How to Be Yourself in Business

bonkedproducerOne of the many challenges entrepreneurs and small businesses face is figuring out how to balance the personal and impersonal.

Your small business depends on your personal self-confidence and on sharing your individual talents, skills, and personality. People do business with you because you are you; you have earned their Like for whatever reason. Look around at the successful entrepreneurs you know: most have noticeable personalities; at least, they are not shrinking wallflowers. To work independently, you need a good measure of chutzpah and style.

On the other hand, too much personality can work against your best efforts in business relations. Management and customer service always require a certain equanimity, an easygoing attitude in terms of relationships. And if you want to find customers, you’re careful to be as unoffensive as possible. Most of us have had that desire to be all things to all people, even though we know it’s impossible. We want everyone to like us, and that often translates into stifling our personality more than sharing it.

The result of the tension between wanting to share your true self and wanting to be universally acceptable is that we often present an artificial personality: one that oozes friendliness and generosity; a demeanor that’s always politically and socially correct, or at least perfectly attuned to the prevailing scene. Which is fine as long as we can maintain it. Unfortunately, sooner or later primal needs kick in and the false personality crumbles.

Some of us are natural capitalists, but the rest of us have to learn the kind of expressions that are uniquely required in the business world. These skills aren’t taught in schools!

There’s a balance of personal and professional voices that is achieved before lasting business  success takes hold. We learn to set our boundaries, so that niche, target market, and personality can best harmonize. We learn how to state our case, to deliver our messages, to talk to new clients and give appropriate customer service.

For entrepreneurs and anyone developing a personal brand, the perfect alignment of public and private, professional and personal is an ongoing quest. Moreover, the search for how we as individuals can most usefully, meaningfully, and happily exist on the planet is no less than our prime motivator. It’s what we are doing in life. No wonder there are no easy answers.

If you struggle with balancing these two hemispheres of your daily existence, take heart and just keep working. Perhaps pile on an extra helping of love – whether for yourself or for others or both! – and continue looking for clues. Every step you take on the journey to your fullest and best expression is a sign of healthy progress.


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About Mary Ruth

Mary H. Ruth is a virtual assistant, online marketing manager, copywriter and editor, and certified inbound marketing specialist. She has over 30 years' experience in administration and marketing in both non-profit and business sectors, having earned a degree in English Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1975. Now living in Gainesville, Florida, she's been working online since late 2007.

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