Sunday, 7 September 2014

"When You Are Your Authentic Self, You Have No Competition"

I read this quote from Scott Stratten when I first started my business last year, and have repeated it in my mind faithfully when I start to doubt myself and the moves I am making.

How do you stick out among so many painters that seem to be multiplying by the day? When I feel like I am starting to drown in the sea of Robin's Egg Blue, I remind myself that if I remain true to my own style and my own technique, I do not have any direct competition.

Does that mean everyone will love my style? Most definitely not! But it does mean that those who do, will appreciate and recognize it for what it is - something unique to me.

To be quite honest with you, I have no idea how I ended up here! I often get asked by other painters starting out, or someone wanting to learn about the business, how did I get this far in such a short time? I don't credit myself in any way other than to say that I work non-stop (6am until 12am usually!), and I try to put as much of MYSELF into my business as I possibly can. I don't try to imitate techniques that I don't personally like, or that I wouldn't want to put in my own house.

On the odd occasion I get to step out of my comfort zone for a custom project, or because I'm looking to shake it up, but it is always with the understanding that it will have my own flare on it. I do certain colours and finishes because I WANT to, not because that's what I think I have to do to sell more furniture.

Customer relations is also extremely important to me - have I ticked people off? For sure! (a small percentage though I should say!). Not everyone is happy with me all of the time, but for the most part, I have had such wonderful dealings with clients, and that is what inspires me to get up every day and continue on this crazy journey.

I remember one day a few months ago, I had one of the worst dealings with a client who was upset with me over something I could not control. After some of her harsh words hit me, I broke down in tears, not knowing really what else to do. After a good cry by myself in my car, I tried to brush it off and get back to work.

A little while later a client came to pick up a desk - not knowing anything about what had just happened, she started telling me that she thought I was so good with people and conveyed such passion, and that she would only want to deal with me when buying painted pieces. I was so flattered and thought that if this stranger felt that about me, surely I was doing something right.

Now when I start to feel worn down, I remember that woman and the lesson I learned that day - being authentic is one of the best ways to connect with people that don't really get to see me face to face; who only know my Facebook persona, who may not know the doubt, fear, and insecurity I may feel behind this screen.

I believe with Facebook and business, you need to keep certain things to yourself, but being open and honest with my very personal struggles with depression and anxiety have allowed me to reach out and connect with so many more people than I would have otherwise. Being my authentic self, my heart-on-my-sleeve-self, has allowed me to celebrate achievements not only privately, but with all of you as well.

Business is not all rosey, and sometimes I have to go against my grain and draw some lines in the sand, but overall I think more businesses should realize that you don't have to pretend to be something you are not - people want to connect to PEOPLE, not marketing machines. If a customer likes YOU they are more likely to return again and again.

Let's tear down some walls and create professional relationships that allow clients to see your human side - the balance between showing professional confidence and personal vulnerability is a fine one, but if you can manage to walk that line I assure you that the business will follow.

Thanks for reading,

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