I was on the phone the other day with a client who said a phrase that I’ve heard countless times from entrepreneurs.
“I have been the best-kept secret in my industry.”
And he has been! His business is successful, he works with celebrity clients, and he has clients who have been with him for decades.
But when you ask his colleagues to name successful, well-known experts in his industry, his name doesn’t come up.
After talking with him about why he thinks he’s the best-kept secret, we unfolded a few limiting beliefs that have been holding him back from really breaking out.
Over the years, I’ve been a part of a number of masterminds and entrepreneurs’ groups, and I KNOW that EVERY entrepreneur has experienced this.
This is part of the mental and emotional journey of entrepreneurship.
If you have that nagging thought that YOU are a best-kept secret, then let’s get real about what is really holding you back.
The Badge of Honor
This one is deceptively sexy. Being the “best-kept secret” can be worn as a badge of honor. There is an odd pride that you feel when you think, “If you only knew how awesome I am.”
But it’s all smoke and mirrors.
Even the massively successful docu-film “The Secret” wasn’t a freakin’ secret! It sold tens of millions of copies!
Being a “best-kept secret” isn’t about being “the best”; it’s about being the best at hiding. After all, no one is keeping you hidden, but you.
If you are a “best-kept secret,” then you are allowing yourself to play small.
Why are you playing small? Perhaps one of the following limiting beliefs is holding you back. But, before we move on to those, I want to remove the notion that there is a sexy mystique to being a “best-kept secret.”
If you are happy with where you are, then great! But please don’t pretend that anyone other than yourself is keeping you from stepping into a bigger role. That’s all you, honey.
Now, if you no longer want to wear the tin badge of hiding, let’s figure out what is going on that has kept you from taking those bigger, bolder steps.
Fear of Association
Oh, darlin’. Let me tell you. THIS was my big barrier.
What is fear of association?
Well, it goes a little something like this…
There are things you know you need to do in your business to take it to the next level. But, the problem is that when you look at who is successful at doing those things, you’re turned off. The “big name” guys who are making the most noise are douchey, jerks, annoying, and sometimes (if you know a story or two about what happens behind the scenes) unethical.
And so, you say to yourself, “I never want to be associated with THAT!”
And so you avoid using the tools and strategies that the douches used to get their success.
Look. I get it.
We all have a list of people who we know are successful, but who we don’t want to be like. … You’re thinking of a name or two right now, aren’t you? … It’s ok. I’m thinking of a few faces as I type this, as well.
Fear of association is a limitation.
Fear of association chatter says: if annoying jerks use it, then it is only for annoying jerks. Therefore, I should not use it, because I don’t want to be (perceived as) an annoying jerk.
But hey! A bunch of annoying, douchebags go to the gym and lift weights. Does that mean that you have to be an annoying douchebag to go to the gym? Does that mean that lifting weights isn’t good for your body? Does it mean that you can’t work out, get healthy and sexy without being perceived as an annoying, douchey, jerk? Wouldn’t you be the same awesome, beautiful, ethical person that you are…even if you did some squats? Hmmmmm????
There are a bunch of things that the loud-mouthed, skeezoids do that you also do. I’m sure that they eat at In and Out, but that doesn’t mean I’m NOT going to have my burger when I want it!
You are making a false correlation…Stop it!
Plus, when you take on this limited perspective, you limit yourself from seeing the possibilities of how you could use those same tools and systems in a way that works for you.
You absolutely can find your authentic approach to implementing successful strategies.
Sometimes being a “best-kept secret” is the result of overwhelm.
And overwhelm leads to inaction.
When you want to take your business and brand to the next level, it’s easy to look out ahead at all the things that you could and should do. The new elements that you have to add to your business. The organization required. The consistency in action…Things you haven’t been able to master in the past.
Not to mention the need for support.
And all of that can be so daunting that you look back at the comfortable place you are in, wrap a blanket around yourself, and say, “I’ll do all that later. Just not now.” And you cozy up to your comfort zone.
Breaking out from your “secret” status doesn’t mean you have to do everything all at once.
No one can do that. And no one does.
Trying to break out while being pulled in different directions is not a strategy.
Of course, it’s good to know your options. But your first (and powerful) step is to find ONE thing that you can rock out.
What will you enjoy doing? What are you good at? What action will get you closer to your goal?
If you do too many things, you make minuscule progress in each area. (And then, of course, you get frustrated because you’re not seeing the results you need/want, so you drop it… and stay hidden.)
But if you choose ONE thing, you can make massive progress.
You will no longer be victim to where the current takes you. YOU will create the driving wind to push you in the direction to finally break out. Breaking wind!!! (Wait, no. That’s not quite right. Aw, hell. You know what I mean!)
You can always add more layers and complexity to your business model. When you look at the businesses of those who are further along than you, sure you’ll see many methodologies being deployed. But they didn’t start there!
They began by taking massive action in one area and slowly, over time, adding something new to take massive action on.
That is how successful people build their business machine – one gear at a time.
Build yours the same way.
Lack of Clarity
Here’s another possibility. Perhaps you are a “best-kept secret” because you are a mystery….to yourself.
In order to have a foothold in the minds and hearts of the people that matter to your business, you need to have clarity in:
- Who you serve
- Why you serve them
- The problems you solve
- and How you serve them
You cannot be everything to everyone.
Then you are no one (at least from a marketing/branding standpoint). And while “no one” might have fooled the Cyclops; being no one doesn’t fill your bank account.
Typically, if you are a “best-kept secret,” one of these clarity points is muddled.
You need clarity of customer, mission, pain points, and offering.
Remember, this is a never-ending process.
As your business grows, you will need to revisit and refine your message. With every new offering, product, and customer avatar you need to make sure that the narrative (on ALL fronts) is clear, concise, and compelling.
Here’s the truth (and it can sometimes be a not-so-fun one to realize. Don’t worry. We’ve all been there.)…if you’re not seeing the results that you want in your business, it is very likely due to a breakdown or disconnect in your message.
Please don’t let your ego block you from seeing this realization.
Something isn’t clicking. Something isn’t resonating.
And that is a mystery that MUST be solved.
The Sad Truth about Being a “Best Kept Secret”
Being a “best-kept secret” is both a disservice to you and those who you can help.
Please don’t allow these limiting beliefs help you rationalize that it’s ok for you to play small, stay hidden, and not truly be seen.
You deserve better. And, perhaps more importantly…
…the people you can help deserve better!
There are many more people out there who can use your help. But they haven’t been able to have their own breakthrough because the people that they see out there are those douchey, jerks we talked about.
And so they hold back …because you’re holding back.
Being a “best-kept secret” is selfish.
So, put down your misrepresenting “badge of honor.” Instead of fearing association, what if you created the new standard to which to be associated with?! Overcome overwhelm by choosing one strategic, authentic path for you to take massive action. Be a detective and find the missing clarity to your message. Stop being the “best-kept secret” and just be THE BEST.