When I first heard about it, my reaction surprised me.
At my university, it was fraternity and sorority Formal season. Hordes of college students playing grown-up, in tuxes and dresses. An over-the-top pinnacle of college dating life.
One day a rumor spread through the houses: “Some girl is bringing another girl as her date!”
My reaction wasn’t awe or curiosity. It was jealousy. Not because I, too, wanted to bring a woman as a date. For me, that would come later in my life.
No, it was jealousy for something else: “She’s doing exactly what she wants to do, regardless of what anyone thinks.” Something I could never fathom.
I had been raised in the South, where I was highly trained in the art of, “How will others perceive you?” Now, in college, I was an insecure senior, tremendously worried what other people thought of me.
Well into adulthood, even into running my first business, I spent years worried about the same thing.
Thankfully, now I’ve overcome that, thanks to years of growth: coming of the closet, breaking off an engagement, lots of therapy, becoming a personal development junkie, and finding love.
But I was brought back to that time earlier this week, when I read a quote that hit me right in the feels:
“When you worry about what other people think of you, you will always be their prisoner.”
It’s absolutely true. During that time — my entire life until recently — I was a prisoner. Not just to what people thought of me, but what I worried that people were thinking about me.
It kept me from being happy, from being myself… and when I started my first business, it kept me from getting clients and making money.
Since I’ve overcome it, my revenue has quadrupled, but beyond simply money, I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing, working with clients who I absolutely adore.
But I talk to women every day who are still struggling with the same thing, with the same negative result.
They worry that people will think they’re salesy, so they don’t do anything to try and get clients.
They fear that they’ll annoy someone if they follow up on a proposal or an email, so they don’t follow up.
They worry that clients will think their prices are too high, so they keep them low. Or worse, they tell themselves, “It’s not about the money.”
With so much love, I want to tell these women: as long as you’re worried about what other people think, you’ll be a prisoner.
If you worry that your prospects will think you’re annoying if you follow up, you’ll be a prisoner to their time and attention. Your prospects are crazy busy, and they’re not going to stop the hundred things they’re doing to get back to you. Fortune is in the follow-up.
If you worry that you’ll be “too salesy” by actively building your sales pipeline, you’ll be a prisoner to the few clients who happen to find you. You’ll never have a full pipeline, which means you’ll never be able to choose your clients, charge the prices you want, or smooth out the feast/famine cycle.
If you worry that clients will say no if you actually charge what you want to be paid, then you’ll be a prisoner to low prices. You’ll never truly value your work or make as much income as you want to make.
What can you do instead? I’m not here to tell you “Girl, be more confident!”. This type of personal growth doesn’t come from Pinterest platitudes. You build it with years of practice.
But I can tell you what I tell every single one of my SIGNED students: you are in charge of your business.
Your scope of services isn’t determined by what other people come to you for. It’s determined by what you want to be doing. Then go find the clients who need that.
Your pricing isn’t determined by other people. It’s determined by what you want to charge. Then go find the clients who can pay it.
Your follow-up is because you know you can help someone, and you’re giving them a chance to get your help. Then go find the clients who value your help.
Start with what you want, then find the clients who fit your vision of the business you want to run, and the life you want to live. Only then will you have the business you want, and you won’t be a prisoner to anyone else.
Oh, and that quote I mentioned above? It’s from transgender rights activist Renee Imperato.
️ Happy World Pride, everyone! ️