I know it feels weird to say, “I’m an Expert”
But you are. Deal with it.
Nobody hands out “Expert” badges when you magically pass the invisible finish line of expert-hood. It just doesn’t happen.
So today, you will be earning your Official “With a K: Kickstander Merit Badge for Expertise and Guts in business.”
Let’s do this!
If you run a business, you are an expert already. Period.
You have a skill set that other people lack. You offer a service or a product that other people purchase from you – because you can do it and they can’t. Even if there are other people in your field who have been practising it longer than you (and unless you invented your field from scratch, there have to be people who have been in the field longer than you), you are still – by the nature of your existence as a business owner in that field – an expert.
I don’t know if it’s a gender socialization thing or a perceived thing, but I hear this from women more than anyone else. We have this deep-seated fear that people will somehow find out that we are a bunch of impostors – pretending to be good at what we do.
Well, that’s a bunch of crap. Seriously!
Don’t believe me? Mmmmmkay! You asked for it. I’m going to Windley you into submission, Friends. Read on and just try to tell me you aren’t an expert when you’ve finished.
How did you get here?
I’m willing to guess that if you are reading this post, it’s because you are at least thinking about starting a business – or even a blog for fun. You are here for writing tips or marketing tips or even just a bit of fun while you work on your own business. That’s cool!
What it means is this: you have a special set of skills or experiences that you would like to communicate to others. You can do things that other people cannot. You have skillz! Admit it.
(I read an article the other day that said using ‘Z’ instead of ‘S’, at the end of words will make me seem cooler…but I suppose mentioning that article might have ruined the effect. Thoughts?)
1. You’ve got expert skillz. Claim ’em!
Write down a list of 5 skills you have that you use in your business every day. Here’s an example list:
- Basic WordPress navigation and publishing skills (I mean skillzzz…because I am also very cool).
- Expert Researcher (I can learn like nobody’s business. It’s my jam).
- Idea sorting and categorizing (Give me ALL of the Venn diagrams!!).
- Certified (not that kind of certified) Teacher in English language and literacy.
- Writer-bot Extraordinaire (I lurv me some words, but you guys know that).
These are skills that lots of other people share with me. I’m not under any pretence that I am the only person who can manage to publish basic pages on my own WordPress site or learn or teach or write. I know that I am one of many people with these skills, but guess what? I have ’em too, and they are just as legitimate for me as they are for any other writer out there.
They are my skills, and I am the only person who employs them with my personality and specific experiences.
Repeat after me:
There is no reason for me to diminish my abilities because other people have abilities too. I love seeing other writers and teachers rocking their skills. It makes me feel like I am part of an awesome breed of teacher-writer-business-women, and I’m pumped to put that badge on myself.
Now make your list. Do it now, but not like you’re writing that skill section of a resumé. These should be skills that you particularly value and that you use often in the process of running your business: in creating the thing you create or offering the services you offer. This is all about the doing of your work; embrace your abilities!
Write them down and shout them out.
2. You’ve got expert talent. Claim it!
This one is trickier than skill-listing. We’ve been taught how to clearly define our skills on resumes since teenager hood, but talent is not as bullet-pointable as skills are.
For this one, I want you to remember all of the times you started learning a new thing and it came to you like it was already there waiting to wake up. Think about that project you did that ended up just clicking together in a way that even you didn’t expect. Imagine the time you got praise from someone you really respect for the way you did something cool.
I’m not talking about those talents you see on TV movies about overcoming the odds to follow your dreams. Being an artist, singer, dancer, writer, therapist, instructor, painter, designer or lawyer is not your talent.
I am a writer, but writing is not my talent, and I’ll tell you why.
There are a million ways to write, and a million people writing beautifully within their own writing-practice. That is what they are doing; it isn’t the fundamental spark that makes them shine within the world of writers.
My talent lies inside and around my writing and teaching skills. It’s about how I access the personality of the speakers I write for: my copywriting clients’ voices shine through in the way I write for them, my high school students’ writing skills get developed as individual voices rather than an homogenous murmur, and my coaching clients find a genuine way to share their own voices.
Words are delicious when they fall together naturally and comfortably, and I can’t tell you how much joy I get out of that clicking feeling of a perfect sentence coming together. I love it!
I love finding and helping others to find the words that make their own voices come alive; I love simplifying the hard parts, so that the natural parts of communication come though, and I love watching people finding their own strength in what they say.
That’s what makes it a talent, rather than a repackaged version of my skill-list: the way it makes me feel when I’m in the midst of using it.
You have that. You may need to think about it for a while before you can put it into words, but if you pay attention to the way you feel when you are in the middle of offering your service or creative product to people, you’ll start to recognize that spark and be ready to name it. It’s probably a whole messy web of different things, and it’s probably the coolest thing about your business – or it should be.
Claim it, baby! Take hold of that talent and grow it; call it out to the world and celebrate it. It’s a beautiful thing, and you better stop hiding it or pretending you don’t see it. Nobody really likes false modesty, so don’t bother with it.
Repeat after me (again):
Believe me yet? You should, because you had the guts to start this business, so you darn well better have the guts to stand up and claim your expertise.
You probably weren’t at the top of your field when you started; you may not be at the tippy top of the field now, but chances are that you are doing all kinds of awesome expert-like things in your business every day and you don’t even know it.
You are learning like an expert.
You read articles by other experts in your field and take information from experts in other fields and apply it to yours (you’re here, aren’t you?). You practise new ways of applying knowledge to your work and you probably take classes – online or in person – to boost your expertise too. You are a learning machine, and that is the first and foremost element of an expert, in my mind.
Keep doing that! I love it.
You are experimenting like an expert.
You think about your products and services all the time. You might even have seen that Pin for an in-shower notepad and thought, “Oh mama! I get so many amazing ideas in the shower!”. You wake up in the middle of the night, or pull over while driving, or interrupt your loved ones with “the most amazing idea” to help your customers get what they need.
You can’t help it. You’re an expert: an experimenting, learning, genius of an expert. Claim that, mama!
The most important thing though? You are doing the thing like an expert.
Clients are coming to you – YOU – to do this thing. They are asking YOU to crochet that baby snuggie, write that webpage, coach them to brilliance, paint that portrait, physio that back problem, photograph that wedding or paint that table. They are asking you to do something for them because YOU ARE THE EXPERT.
I can’t cut my hair. It would be a disaster if I tried, so I go to a hairdresser – and she always does an amazing job. Here’s the thing though: she wants to market her business better and always responds to my advice with a sheepish, apologetic sounding deflection of her expertise.
She happens to be a super close friend of mine, so I feel ok hollering at her – so I did! I told her that she knows everything about how to cut, style, dye and care for my hair as far as I’m concerned, and I come to her because of that. She doesn’t need a PHD or 75 years of experience to be an expert: she needs to know more than I do, and have my trust. She is an expert; she just has to get comfortable with it and claim it.
If you can teach me something new about a subject or offer me something I can’t (or won’t) create myself, you have expertise. Claim it, mama! Before I come over there and holler at you too. I’ll do it; I will.
So stop apologizing for offering people what they come to you for.
You can be trusted to give information, service and creations to your customers they will value. Stand up and say it out loud (last time; I swear):
Your homework? Figure out your most important skills and explore your realm of talents. Think about what it is that you are learning about and experimenting with, and claim that expertise. You wouldn’t have jumped into this wild and wooly world of business, if you didn’t have the guts to claim your expertise.
DO IT! Share your skills and talents in the comments below, and share this post with any other women in business you know. Let’s stand up unapologetically for our abilities, ladies.
I’m proud of you! You’ve officially earned your “With a K: Kickstander Badge of EXPERTISE and guts 🙂 You rock.