It can be really scary to recognize that you can't do things the way everyone else does and you really don't want to, even if it "works." It just feels wrong, like you are denying your authentic self. This trait can be seen as obstinate, rebellious, insubordinate or stubborn. But I think it's simply being genuine and true to yourself when you don't think like everyone else.
If you are an entrepreneur in the online world, like myself, there are hundreds of marketing and branding coaches who promise you a 6 figure online business in 6 months if you follow their 6 step formula. I must admit, the first few times I saw these claims, I was impressed and even though they might be true.
After seeing these pitches repeatedly over the last few years, I have become a bit cynical. It's not just that in reality, only about 3% of the people who fork over their hard-earned money to make it to the Promised Land on the promised path and timeline, it's that it seems like everybody in the online world does exactly the same thing, to the letter. Their websites all look alike, their sales copy is identical, their email sequences, offers, and claims for amazing outcomes, all exactly the same. Doesn't anybody want to go their own way, just a little off the beaten trail, or even carve a new path altogether?
I can't think of anything more boring than having your own business by following someone else's formula to a T. You might as well buy a franchise if you want a biz-in-a-box. Now, there's nothing wrong with franchises, if that is what you want, but for many of us, the lure of being your own boss is the freedom and opportunity to create exactly what you want right down to the Hex codes of your brand colors.
How much conformity and repetition did you have to endure in your corporate life before taking the entrepreneurial leap? How much mind-numbing and uselessly monotonous routine and utter pointless bureaucracy did you have to withstand in order to find freedom through self-employment?
And now you are the captain of your own ship. Congratulations! Only, you will quickly discover that there are literally hundreds of decisions to make and hats to wear, even in the smallest business with the most simple business model. It can quickly feel overwhelming and we soon hunger for someone, anyone to just tell us what to do, just like, dare I say it, a Boss would.
Yeah, there it is. The painful truth. For most of us, the pull toward entrepreneurship has got more to do with not wanting someone else to be our boss than it does with wanting to be our own boss. Being our own boss means accepting 100% of the responsibility for everything, the stuff that works out, and the stuff that flops. If that sounds scary AF, but also exciting, you're on the right path. Keep going.
Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that all the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to go out on your own to become a solopreneur will hardly feel rewarded by a copy cat business. Isn't part of the thrill of self-employment testing out your very own ideas to see if they work? The truth is when it comes to being original, not all ideas are good. In fact, some of them just suck. But that's part of the adventure. You can't always tell which ones will be the winners until you test them out. Wanting to skip the brainstorming and testing phases and just copying someone else will be cheating yourself out of so much of the fun of being your own boss. And, I really hope that you, like me, didn't just go into your own business to make money but to have fun doing it.
I might be crazy, but after you've got just a little bit of financial stability under your belt and get past thinking you are going to die if everything you do doesn't turn out to be a winner, you start to see that being in business for yourself can feel like the most fun game you've ever played. "Will my customers or clients like this version of my product or this other one?" "Can I sell more of this group program or this one on one program?" "Do they want audio or video formatted content?" can replace worries about solvency and security, the kind that prevents us from more creative thinking because survival mode always does.
That's when things get good and we need to switch into possibility thinking and creative problem-solving. The truth is, there are people who just want the best price or the most convenient and they really don't give two shits about who they are doing business with, who the person behind the product or service is. But, in this great big connected, but the increasingly disconnected world, more and more of us are interested in knowing the face or faces behind the brand.
We are turning away from giving our money and loyalty to huge, impersonal corporations in favor of small, even micro-businesses, owned and run by people that make us care about them and want to do business with them. They don't create this level of connection and loyalty by being just like everyone else. They attract and retain our business by being uniquely them, standing out from the sea of sameness, and showing up as their authentic selves.
I want to support those businesses, and I want to be one too. How about you?