“So, what do YOU do?”
As biz-owners we’re free to give pretty much any response when someone asks us that.
We’re not restricted by the labels of the past: “accountant”, “teacher”, “copywriter” etc.
Partly it’s because there are even more labels than ever…
(For instance, when you go somewhere fancy, your drinks are made by a mixologist. And there you were thinking they were a bartender.
A nephologist is someone who studies clouds, which sounds like a lovely way to spend time.)
…but it’s also because you and I work in a world where we’re increasingly encouraged to define our own labels (if we even want a label).
So if you’re in marketing, you can call yourself a growth-ologist and nobody will laugh (ok some people will laugh).
It used to be that a mysterious, unseen “they” decided who got a ‘proper’ label. We’d be given one from a list of a couple of hundred, and we’d damn well have to like it.
But now it’s really up to us to decide how we ‘label’ what we do
If you scroll through your LinkedIn connections, chances are there are a whole bunch of people describing their work in new terms.
I’m all for it.
(I’ve even learned to accept “influencer”. Seriously, I’m very relaxed these days.)
If you’re running your own business, how you describe what you do is too important to just pick a label from the pile.
It might feel weird at first, but making up your own ‘-ologism’ and taking that decision out of the invisible hands of “them” is a brave step.
We’ve become obsessed with labels, titles and boxes to put people in. I get it – that’s partly how we make sense of the world. Through shortcuts, even if they’re inaccurate.
But that can be limiting when you want to run your own biz or express your particular way of seeing the world.
If you have unique value to share through your work, why should you have to point to someone else and say “I’m the same as them” when someone asks what you do?
Some of my clients came to me with their own ‘title’ already in place, and some we’ve worked on together, to help them stand out by better communicating what they do to the people they most want to help.
Often they’re very different from the ones they started out with when they began their biz, which is only natural as our skills and experiences develop over time.
I started my business as “a copywriter”, now I say I’m a “Selling Unique consultant”. I still write sales copy as part of my work, but I define what I do differently these days.
We have more power over how we’re labelled than we might think
Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like An Artist, even suggests we “forget the noun, do the verb”. He quotes the ever-thoughtful Stephen Fry to illustrate his point:
We are not nouns, we are verbs.
I am not a thing – an actor, a writer – I am a person who does things – I write, I act – and I never know what I am going to do next.
I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.”
Isn’t part of running your own business a way of avoiding being ‘imprisoned’?
Maybe you’re more verb than noun, too.
Do you have a unique way of telling the world what you do?
Hit up the comments below to tell me what it is, and how you chose it.