05 Mar Owning your value as a heart-centred entrepreneur
The question of what credentials I have to be a writing coach has come up lately. And of course, it’s a valid one, as I’m back in London after six years away, running my business in Norway. I’m networking with people who know nothing about me. So, it’s natural for them to want to get a sense of who I am.
Of course, I can rattle off my qualifications and experience. But with that has come something unspoken between the asker and me – and that’s: ‘what’s the REAL value of what I’m offering?’
At a networking event in the summer, an author couldn’t get his head round the fact that I teach creative self-expression. It was a strange and alien thing to an old-school author used to bashing out novels the old way. That is, the blood on the typewriter way. Writing by sheer force and determination.
And when you carve out a new path, one similar in ways to old established paths, but at the same time uniquely different, how do you truly own the value of that new path?
I understand sales and marketing techniques, benefits and features and much of the general received business advice that’s out there. I’ve had to, as I’ve run businesses and been self-employed in one way or another since 2002.
But for heart-centred entrepreneurs like myself, it’s not always easy to define the value of what you do in a throw-away one-liner. And I don’t believe that the traditional marketing and business advice is always applicable to us. Because our business is US. And it’s driven by the sheer force of our personalities.
Back in 2008, I had been running a tutoring business for two years. I was giving students one-to-one tuition in English literature and language. (But what I was really doing was teaching them to be more creative, so that they could apply writing techniques and use those to get good grades). I was fully-booked, with a long waiting list, and started to feel drained by it all.
I consulted a business coach about hiring some other tutors to share the load. But he told me categorically that my business worked because the students liked me. That I couldn’t replicate myself. But I didn’t really understand what he meant. I couldn’t see that the value in the business was ME. So, I went back into PR until I started my current business in 2012.
I started it while living in Oslo, while pregnant. I took my big belly to meetings with some of the biggest companies in town, sold in my workshops and delivered writing skills training. Clients would tell me that my writing workshops helped them to win news clients, communicate better with existing ones, and get more likes and shares. They told me that writing better meant that they could now communicate the value of what they did to shareholders and other stakeholders.
But at the same time, they told me that my REAL impact was in enabling them to get in touch with their creativity. And that that was the fuel that drove all the other successes.
So, really, I’m teaching something that is intangible. You can’t directly measure creativity and self-expression. And my work only works for people who are open to transformation. It’s all about me getting ‘in spirit’ and helping others to do the same. That’s why people say they feel ‘inspired’ after working with me.
Being creative and helping others be creative is how I’ve achieved success with students, business owners, creatives and everyone in-between. And I’ll hazard a guess that as a heart-centred entrepreneur, your value isn’t as simple as: ‘I’m an artist, a coach, a consultant, or an advisor’. It’s as though we try to find the words to describe something indescribable. Something that is felt and experienced in the liminal space between there and now.
Owning the true value of who you are, and what you do isn’t easy. I believe it’s about more than purpose or passion. Ultimately, it’s about trusting that the unique set of gifts you were given IS the value. And it’s about giving yourself as many opportunities as possible to use them in the world.