People-oriented entrepreneurs are a special breed of business owners. They’ve built their companies on the foundation of personal connections, strong relationships, and the ability to close deals. Unlike other business owners who find success from sitting behind a screen, relationship-driven ones find success because of their innate ability to read a room, connect with people on a personal level, and make deals happen through smarts and sheer force of personality.
While their personalized touch has been key to their success so far, it can become a liability as they try to expand and reach a wider audience. And retooling one’s message strategy isn’t easy. Especially for a relationship-focused entrepreneur. The process of learning new communication skills and implementing new tools can bring up some unexpected resistances because for many entrepreneurs, work is both business and personal. And, at first glance, scalable communication practices feel impersonal.
So, with this article, I’d like to invite you into the minds of your fellow people-oriented entrepreneurs (aka my clients) so that you can see and learn from their common points of resistance and the misconceptions they had to overcome to unlock message strategies that facilitated growth and also maintained connection with their core audience.
One of the biggest hurdles people-oriented entrepreneurs face is their proximity to their own message. Because they’ve built a businesses around personal connections and individualized attention, they struggle to see opportunities to streamline and scale. It’s like trying to read the label from inside the bottle.
A Love for the Extemporaneous
People-oriented entrepreneur’s love of dynamic conversations. They thrive on reading the room, reacting to feedback, and engaging in lively discussions with potential customers, partners, and stakeholders. And so, the idea of being “boxed in” by processes and procedures is unappealing.
A Misconception About of Scaling Everything
For people-oriented entrepreneurs, their business is a part of themselves. They’ve poured their heart and soul into building their company. And so, scalable practices feel impersonal or even cold. They may balk at the idea of standard operating procedures (SOPs) or other systems that could help streamline sales and operations because it feels like it takes away from the personal touch that’s been central to their success.
So, what can people-oriented entrepreneurs do to overcome these potential limiting beliefs and scale their businesses without sacrificing their personalized touch?
Below are some perspectives and practices that have helped my clients “get out of their own way” so that they could finally unlock a scalable message strategy that met their needs and objectives.
Find Your Reflection
If you find yourself trying to read the label from inside the bottle, get an outside perspective – someone who can reflect things back to you. Reflections can come in all different shapes. Friends and colleagues can be great. Mastermind groups come in handy. Experienced coaches are arguably a must. And even a Morning Pages practice can help you gain new perspectives.
Track the “Organic”
An ethos of the people-oriented entrepreneur goes something like: “It would be so difficult for me to ‘mass produce’ what I do because the conversations I have with people are so organic.” Of course, there’s truth in that. And also, conversations aren’t as organic as one might perceive.
Subconsciously, they repeat certain phrases they know land well their ideal clients. They’ve field tested talking-points over the years. Scaling your personal processes (and flair) starts by paying attention to what has become second nature. Write down your “field notes” after a networking event, sales call, or catching up with a colleague. This will help you gain clarity on what’s working well. Then, the next step is to match your style and message to the right media throughout your client outreach and onboarding processes.
Quality Control Over Total Control
Let’s be honest. Not all bottlenecks can be blamed on logistics. For many people-oriented entrepreneurs, handing off parts of their work is uncomfortable, or even scary. In which case, it helps to remember that quality control is better than total control. Staying convinced that “it’s just better if I do it,” leads to burn out – which can make the entire business suffer. And so, it helps to find spots in your processes where you can check in and do quality control instead of defaulting to total control.
Keep the Fun Parts, Scale the Rest
Please remember that a scalable message strategy can look a lot of different ways. Scaling doesn’t mean that everything has to scale. Scaling doesn’t inherently mean giving up the fun stuff or missing out on the relationship part of your processes. In fact, scaling should make space and give you more time to do what you find fun, and let someone else (or a bot) handle the rest. With all of the media outlet options, a message strategy can undoubtedly adapt to you and your goals.
There are so many ways to infuse scalable communication practices without detaching from the fun of relationship-building. One of the best things about being an entrepreneur is that you get to make up the rules – and that includes your sales, marketing, client experience and content strategies. You can make it work for you. Try out the ideas in this article and see what scalable opportunities start revealing themselves to you.