ASH AMBIRGE

Author, CEO & Founder

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“Oh Crap! What if I’m New At This + Don’t Have Any Testimonials?!”

In: Starting an Online Business

This is a really common question that a lot of new business owners ask, and you know why I think this is?

Because the minute we go into business for ourselves, you know what we all have the instinct to do? PUT OUR MASKS ON. Don’t we? We put those masks firmly upon our face and say: I am someone legitimate! I am a professional! I am worth spending money on! I am good enough! I promise, I am! (AND PLEASE DON’T CALL ME ON IT.)

But no, really, let’s laugh about this! Why do we do this to ourselves? It’s always the first thing that happens: we go from being normal, smart, educated human beings to feeling pressured into putting on this bigggggg giant fakery show, as if we’re suppose to:

Be way bigger than we are
Already be trazillionaires
Have an entire bible full of testimonials and happy clients
Have a yacht in the Mediterranean
Employ a nanny to paint our toenails
And BE BIGGER THAN LIFE ITSELF

Have you ever felt this pressure? This pressure to be so much “greater” than you are? Or the pressure to be way more advanced in your business right now—or else no one will dare trust you?

Here’s what I think. I think you should do whatever you can to avoid the “fake-it-til-you-make-it” reflex, and instead, try an approach that’s probably going to feel like a total breath of fresh air:

Permission to be exactly where you are in business.

But how do you get clients if they think that, perhaps, you’re a little green? You own it. But—you own it in a smart way. You don’t have to have mounds of testimonials—but what you *do* have to have is a sharp angle for doing what we’re doing, so you don’t seem amateur, but rather, up-and-coming. There’s a big difference there. Amateur vs up-and-coming.

Think about those two words. What’s the difference that you notice? One implies a negative, and the other implies a positive, doesn’t it? An amateur doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground. An up-and-coming, however, is someone with totally fresh talent and killer instinct. The way you're perceived has everything to do with the way you position yourself and your offering.

So if you’re standing up there on your website pedestal, offering these free 20 minute consults, trying to seem like you are already someone who is highly sought after (which, by the way, I’m of the opinion the free consult ruins), then, yes, of COURSE you would feel the pressure to have this entire backlog of important testimonials. Because what you’re saying you are, and what your experience proves you are, are not aligned. And that’s a problem. It’s a problem for you ethically, and it’s a problem for your testimonials, too.

So what if you didn’t? What if you stood right where you were and owned it? What if, for example, if you’re a writer, instead of offering generalized free consults in a very average way, you put together a really compelling offer that went along the lines of:

30 DAYS. 30 PAGES. $3,000 DOLLARS.

And what if you turned your brand new offer into an event? What if you turned it into a going-into-business sale? What if you stood up and rallied a group of people together, and created a buzz around your event? What if you said, proud and loud: I’m a former engineer who’s spent the last two years studying smart web design. And now, my new superpower is about to be released to the world this March. Specializing in the marriage of science and art, JANE DOE PRODUCTIONS is proud to spearhead the industry smart design. We’re not ready to accept a new docket of clients just yet, but we *are* launching a very special beta service, designed to help your website get smarter—while we do, too. If you want to be one of our very special crew—a gang of _____ and _____ and _______ [insert target market] looking to not only look better, but sell more this year, then let’s get your name on the books before Tuesday, when we'll get to work!

You see how this feels much more powerful, and in control, like you’re taking the lead—versus you hoping to bait and switch someone with a free 20 minute consult (which we all know aren’t reallllllllllllllly just out of the goodness of your own heart—even if you don’t do any selling, we all know what the purpose is. So does it make it any better?)

Bonus? You actually get paid—which is a really critical part of your business. A business without revenue is a non-profit, and I’m guessing that’s not what you’re trying to start. But you DO have to start somewhere. And maybe instead of going for free (and sending the message that “free” implies), you go for compact, and beta, and something that respects your experience exactly where you’re at—while giving you a chance to grow it.

Because the second bonus you’ll receive? Are actual clients. And by the time you’re done with the 30 days?

You’ll have those testimonials, too.

Feb 22

2015

The Smell of Desperation

Feb 22, 2015

You can smell the desperation. You see folks running sideways all over the internet trying to get noticed, be bigger, get heard. But there’s a simple truth that a lot of people forget: If your message is weak, no one’s going to care, no matter how loudly you parade yourself around. Have you ever had […]

In: Starting an Online Business

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Dec 4

2012

Finding Your Inner F-Bomb: What To Do When You’re Having a Hard Time Being You

Dec 4, 2012

So last night I did what any young lady would do whose internet has been down since Friday and, as a result, is staying in a randomly-selected hotel to mooch mega-bytes: Wondered what the fine would be for accidentally stealing one of these “firm” pillows–these things are fucking impressive. Side-kicked the air-conditioner upon discovering there […]

In: Starting an Online Business

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Aug 16

2017

Too Shy to Stand Up and Sing Your Own Praises? Start Here, You Humble Little Lovebug, You.

Aug 16, 2017

Someone tells you that you did a great job, and what’s the first thing coming out of your mouth? OH NO BIGGIE, BARB, IT WAS NOTHING, REALLY—NO WORRIES, LEAST I COULD DO! We’re quick to diminish our efforts because taking credit for all the things somehow feels self-important; braggy; boastful; full-of-herself. Do this enough times, […]

In: Starting an Online Business

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Jul 10

2014

What To Do When You Hire Them And…They Suck.

Jul 10, 2014

So you started a business and before you knew it you were regularly lip syncing to Gaga while kicking ass, taking orders, AND taking names—which, for the record, I hear is a mafia term. Isn’t that delightful? Suddenly, you found yourself with an extra $5 and immediately shouted to no one in particular, “I’m going to reinvest […]

In: Starting an Online Business

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Aug 5

2017

“My Brand is Boring As Fuck. With a Capital F.”

Aug 5, 2017

Andddddd it’s a wrap! We took The Cotswolds by motherloving storm this past week, as I led a cozy, intimate business retreat with five killer women in the English countryside, complete with fireside chats, darling little pubs, open-air picnics, tons of peppermint tea, and, of course, trekking around in our wellies through refreshingly moist meadows […]

In: Starting an Online Business

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