While we each have our own “flavor,” (be it branding, copywriting, coaching, designing, selling, or any other service), essentially, we’re all in the same business. We’re in the business of helping people.

To help people, we must first build relationships with them.

Unless you’re Oprah, that’s going to take a bit of work.

Honestly, I spent most of my life being someone I wasn’t and living by the rules someone else prescribed for me. I was so afraid of being “found out,” I refused to join Facebook. I had some relationships, but they weren’t built on anything solid because I wasn’t solid.

If you can’t have effective relationships, you can’t have an effective business. That’s why it’s critical to first know who you are. More importantly, it’s essential to present yourself honestly, truthfully, and consistently online—that includes being honest and upfront about your illness or disability.

Take a suggestion from Cyndi Lauper’s song, True Colors:

I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow

It takes many colors to make a rainbow and to attract the right clients, it’s imperative to show your true colors. People will love you, not for the way you water down your colors or the way you fake your way through a Facebook live (although it happens sometimes.)

They will love you for your heart, for your story, and they will love you for the way you show up (even if you show up in your pajamas on occasion). They will also love you if you must reschedule on occasion because you’re having a flare-up.

Relationships are built in the heart first. People think business is logical, and it is, but I believe business is also about connection and love. Business is about connecting with your clients in their heart space and meeting them on their level, at whatever level that is.

I trust a hug over a handshake. And dancing with a client, takes business to a whole ‘nother level if you know what I mean.

Don’t feel like you should hide any part of yourself in any way, shape, or form. In particular, don’t hide your disability. It’s part of your journey and part of what makes your services unique.

Don’t create a special language for your business either. If you’re a person who says “fuck” in conversation, say it online, but don’t just say it to be like everyone else. If you’d never be caught dead saying a swear word, then certainly don’t say one online.

Be you. Period.

Be consistent. Your audience shouldn’t have to wonder what they will get from you. They should know exactly what to expect.

If you’re going to surprise them, let it be with a gift or a spectacular offer, not a zinger.

Deliver value—time and time again.

Respond and collaborate.

Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Be true to yourself and your self-care, first and foremost. Know your limits, what you can deliver, and then, over deliver—all the time.

If you try to emulate others, you’ll be stuck among the myriad of businesses doing the same thing as you. To stand out in business, you need to show off your signature skills. You’re the only person who can do that.

You’ll never stand out trying to be someone else. You can only be recognized for your differences if you demonstrate them. You do this by being the person you were designed to be, being the person you were trained to be, and being the person you were born to be. That includes your disability. You were gifted with it for a reason.

Unless you’re a shining star within the galaxy, you won’t meet the people and develop the relationships you need to succeed.

By being you, there’s no doubt you will repel some people. That’s okay. You will also draw in the clients you’re meant to work with. You’ll be a magnet for the clients who are delighted to be in your sphere, and take you to the next level.

In sharing these thoughts, I feel a bit like Jerry Maguire as he was typing “The Things We Think and Do not Say—The Future of Our Business.”

However, the main difference between me and Jerry Maguire is, I’ve already had my departure from the corporate world. I’ve also reached the point where I have clients like Rod Tidwell, who tell me “I dig that about you,” and I couldn’t be happier.

You know how I got there?

I found out who I was, and showed up consistently as me, with a fuck-ton of integrity.

Now, let’s dance!