How do our business practices reflect our values?
Jean is new to this blog. She began teaching online a few years ago and is now struggling to carve out her own niche in this crowded market with dismal attention span and progressive amnesia.
How do you trick people to remember you, bookmark your page, come back for more? How can you use the 7 seconds the average reader spends on your homepage so you can convert her to your average email list?
“Now we immediately ask for the customer’s email address, we collect data, not out of interest, but often just to leverage it. We’ve allowed efficiency to suck the joy from our work.” ~ Bernadette Jiwa
As many people venturing into the online business world, Jean is overwhelmed.
When she reads about aligning her values and business practices, her curiosity is peaked. She’s never thought about that. So it’s not the tricks that help people stick with you in the long run? In fact, the tricks may do the opposite.
But what does it mean? How do our business practices reflect our values?
If you’re a Jean, this post is for you. This post is for me, too. For years I did things that I thought were “right” because some guy or gal on Youtube said I had to do them. They helped me beat the odds and do stuff fast. Hello, efficiency!
Then someone else came along and gave me the permission to be myself. And now a turtle is a part of my branding because I believe that though the hare might be fast, the turtle is smart, and smart wins in the end.
You are smart when you focus on your values and weed out any practices that contradict them.
You are smart when you focus on your values and weed out any practices that contradict them.Click To Tweet
In this post I’ve come up with 30+ memorable examples that indicate when your values and practices run amok. These inconsistencies hiccup your brand narrative and eventually wear out your readers. Let’s get some water and stop hiccuping, shall we?
Disclaimer: I may repeat myself. I’m a teacher. I do that. Often. To make sure you get the point. But more so, to make sure that I get the point. Please bear with me.
1. When you want to do your best for your clients, but berate them on social media..
2. When you’re too tired to do the best work for your clients, so you give them scraps and pretend that it’s the best.
3. When you complain and whine on social media but refuse to make a turtle step to change your life for the better.
4. When you ask your clients to invest in you but never invest in others.
5. When you don’t want to be salesy but force people to buy from you.
6. When you want to be authentic, but hide behind your logos and emoticons.
7. When you want to share your story, but only showcase your diplomas as though they’ll convince people to trust you more.
8. When you want people to buy from you, but don’t want to share anything for free.
9. When you say you believe in collaboration but don’t help others succeed (like, don’t even take the time to share their content).
10. When you look around for inspiration, get tired of digging deeper to find your voice and … just copy and paste what you see (and then hope it will yield great results).
“… if you only do what you can do, you never have to worry that someone else is doing it. It keeps you from competing. It keeps you looking inside for what is true rather than outside for what’s popular.” ~ Delia Ephron.
1. When you want your clients to pay you fairly, but you’re always looking to talk someone else into giving you a discount.
2. When you charge premium prices for your programs but your website hasn’t been updated for years.
3. When you say money isn’t important but then share a story of how unhappy you were when you made less than now.
4. When you look for cheap or free but then complain that your brand only attracts freeloaders.
5. When you hate doing what you do but choose to teach it anyway because it is “better paid” (and do nothing about it).
6. When you want others to learn from you but don’t want to learn from others saying you already know it all.
7. (I’ll repeat it): When you say you know it all already. You may not say it, but think it.
“It’s easy for me to read a book or to listen to someone talk and think to myself that I know this, but it’s more important to maybe take a second to ask myself whether or not I’m actually living it, whether or not it’s something I have internalized to the point where my actions prove that I know it….It’s not what you can recount off memory or what you can nod your head to as you read it, it’s the behaviors your knowledge inspires.” ~ Zat Rana
1. When your pricing varies based on the perceived financial situation of your client.
2. When you choose gimmicks to “entice” your clients – the same gimmicks you can’t stand (pop-ups that never close, sign-up forms that jump from everywhere, fake timers on deals, etc.)
3. When you decide on a strategy based on what others are doing, not what’s working for you.
4. When you aren’t seeking connection with your fans but write to them only to sell something (not knowing what to write isn’t their problem, is it?).
5. When you post the “last chance” after a “last chance,” like: Oh, I know you didn’t buy yesterday (which was the deadline), but some people have asked, and so – here’s your very last chance.”
6. When you turn your client down by saying you’re too busy (when in reality you’re afraid to tell her she’s a poor fit for you).
7. When you think you’re smarter than your readers (and can get away with some fake stuff).
“Denial becomes a liability when you see that something is not working and you refuse to deal with it. You tell yourself “I’ll fix it later,” or you convince yourself that you can get away with it, that your audience won’t notice the weak spots. This is bad denial. You won’t get very far relying on your audience’s ignorance.” ~ Twyla Tharp
1. When you take on a poor fit of a client just because you’re afraid you won’t ever find the right one.
2. When you’re exhausted and tired and passionless, but are still working hard without a clear vision for the future. How can you bring your best to your client?
3. When you say you’re booked out when you’re not.
4. When you’re booked out but say you still have one spot.
5. When you think you’re a fraud if you don’t make/don’t look/don’t do (fill in the blank).
6. When you use cuss words as your “normal” language (it’s getting popular among creative entrepreneurs), it defeats the purpose of cussing.
7. When you use cuss words (or anything else for that matter) just because that cool icon on youtube does it (but it contradicts your values).
8. When you’re taking your judgement or personal rants on social media with no regard to other person’s feelings.
9. When you position yourself as willing to learn, but appear to stick with your good-ole “I’ve always done it this way.”
10. When you do everything to please everyone.
“… Ruth hardly ever did anything in her life without trying to please someone, and with the same justice of the world, she ended up pleasing few people and making herself miserable.” ~ Maeve Binchy.
1. When you don’t challenge the status quo though you believe you’re an open-minded person.
2. When you think your unique talents aren’t as unique and anyone can do that anyway.
3. When you think you’re always right.
4. When you think everyone else is wrong. When you think everyone else is out there to get you, your brilliant ideas and your money. How can people trust you?
5. When you become an affiliate for the money and have never used the product you’re promoting.
So what now?
Weeding out inconsistencies in our business practices is a lifelong journey.
But values matter, and as people are getting savvier when it comes to shopping online and wearier of predictable mass-market gimmicks, we need to take a deeper look at how our business reflects our values.
What about you? Do you have any examples of discrepancies between values and practices? Please share in the comments!
P.S. Further Reading
As a person always on a lookout for new books that won’t drain my energy and rob me of my time, I appreciate further reading resources. I hope you do, too!
Here’re the links to the resources I’ve referred to in this post (some of the links are affiliate,* here’s what it means).
- Bernadette Jiwa’s Blog
- Zat Rana’s Blog on Medium
- Delia Ephron, Sister Mother Husband Dog (Etc.) *
- Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it For Life *
- Maeve Binchy, Chestnut Street. *
The blog post was updated in March, 2021.
Thanks for another excellent post, Elena. This is content that you don’t see very often. I like that you include yourself in the ongoing process of reflection.
I might add, “When you value friendships, community, and self-care but allow your work to overtake them.” This is one reason I’m taking the turtle route. I was also fortunate to find you as a mentor when starting my online teaching practice.
Wow, Kate! Thank you so much. Your addition is insightful.
Yes, I believe I must include myself. It’s easy for anyone, when we look around, to start comparing and second-guessing yourself, especially when it comes to comments like, “Why am I so slow? What’s wrong with me? Why isn’t my strategy working? Why is this person doing this, and I’m not doing it? Maybe it will work?” And on and on. So I will be back to that post myself.
Thank you for reading!
Thank you Elena! You’re an inspiration. Everything you write is so on point! I feel I’m learning so much!
Chris, I’m thankful that you’re a part of this community! I appreciate your participation. Have a great rest of the week!