What does authenticity in business look like?
Valid question. Recently I was getting some new headshots done as part of sprucing up our company web presence (remedying a typical cobbler’s kids with no shoes type situation). The photographer was looking through my closet for wardrobe options and asked, “Don’t you have anything with a little more, well…structure?” I think she meant maybe a blouse with a collar, or a snazzy little jacket. The quick answer? Nope. I like colour, and things that flow and have asymmetrical design, and are comfortable but pretty and look nice in a skype window. Buttoned shirts? Nary a one will be found in my closet.
I know that about myself, and my approach to business. And yet, how did I react to her question? Panic. I don’t really have businessy clothes. I don’t really look like a businessy person… What if no one takes me seriously? What if people won’t want to work with me? And what if…and what if…?
And then the part of me who is a real smart lady took over and called bullshit on those thoughts. I’ve been in business for almost 20 years, and have built a rockin’ team in a rapidly growing company. Clearly what I have been doing is working.
How not being authentic can hurt you?
Me in a button-up collared shirt would amount to nothing more than false advertising. I’m not a button-up, collared shirt kind of gal, and I don’t run a button-up shirt kind of company, as most of my clients will attest to. Yes, I look polished when I show up to meetings. But a suit? Nope. People talk about how at Crystal Clear Solutions we’re approachable. Friendly. Creative. Out-of-the-box thinkers. We get stuff done. Often in ways and on timelines that seem magical to our clients. We get rewarded with unicorns and other magical creatures for completed tasks (Asana, it’s ah-may-zing). [link asana URL: https://app.asana.com/]
We like to do things a little differently, and that’s why the clients we have love us. Well, that and we do good work. They know exactly what they’re getting when they sign on with us, and that everyone who is part of our creative team is 100% their awesome selves when they do their work. That means instead of spending our energy on looking a certain way, or representing ourselves as something we’re not, we’re able to focus ALL of our energies on what we’re doing.
How can authenticity help you build your business?
- People feel that you are real, and that you walk your talk. They get what they are expecting, and your business “makes sense” when you are congruent in all the areas of your work.
- You’ll have more energy for the actual work. Seriously, the amount of energy that it takes to maintain a “persona” or be something other than what you are is exhausting. Save your energy for what matters.
- People who aren’t a good fit will be screened out before you get to the stage where you can disappoint each other. That means your chance of keeping all your clients happy clients is greatly improved.
- You will feel good about what you’re doing, and that will come through in the work. Whatever makes you, you and got you started in this industry in the first place is valuable and needs to be fostered.
- As you grow and change, so will your business. The result? Things will always feel fresh, and new, and you’ll feel free to pursue whatever lights you up because you’re not tied to a stale identity.
Ask yourself: is there anything you could change, adjust, or focus on to bring more authenticity to your business or work situation? I’m curious. Tell us about what authenticity looks like to you, in your work.