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.

May 30

2014

Is Your Package Big Enough?

May 30, 2014

Confess. You’re reading this because the title made you think of male genitalia. (…And now you’re thinking about how weird the word “genitalia” sounds.) I know, I know. I tried to avoid it, but really, I can’t. Because today’s tip is about packaging your service or product offerings, so why be modest? I’m not even […]

In: Starting an Online Business

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Feb 18

2016

An Ode to the Internet’s Worst Business Advice

Feb 18, 2016

A person, going into business for themselves for the first time: How can I get found? The Internet: Start a newsletter! Person: What, like a weekly bulletin? The Internet: No, like a newsletter. Person: So, like, write a bunch of updates about me, me, and me? The Internet: Yeah! A newsletter! Person: Every week? The […]

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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Feb 7

2014

Just The Tip: Nobody Wants Your Free Goodies

Feb 7, 2014

Alright, it’s time we had a talk about your goodies. I’ve seen free goodies being offered all over the internet for year after (painful) year, and I really have to wonder: Are they honestly as good as Ciara’s? Kidding. We both know that’s impossible. Have you seen her abs? Regardless, if you’ve ever caught yourself writing, “Sign up […]

In: Starting an Online Business

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Nov 30

2012

The $2,000 Offer to LEAVE a Company

Nov 30, 2012

When I was hired as Director of PR for AWeber, the VP of Operations called me into his office two weeks after I had started, and offered me $2,000 to leave the company. “You’ve been here two weeks now,” he started, “and you probably have a good idea if this is a place you’re going […]

In: Starting an Online Business

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Oct 6

2011

Entrepreneurs + Marriage: Possible? Or Possibly Hopeless?

Oct 6, 2011

Marriage scares the *#$^!&*(±*@&%^$*#@(±!!)!)!%&@# out of me. As a matter of fact, it scares me so much, there should really be some of these in there: ¡¿¡¿ (For once, buying my Macbook in South America, and having the corresponding Spanish keyboard, paid off. Look at that sexy upside down punctuation! You like them papayas? Do ya? […]

In: Starting an Online Business

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I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

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