Don’t Hide your Light…

Last week I looked at the ability to stand outside yourself: to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and look at your business from a totally different point of view.

A lot of us find that difficult. But from talking to clients, potential clients and friends there’s something that us shy, retiring Brits find even more difficult – and that’s promoting ourselves and our businesses.

A friend of mine is in the running for an award at the moment. Out of 4,000 nominations he’s through to the final five – and he’d like to win. To do that he has to get the most votes. Simple. Or is it? You know what, Ed? I just hate asking people to vote for me. It makes me feel really uncomfortable. If they like what I do then, great, vote for me. But asking for votes makes me feel seriously uneasy.

I suspect a lot of us can empathise with that. Blowing your own trumpet (what a gloriously old fashioned phrase) isn’t something that comes naturally to many of us.

The problem is that whether it comes naturally or not, it needs to be done. You are not just CEO, MD, Accounts Department, Credit Control, Stock Controller, Purchasing Manager and – occasionally – tea boy. You are also Chief Cheerleader.

No-one else will ever care about your business like you do, and if you don’t spread the word, then who will?

As my first sales manager used to say, “They’re out there, Ed. But none of them are going to come and knock on your office door and ask to buy something.” And as that other icon of the sales industry put it, “Don’t hide your light under a bushel, Edward.” Thanks, Granny.

I wrote a post some time ago called The Shy Entrepreneur. I made the point that social media – through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogging – makes it very easy to tell your story. The problem is that they make it almost too easy – so there’s a temptation to stay in your nice, cosy office thinking that posting an update or a link is enough. As we saw last week, it isn’t.

So what can you do to have the confidence to promote your business – without turning into the bloke everyone dreads: the one who pins you in the corner and drones on incessantly about his widget company.

I think the answer is very simple, and when I see a friend or a client ‘get’ this it’s one of the most rewarding moments in my business life.

The answer is to believe. To believe that your product or service is genuinely outstanding – that it offers your clients the very best that is available. Because let me tell you, from what I know of Board members and the other people that read this blog, it is.

We all have moments of doubt – and I include myself in that. There were times when I’d just set up the business and I was running round desperately seeing people and even more desperately trying to put the first Board together when I wouldn’t have been human if I didn’t have doubts.

But do I now believe that TAB York offers an outstanding service? Emphatically. And yes, you can go out there and you can find cheaper peer support groups: if you look hard enough, you can find a cheaper anything. But can you find a peer support group with the commitment to excellence, the consistent delivery and outstanding fellow Board members? No, you can’t. And I’m proud of that.

We all know the famous saying: successful people do the things unsuccessful people don’t like doing. That’s absolutely correct – and of those key things is promoting themselves and their business. It has to be done, ladies and gentlemen – and quietly, confidently and consistently, you’re the person to do it.



  1. tommortonharrogate · March 22, 2013

    Excellent post, Ed.

    As John Ruskin said, “there is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price alone are this man’s lawful prey”.

  2. tabderby · March 22, 2013

    I love this. Value provided should be the basis for pricing policies. This can be helped by ‘banging our drum louder’ so we are heard. If a business owner cannot be prepared to make noise about themselves then no one else will.

    • Chris Wilson · March 23, 2013

      Great post as usual Ed.

      Always a reminder to us that at some point, sometimes due to reasons beyond our control, customers will move on.

      Worse though is when you lose a client because someone else is more tenacious, more innovative or more persuasive that you are. No matter how big your cake is, someone else always wants a piece of it. Keep communicating, keep innovating, keep searching, it should be a constant part of your growth.

  3. Justin Hyam · April 4, 2013

    Great blog Ed,
    I remember a quote from Zig Zigglar which I still use today! “Business is never good or bad out there, it’s only ever good or bad between your ears!” It so true. We’re in the middle of one of the worst recessions of our time, yet there are still entrepeneurs making millions today, so the business is definately there.
    I may not have made my millions yet, but my pub has just posted the best 1st 1/4 figures for 5 years, and I don’t think I’m pushing myself or my team to the limit, there’s so much more to do, and so much growth to exploit.

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