my ground in front of admins and executives. It wasn't a matter of being defiant or not knowing my place, I was simply determined that little ol' me could change this company. In fact, I believed it was my responsibility.
That was four years ago.
Looking back, I cant help but blush at my naiveté. My more experienced, respectful, political self wonders what made me so confident. I didn't have experience to back up my ideas. I didn't even have much proof that my ideas would work.
What I did have, though, were ideas and passion. And a lot of tenacity. (Some might say, stubbornness.) So, I stood for something and then fought for it relentlessly.
Somewhere along the journey from entry-level employee to small business owner, that passion and purpose was lost in the shuffle. From being responsible for nothing to being personally responsible for my clients and my livelihood, my tenacity tapered. Like many small business owners, I'm still stubborn. But my unflappable courage was overcome by a bit of fear. Fear of money, fear of disappointing a key client, fear of letting down my partners.
When I stop blushing at my old over-confidence, I start to wonder what my younger-self would think of the current version of me -- as I hold my breath, waiting for the next shoe to drop?
No, I don't have the privilege of completely ignoring my responsibilities like my young-self could. But I can still learn from her. Specifically:
A healthy dose of fearlessness fuels innovation and creativity.
For small business owners, being aware of risks and potential problems is important. But that information can either fuel our innovation and creativity or stifle it. It's our choice. Thinking outside of the box is risky, but it's what keeps us from becoming stagnant and irrelevant. So, a healthy dose of fearlessness is in fact essential when building a business and keeping clients happy.
Confidence catalyzes action and maintains momentum.
You and I didn't get into business because we offered a sub-par product or service. We got into business because we have something awesome to offer our clients. Somehow, through the everyday madness that is being a small business owner, it's all too easy to forget our value. But how can we truly serve our clients when we aren't confident in all that we bring to the table? We can't. How can we sell our products and services if we don't truly believe in what we're offering? We can't. It's crucial that we regain that confidence for our own sanity and for the benefit of our clients.
Passion gives us all (including our clients) something to believe in and fight for every day. That's called purpose.
It's easy to fall into the trap of focusing our time, energy and communication on what we do instead of how we help. After all, we work hard on our products and services and we want to talk about them! But it's incredibly difficult for our team, leads and clients to be passionate about features. It is however, much easier to be passionate about a common cause-something that both our clients and ourselves can believe in and fight for. So instead of fighting for features, we can make the decision to be passionate about the ways we help, the problems we solve, and how we transform our clients' businesses and lives.
Embracing that fearlessness, confidence and passion again might be exactly what I need to breathe out and tackle my day, instead of waiting for it to blindside me. It might be what my business needs to serve our clients with tenacity. Something to believe in might be exactly what our future clients are waiting for.