Over the past 8 years in business there has been a lot of lessons for me personally, but one thing I’ve observed over time is that some entrepreneurs are completely unwilling to offend the masses by speaking the truth.
Now, this is a very different game than attempting to be edgy or disruptive for the sake of attention – I’m talking about intentionally softening your speech and opinions as to avoid offending someone and generating backlash.
And, honestly? It’s killing your business.
We are naturally attracted to opinionated people
Quick, name one judge from the X-Factor, The Voice, American Idol or America’s Got Talent!
More than 50% of you just thought “Simon Cowell” and not because he’s been on most of the judging panels.
People think of Simon because he has a clear opinion about what’s good and what’s terrible and he’s not afraid to say so. No matter how you align yourself with his opinion, he is the benchmark.
(And, I would argue, creating drama around good/badness of an act is part of the marketing strategy on shows like this.)
Does anyone want to read an article from someone who lost 3 lbs in a month or watch a reality show about a normal family with no drugs, dangerous jobs or beauty pageant contestants?
No. Because unique and opinionated SELL.
Again, you may hate Toddlers and Tiara but the show perpetuates the opinion that this is a great hobby for little girls.
You may despise the opinion but at least you know where they stand.
It does not serve you to play it safe
We typically hear about the businesses that stand out by taking a stand. Like the graphics shop that bans the use of Comic Sans or the restaurant that doesn’t give you a menu but serves a prefix menu that you can’t adapt.
While it may feel a little too “take it or leave it” there’s value in planting your flag and letting all those who agree to come your way.
One way many entrepreneurs play it safe is to do a little of everything, enabling their clients to set the agenda and services instead of taking charge. While you might think that it’s catering to your client’s needs it’s really wimping out and playing safe.
Rise above the drama
As a former debate student, I well know the tendency to argue for the sake of arguing, whether it was over the best pens, laptops, books, housing options… nothing was off limits.
But if you only have one “rant” in you – one position which you can defend you don’t want to waste your time on petty.
What counts as petty totally depends on you & your business.
Bottled water might be a minor thing to you but to a charity raising money for clean water in underdeveloped nations, your daily water bottle habit could be a donation for a village to get clean water.
Pens might be those things you buy in bulk and throw in the bottom of your bag but to a calligraphy artist designing handmade wedding invites the pen is the best investment you can make.
Your goal is not to choose what everyone will find important or find the stand that will get the most people behind you.
Your goal is to state what you believe to be important and persuade others to join you.
And it’s gotta be relevant to your business.
Because sure you might love Ramen as the perfect food, hate Game of Thrones and wish everyone lived in a city and commuted by bike to work but if you’re a lawyer… who cares? I’d much rather hear why every single parent needs guardianship papers drawn up before their child is 6 months old.
You may adore crocheted hats, want everyone to adopt instead of breeding pets, support a vegan lifestyle and always paint your walls white but unless you’re a crafter, animal activist, food writer or decorator no one is going to care.
You can still include these bits of your personality in your personal brand by sharing on social media, for example, they’re just not well suited for your business stand.
After all, do you want someone to discount you as their web developer because you made your love for scuba diving so central to your brand they can’t accept one without the other?
What do you stand for? How will you communicate it with your audience?