What you do is not new. The internet is filled with people who offer the same services you do.
And this can feel discouraging.
From time to time you may think, “Why do I bother? Why should people hire me when they can work with someone who’s a bigger deal?”
You need to understand that even though customers have lots of options, you are the exact person some people need to work with.
A true story to help you overcome business self-doubt and insecurity...
A few weeks ago I received a call from my youngest son’s eighth-grade algebra teacher.
Quinn was flunking the class. And there were two weeks left in the school year.
The thing is, until this year, Quinn had always loved math. In fact, he has consistently excelled in his advanced classes.
You see…Quinn came into this world an engineer—fascinated by how things go together.
I’ve seen him create elaborate movie-quality costumes out of foam floor tiles. One time, when he was eight, he sculpted a bust of Batman as the form for a latex mask that ended up looking so realistic my neighbor thought he was some kind of kid genius. Another time, he became so fascinated by the art of puppet-making, that he studied and taught himself how to create Sesame Street quality Muppets. And then there was the day I could barely nudge his bedroom door open because he’d created a full-size, cardboard canoe...just because.
If you need detailed fairy garden furniture built to scale, he’s on it.
If you need a complicated IKEA bed frame assembled, he’s your man.
Numbers, puzzles, building, precision…they’re his thing.
And yet, he was flunking algebra. A subject he used to love.
“I just can’t learn from Ms. Hunter,” he said.
His eyes turned frustrated and hot.
“I’m so embarrassed by my algebra grade. I just can’t learn this stuff anymore.”
I was stunned.
We all sprung into action.
I called Ms. Hunter.
Quinn could raise his grade, but he’d need to do well on the cumulative test.
My 15-year-old daughter called her study buddy bestie, Jenna, to see if she’d want to help tutor her brother.
By the next afternoon, Quinn, Jenna, and Isabel were gathered around the kitchen table working on quadratic equations together.
Watching the process unfold was interesting.
At the beginning of his first session, Quinn looked tense and unhappy.
But this didn’t seem to phase Jenna.
She told stories about mistakes she makes all the time and how she finds and fixes them.
She shared how she talks to herself in her head as she works out problems and how it helps her remember all the steps.
She watched him work and when he’d goof, she’d tell him how good it is to make mistakes because then he didn’t have to guess about what he needed to improve.
She gave him practice sheets to work on and her cell phone number to call anytime he got stuck.
She was relaxed and funny. Her personality and approach demystified quadratic equations so they no longer seemed intimidating or hard.
Quinn opened up.
He looked forward to his algebra tutoring sessions.
When he asked questions, Jenna listened and explained things in ways he could relate to.
She shared tricks he’d never heard of and challenged him in ways that were fun and joyful rather than serious and stressful
She taught him the same material as Ms. Hunter. The exact same material. But she taught it differently.
She taught it her way.
And you know what?
My son loves algebra again.
The night before his test he told me, “I feel invincible, mom. I feel like I could do any math problem. I get this. I really get this!”
He was so excited to take his exams.
His final grade bumped way up to B.
The other cool thing? Jenna had been thinking about starting a tutoring business and her experience working with Quinn motivated her to move forward with her idea.
Not only does she have a repeat client (we plan to keep her on speed-dial as Quinn goes into high school next year), but I also sing her praises because I think every stressed-out, mathematically challenged kid should have the opportunity to learn from her.
What if Jenna hadn’t shown up?
What if she’d held back and let us suffer because she thought she needed to get more experience or appear like a bigger deal before she could make a difference in someone’s life.
What if she’d told herself, “There are people and businesses that are experts at this, how can I possibly compete with them?”
What if she’d convinced herself she needed to have everything figured out with her business idea before jumping in and simply trying?
Jenna may not realize this, but because she showed up with her personable, relaxed approach to algebra, she made a profound impact in Quinn’s life. She did more than teach him how to do quadratic equations. She empowered his resilience, creative problem-solving, and confidence.
Now he sees expanded possibilities where he used to feel frustrated and stuck.
Whether you’re a photographer, gift shop owner, massage therapist, consultant, electrician, speaker, coach, graphic designer, musician—you will have that effect on someone too.
You may use the same tools and offer the same types of services, but your perspective, experience, personality, and approach are the exact things that make working with you so incredibly perfect for certain people.
Even if you’re new to the game.
Even if there are others who offer similar services.
Even if you’re not as slick and polished and so and so.
Even if you don’t have every detail about your business figured out.
The cure for business insecurity is simple.
Show up and sprinkle everything you do with a refreshing uniqueness that can only come from you.