I’m 49 years old, have been self-employed my whole life and have avoided the “what do you do” question like the H1N1 virus! Until last week, if I found myself in a situation where I had to answer the question, I’d reply, “I’m a business coach” and change the subject.
The irony: since the early 90s, I’ve taught other self-employed folks how to talk about their work from a client-centered perspective, rather than talk about their credentials or job title.
And, I let myself off the hook. I rationalized that it took too many words to really describe the value of business coaching, much less the spiritual variety I offer. (I had other similar rationalizations for my previous businesses. You would think I might have noticed the pattern!)
I rationalized that I didn’t meet my clients at networking events. My clients tend to hire me after they read something I’ve written or heard me speak at a meeting or conference. So, they knew about me – I didn’t need an “elevator speech.” Has anyone ever actually met a client on an elevator?!?
Well, last week, I decided once and for all that I wanted an elevator speech anyway. Because I wanted to be in integrity with this. Because it would help me understand exactly the value of what I offer. Because my own business coach and mentor challenged me!
Of course, in that powerful decision moment, all the stars aligned and it tumbled out of me.
“I teach business owners clarity and confidence about themselves and their businesses so they’re happier and more successful.”
I feel so excited to tell you what I do! Since I wrote that, I’ve asked several people to ask me what I do, just so I can say it and refine it!
What allowed it to tumble out of me now, after it had eluded me all these years?
First, I used a new verb. In the past, I’ve used the verb “help” instead of “teach.” I’ve been owning the teaching aspect of me more since I took the Strong Life test.
No surprise, the test indicated my strongest life role is Teacher. I love to teach. I get excited about teaching. Another role in the assessment is Caretaker, which reminds me of “helping.” I don’t like the idea of Caretaker. I don’t feel strengthened by the thought of helping like I do by the thought of teaching. This may seem like a small distinction, but it’s been huge for me. On a scale of 1 to 10, I am excited about teaching at the level of 9. Helping feels like a 4 to me! No wonder I wanted to avoid the conversation . . .
Secondly, over and over and over again, my clients tell me that our work together gives them clarity and confidence. That’s important to them. They love to keep working together because they value on-going clarity and confidence. Yet, that never seemed like the bottom line to me. Usually, my clients want to get more clients and make more money. A former stab at an elevator speech for me might have sounded like, “I help business owners get more clients and make more money.” Yuck! That’s a 3 for me on a scale of 1 to 10.
It’s a true statement. Yet, so cliché. And, it doesn’t say how (via clarity and confidence). And, many other coaches promise the same. How does a potential client discern?
Third, “ . . . clarity and confidence about themselves and their businesses . . . ” People often come to me thinking the business is the issue. They aren’t usually aware that all business problems are people problems. As my clients gain clarity and confidence about themselves, the business issues are naturally addressed as well. So, my new elevator speech addresses where they think the problem is (the business) and where I know the solution is (the business owner).
And finally, as I have worked with so many clients, I’ve noticed they want to be happy and successful. They don’t actually want to just make more money. They want to make it in a way that feels good, fun and meaningful to them!
Now it’s your turn. How can you use my clues to create or tweek your elevator speech until you cannot wait to ride more elevators?
Post yours in the comments section here. I’d love to share lots of examples on a Thriving Coaches roundtable.