Being terribly British is bad for business

Being successful in self-employed consultancy has a lot of challenges, but something that frequently holds people back is a tendency most of us have in this country of being terribly British.

What I mean by that is things like not wanting to blow our own trumpet, avoiding talking about ourselves or doing anything that might come across as boastful or similar. We often don’t like self-promotion, and worry about annoying people or being too in-your-face. But the problem is, if we aren’t going to shout about ourselves, who else is going to do it? People who know and trust you, absolutely. But you need to do it too. It’s ok to talk about what you do and how good you are at it. If you’re doing it in a marketing context, such as on social media or at a networking event, it is expected and accepted. Don’t go mad and be constantly salesy, but blowing your own trumpet is fine.

Linked to that is imposter syndrome, which most people suffer from at some point. “Can I really do this?” “I’m not good enough”, “I don’t know enough” – all of those thoughts go through our heads. But lacking confidence in our abilities and our value shows, and it can affect our sales. If we don’t come across as being confident that we know what we’re doing, how can we expect a client or a potential referrer to have that confidence?

We also often feel (and act) very apologetic about pricing. Sometimes people start undermining their value by perhaps apologising for a fee being high (even if the client has given no indication they think it is), or we look at a fee we are planning to ask for and think it ‘looks’ too high so reduce it, again before a client has raised any objection.

Similarly, we often under-describe what we are going to do. This is because it’s all obvious to us. If you’re an experienced HR professional and you are putting together a proposal for managing a redundancy exercise for a client, it’s dead easy to you, you’ve done it loads before. Which is great, but it probably means you miss off half the stuff you’ll actually be doing when you put together your proposal. Don’t miss anything out. Go through in your mind exactly what you’ll need to do. Include everything, and then when you’re putting together the proposal, make sure you give plenty of detail of exactly what you’ll be doing. Then your fee will look like a bargain!

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