Do you tend to hide elements of your past working life that don’t immediately seem to fit with your current business?
Like me, my clients are usually multi-passionate creatives, who’ve taken a winding path to reach the businesses they are now running. Often they feel slightly ashamed of not having stuck to one thing, but I think the diverse experiences we bring to whatever we’re doing now can be one of our greatest strengths.
As an example, I’m the only business coach I’ve ever come across whose background is in book publishing and working as a mentor for novelists. You might think my previous experience was largely irrelevant to my current role, but I beg to differ. Here are seven reasons why my writing background makes me a better business coach:
Editing means subtracting in order to improve. Any word or sentence that distracts or takes away from the core of the book has to go, however good it may be in its own right. As a business coach, I look at how my clients could focus just on those areas that form the core of their business and let go of the rest, so that their business is stronger and more sustainable.
I’m not just a lifelong bookworm - as an editor I have a technical understanding of how stories work, what’s crucial, what’s nice to have and what’s just a distraction. I apply this understanding to your about page, your sales copy, your newsletters and wherever else you communicate with the people you’d love to be working with. Stories engage people like nothing else - if you can crack brand storytelling, all your marketing will feel more natural and, praise be, never ever icky or salesy. Online businesses in particular are built on words - engaging storytelling is a key skill that you can’t do without, making all aspects of your marketing and messaging easier.
As an editor, I’m trained to see the bigger picture: the overall narrative arc, the weak spots in the narrative, the plot holes and the areas that need improving. As your business coach, I’ll apply that thinking to your overall business strategy.
Editors aren’t just big picture thinkers though, they famously have an eye for detail too, honing in on the exact placement of a comma or the smallest nuances of meaning. As your business coach, I’ll be looking at the detail of what you’re doing too - and considering which small tweaks could have big effects.
Editors need to work with head AND heart - looking at how an author is following the ‘rules’ of storytelling and grammar on the one hand and working with intuition and creativity on the other. As your business coach, I want to ensure what you do is financially sustainable and makes good business sense, but also that it’s rooted in your values, vision and sense of inner purpose.
The work that an editor does with an author is a genuine collaboration, a creative partnership, with both parties bringing their skills to the table to create the best book possible. As a business coach, I bring this belief in the power of collaboration, of working together to bring out the potential of your business.
Editors need to be a book’s biggest advocate, but they can’t just be cheerleaders - their role is also to be the book’s toughest critic. This is analogous to the role that a business coach has with their client’s business. I don’t take on clients unless I believe in their businesses and share their values - but my greatest value to a client is in offering an informed and constructive critique.
Your journey to running your current business is bound to be different from mine, but what have you learned along the way? How does that feed into your work now? How does it strengthen it and give you a unique edge? What if, instead of playing down what makes you different, you celebrated it and put it at the heart of how you describe what you do?