For well over a year, we self-employed professionals have largely been wrapped in a home-based cocoon. Yes, many of us have continued to serve clients, sometimes even in person. But we’ve also spent a whole lot of time on Zoom. An entire category of business marketing has been absent – no in-person conferences, workshops, networking meetings, lunches, or coffee dates.
If you’ve been having trouble emerging from your pandemic business cocoon, welcome to the club!
Lots of people are feeling the same way (including me). We’re having thoughts like: I don’t know where to start with marketing my business again. Or, I feel like I don’t know how to talk to people anymore. Or, I don’t want to leave my cave.
A year of pandemic life has taken its toll on all of us. At February’s Pandemic Office Hours, our virtual room full of self-employed professionals described feeling stressed, or even immobilized, about marketing their businesses. Since then, I’ve been noticing reports everywhere about how much this past year of stress, uncertainty, and grief has sapped our collective focus and motivation.
Why is marketing your business so hard right now? Chances are over this past year (if you’re like me and the clients and colleagues I speak with), you’ve felt shy, hesitant, and vulnerable in ways you ordinarily don’t when it comes to marketing your business. Given the pandemic, and the uncertainty it’s created, this makes complete sense.
In 2020, many of us self-employed folks were just trying to survive. Some of us couldn’t work at all due to pandemic restrictions or home schooling needs. Others – serving industries like travel, food service, or personal care – lost our entire market overnight.
If you’re like many of the self-employed people I’ve talked with over the past year, 2020 came with plenty of challenges that sent you scrambling and doing your best to hang on. Survival became the order of the day, and making it through another day, week, or month felt like a victory (and rightfully so).
We humans are endlessly creative at finding paths to get in our own way. Even the most well-adjusted, self-aware people struggle with internal obstacles that keep them from being as effective or productive as they would like.
Last year was quite a year, and it’s left me with the question of what holds me back -– beyond a pandemic, of course.
As a long-time business owner, there are plenty of things I could list: negative self-talk, faulty assumptions, out-of-date self-image…
As I write this, 2020 is almost over. Hooray! And… it’s very likely that you didn’t accomplish all you set out to do this year. If you did meet your goals or even surpass them, you deserve extra credit. But if you didn’t, read on. (And join the club.)
What can I say — 2020 turned out to not be the year most of us were looking forward to. Which begs the question, what does success look like when things have changed so much?