Did you ever take a class in literature?
One of the things you learn about authors is that they need to go through a process of maturing and becoming the author we know and love. So, their early work is often very different from their later work. Their early work is a little forced. It’s often a variation on someone else’s work. Sometimes an author’s early work is so heavily inspired by someone else that the author is viewed as writing in the “school” of someone else.
When the author matures, all of this is different. At some point the author is said to have “found his voice.” Now the writing seems fresh and new and inspired. Chances are, the author’s writing will become consistent, and better over time. Eventually, the author’s “voice” is very strongly associated with him.
Business goes through a similar process.
At first, you might be copying others, inspired by others, and fishing around to figure out what you’re doing. But at some point you have enough experiences that you “find your voice” in business. It’s like a quickening. Everything comes together and takes on a life of its own.
When you find your voice, the processes all become easier. The rules make more sense, are easier to follow, and can be taught to others. Why? Because they have become your rules. You’re no longer parroting what others do and what you’ve been told is the right thing to do. Now it’s your thing.
Of course that doesn’t mean everything’s easy and perfect. You still have to go to work every day. You still have to work hard. But things are a little easier than they used to be. Motivation is easier. Things make more sense. And the speed of success increases.
The next obvious question is: can you make this quickening take place? Can you force it?
The answer is no. And yes.
At some level, all that goodness comes from experience. You can make life a lot easier by learning from books and avoiding from the “school of hard knocks.” But book learning will normally only get us an intellectual understanding. To truly know, understand, and internalize most things, we need experience. That’s why we can read about certain practices a hundred times before they sink in: We have to be ready for them to sink in.
On the positive side, you can certainly speed up the process.
How does a writer find his voice? He writes! He doesn’t play video games, watch thousands of hours of You-Tube videos, or spend all his time and energy on pointless activities. A writer writes and, as he works at his craft, he finds his voice.
And how do you find your business voice? You work on your business. You fall in love with it. You enjoy it and spend time working on it [not IN your business, but ON your business]. You work on the look, the feel, the philosophy, the taste, the smell, and the sounds of your business. You actively work to make it your own and to make it different.
This takes time. But the more you focus on it, the less time it takes.
No one is in a business with zero competition. Even if no one does exactly what you do, your client still has to make decisions about where to spend money. So, what makes your business different and special? What have you got others don’t have? And how do you deliver it in a way that others don’t?
What’s your business voice?