It's Not About You
Embarking on this journey called ‘Voiceover’ has been one of the most unique adventures I’ve ever undertaken. Never before have I taken the plunge into new and unfamiliar territory so completely. Okay…I guess moving to Africa after graduating college would probably fall under that category as well, so maybe entrepreneurial pursuits are more in line with my character than I thought. Regardless, my experience with VO thus far has been full of steep learning curves, seemingly never-ending information, and a constant need to be open to new and unexpected lessons.
Over the past month, I’ve had the pleasure of working through friend and colleague, Paul Schmidt’s, VO Freedom Master Plan (VOFMP). Paul recognized that many voice actors were struggling not due to lack of talent or skills training, but because they don’t know how to adequately market themselves and find work. Not content to let fellow voice actors flop, he created VOFMP, an online course and community dedicated to helping voice actors develop a step-by-step marketing process to establish and grow relationships at scale that lead to consistent work and income.
I’m filled with such gratitude for colleagues like Paul, who see those of us who are new or fumbling (or both!) and choose to reach out from a place of their experience and expertise to lend a helping hand. As I’ve gone through the course and interacted with other members of the community, I have learned so many valuable things. There’s one lesson in particular, however, that I’ve taken to heart and has entirely transformed how I approach my business model. It’s a simple notion: “It’s not about you.”
Reframing Your Business
I think one of the most invigorating things for new and aspiring entrepreneurs in any industry is the satisfaction of building something yourself. You work hard, investing time, energy, and money to create something from nothing. If and when you achieve success—however you chose to define it—you relish in the fact that it’s yours. But one of the keys to running a successful business, I believe, is that it’s not about you.
“What do you mean it’s not about me?” you may be asking. “It’s my business. I built it. I did the heavy lifting. I made it happen.” Yes, that’s true (to an extent; nothing happens in a vacuum), and there’s nothing wrong with taking pride in what you’ve created or accomplished. But in order for a business to be truly successful, it can’t reek of a “Me! Me! Me!” scent. Successful businesses are outward focused. They take care to consider their customers and their needs first. They go to the trouble of learning about a client’s problems and figuring out how they can be a solution. The business doesn’t exist for itself or its founder, but to be an avenue of service to others.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Obviously, anyone who starts a business does so with multiple goals in mind, undoubtedly including being financially fruitful. I’m not trying to say that business cannot or should not be personally beneficial for those who run them—clearly not. Rather, I’m suggesting that a best practice mindset for a business should always have the clientele at top-of-mind. Many businesses, including voiceover, are people businesses, so building and servicing positive relationships with those people who we wish to do business with is key.
Check Your Language
One of the ways I’ve learned to put the “It’s not about me” mindset into practice is in the way I talk and write about my business. First and foremost, the way in which I frame what my business offers needs to come from a place of why. Author and speaker, Simon Sinek, suggests, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” When prospective clients understand the heart and soul of your business endeavors, it builds relationship and trust. It helps them see that there’s something beneath the surface, more than wanting to win a contract or make more money off of them. For example, when I share that I do voiceover because I love stories and believe they are a powerful method of bringing about positive change in the world, it offers people a point of connection and relatability. So, you’ve got to ask yourself, why do you do what you do?
In addition, anything my client hears or reads about my business ought to immediately help them understand what’s in it for them. When they visit my website, I want them to recognize themselves. When I offer my services in an email, I want them to identify their problem and see me as an ally in helping them solve it. When I speak to them, I want them to feel heard, understood, and prioritized. In everything I say or write, I need to bring value to other people. Otherwise, I’m no different than all the other white noise clogging their inboxes and internet connections.
Let Your Business Mirror Your Life
Applying the “It’s not about you” principle to business seems like such a no-brainer when it’s pointed out to you. It makes so much sense. How could I have missed it? In the end, I think it comes down to remembering that our business is a facet of our holistic lives, and therefore should reflect the values we hold for our holistic lives. When we focus on ourselves, when we try to stand apart from the crowd, more often than not we end up pushing others away. Instead, when we turn our attention to others and seek to serve and support them with the gifts and resources available to us, we build networks of strong relationships that yield mutually beneficial results for all involved.
When reading up on comparative religions, Norman Rockwell noticed the one thing they all had in common was a variation of the Golden Rule.
Hurt not others with that which pains yourself.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Do not unto others what you would not they should do unto you.
What is hurtful to yourself do not to your fellow man.
This is the sum of duty: do naught to others which if done to thee would cause thee pain.
No one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.
In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self, and should therefore refrain from inflicting upon others such injury as would appear undesirable to us if inflicted upon ourselves.
As thou deemest thyself so deem others.
Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain; and regard your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.
The nature only is good when it shall not do unto another whatever is not good for its own self.
There’s a reason all the great cultures of the world have treasured this mindset throughout time. If this is how we seek to live our lives, why wouldn’t we structure our businesses to function in the same way. Does your business treat clients the way you would want to be treated as a client? Let us remember that numbers, figures, and spreadsheets are a shallow measure of success. Instead, keep in mind that it’s not about us; rather, our success is determined by how well we serve those we’re privileged to do life with.
Until next time, friends, keep telling stories.
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Voiceover Artist | Storyteller
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