The language of an entrepreneur

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Yesterday I had my first meeting with Gloria, a new client. She is the mother of two children, and her husband works as an IT consultant. She’s been running a small Social Media Marketing Business for over a year now and is struggling to get it off the ground.

The goal of the first meeting was to identify the reasons why Gloria got into the business and what was her motivation. It is usually me asking lots of questions and picking out the answers. What most people are not aware of is that I specifically listen out for the words my clients use when answering the questions; the way they are said and the gestures that go with it.

It tells me very much about the state of my client, her motivation, frustration or the general outlook for the future.

Getting inside the mindset

Gloria showed me all the things she’s done – the lists of the people she spoke to, the products and services she has on offer and the names of the two clients she worked with during the last year.

Her business isn’t making any money, and I am sure if we looked deeper into her finances, we would find that she is losing money at a rapid pace.

She was frustrated and everything she said underlined that. The words she used were:
‘There is too much competition…’
‘People want everything for free…’
‘I am frustrated…’

She wasn’t in a good state.

Over the years, I’ve learned that the way you talk is the way you experience your life. If you are talking about frustration all the time related to yourself, that is exactly what you will become. The way you speak to others is the way they perceive you. If you tell them that it is a difficult market, what you say is that you struggle to cope with the market. Whatever you say is what you and anyone else will focus on.

We often don’t realise how many negative or disruptive words we use every day. It’s easy to fall into that, but don’t forget, your mind and everyone around is listening.

If you are in a similar situation as Gloria and you want to change your business around, you need to change the way you look and talk about your business in the first place. Who wants a business pushed by too much competition, that’s frustrating and where clients don’t want to pay? Nobody wants this! Why bother in the first place?

After she got it all out, she looked at me and asked: ‘Can you help me – I don’t know what to do?’

Turning the tide of negatives into positives

How could I refuse? I love helping people become successful. That is the main reason I started my business and of course, I can – and will – help her.

The first thing we did is to write down why she started her business in the first place. What was it that made her move at the time? How did she describe her business a year ago?

The list looked something like this:

• I can help small businesses to become a name in the Social Media sphere
• I can generate leads and connect them to the right people
• I can create content related to their market based on their material that will attract positive attention

We kept going on like this for another 20 minutes, and you could see her face light up. She realised what was happening and tried not to look into my eyes to avoid breaking into a smile.

But what had happened in those 30 minutes?

She’d stopped looking at the details and started to see the bigger picture. Her language was changing, and it accelerated the process.

This alone won’t turn her business around, but the core of her business is her belief that she can do it, is knowing that what she does is amazing and that this will help so many people to achieve their goals. It gives her the energy, drive and motivation she needs to keep going.

Her first task is to watch out for her language and to use words that point towards her purpose of running the business. Here’s how the perspective changes:

‘Too much competition’* becomes *’An exciting and vibrant market place.’
‘People who want everything for free’* becomes *’Creating better and extraordinary value.’
‘I am frustrated’* becomes *’Learning to be the best in my field.’

Bring on the feelgood factor

Using the right words changes the way you feel and look at things. I am not talking about the f* word. If that word makes you feel good, use it. Just be aware that others are listening too. Choose a vocabulary that gets you into the direction you want to go.

Here are a few words describing extraordinary: remarkable, exceptional, amazing, astonishing, astounding, marvellous, wonderful, sensational, stunning, incredible, unbelievable, miraculous, phenomenal, prodigious, spectacular….

Get a dictionary or tap into an online thesaurus and start looking for words you like and help you describe what you think and want. Use them.

My next meeting with Gloria will be about her business model and the main categories she wants to master. I am looking forward to seeing her grow and run the business she is dreaming of.

Now, isn’t life marvellous?

John Di Stefano

An entrepreneur at heart and founder of the Entrepreneur Academy in Brussels, Belgium. He is teaching and supporting entrepreneurs in the skills every entrepreneur needs to create a better life for themselves and the people around them.

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