“You’ve got to be fearless.”
That was his simple advice. I was sitting in the office of one of the senior executives a few years back when I worked my corporate job. I had asked him what he felt was his biggest key to success in his thriving career.
His answer was one I’d never heard before. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how important fearlessness is to building the career you want.
It also holds true when it comes to building the business you want.
After my meeting with the executive, I went to my desk and wrote the word “fearless” on my whiteboard.
Such a simple concept, that often if feels difficult to apply in practice. Especially when we’re focused on being perfect. And especially when we’re scared out of our minds about how to actually make the dreams in our heads a reality.
Finding the confidence you need to move forward can be tough. That’s why I was pleased when the topic came up as a theme during my discussion with Henneke Duistermaat.
She’s the founder of Enchanting Marketing, and in just a few short years, she’s established herself as a go-to-expert when it comes to learning how to write the words you need to build your business.
From the outside looking in, it seems like Henneke is fearless as she works to grow her business. But behind the scenes, Henneke often deals with the same self-doubt many of us do.
In this interview, she shared what she’s done to find the courage to grow her business. You’ll also learn the following:
- A simple process to use to get over your fear
- How to effectively silence your critics (both inside and outside your mind)
- Why getting moving is sometimes more difficult on your own than with a big company, and what to do about it
- The truth about mistakes and the entrepreneurial learning curve
- The often overlooked trait that is basis for building a successful business
Have a look at the video, and then let me know your answer to the challenge question in the comments. I’m anxious to hear your plan on how you’ll become fearless to move your business forward.
- Enchanting Marketing
- Henneke’s 1st post on Copyblogger – 58 Ways to create persuasive content your audience will love
- I Will Survive by CAKE
Sonia Thompson: Welcome to episode 3 of I Am the One, a show that features entrepreneurs who decided they were going to be the ones to make life better for the people they serve.
I’m Sonia Thompson, and for today’s show, I sat down with a woman who’s fabulous, she’s known only by her first name.
Henneke, as she’s known, is the founder of Enchanting Marketing. Since 2011, Henneke she’s been working hard helping business owners win clients with their words.
This irreverent copywriter and business writing coach has made a big splash with her books, blog posts, and courses that teach entrepreneurs how to stop using gobbledygook in favor of sparkling words that woo readers.
Henneke knows her stuff, and we can learn a lot from her journey. So let’s see what she has to say. Here’s she is.
On proving to yourself you can do it
Sonia Thompson: Henneke, thanks so much for being here with us today, it’s great to have you.
Henneke: Yeah, I’m excited to be here, nice to see you.
Sonia: Yeah. It’s always great to see you. I wanted to just talk with you briefly about your experience as an entrepreneur. I’ve heard you say, several times, whenever you first got started, you were still working in a corporate job and you weren’t exactly sure what you were going to write about or eventually what your business was going to be, but yet you got started blogging anyway.
What was it that gave you the courage to start blogging, let alone, start blogging on the biggest marketing blog in the world whenever you got started?
Henneke: I don’t really know exactly why, but this was, for me, it was a test case, I think. It was a trial and that’s how I saw it. You see, I never saw myself as a writer. I was a marketing person, and a manager, but I was fascinated by writing and I really enjoyed it. I thought, “Well, if I can do this, I can escape my job.”
It was really like, I never saw myself as somebody running her own company, and I thought, “If I can write a blog post and get it published on Copyblogger, then there’s a way out, then I can find a way out.” I didn’t have a lot of courage to do it. I was dithering about it for ages.
I think I read six books before I started writing the post. I read them specifically to write the post. Even when the draft was ready, I kept polishing while it was done and the change didn’t make a difference, but I kept doing it. I wasn’t confident, but I did think like, “OK, come on. Let’s try it because if you can do it, there’s an opportunity out there.”
Sonia: Absolutely. I’m glad that you tried it because it worked really well.
Henneke: Yeah, it did. It went totally wrong with my first blog post because I had my author bio and it linked to my website, but my website wasn’t out yet at all. I figured I had plenty of time by the time the post will go up, and then I’ll have a landing page by then.
But, the problem was that post was published much quicker than I anticipated. They emailed me while I was on a business trip in Italy and they said, “Your post will go up in two days, but the link in your bio doesn’t work.”
I can’t do anything because I was abroad. I had to say, “Well, just take it out, the link.” I had the guests post going up on Copyblogger, and all it said was that it was from me and comment on Twitter, which was like missed opportunity. I had to laugh about it because it was such a stupid mistake, but I proved I could do it and that was the main thing.
Sonia: Yeah. I think, getting over that initial hurdle is the biggest thing. Like you said, you actually prepared really well to have that post do, as well as it did. Once you got over that initial hump, even though there were some bumps along the way, looks like you set yourself up to do well for everything else that came afterwards.
Henneke: Yeah. I think that it’s quite a good lesson and that’s how I approached my business later on as well. I tend to be quite a perfectionist and want to get everything done but if you try to get everything perfect, then you never get anywhere.
Just get started it.
The simple process to help you get over your fear
Sonia: You’ve got to ship, you’ve got to get going. And you improve along the way. Alright, Enchanting Marketing is your business, it’s doing well now. You’ve been up and running about three years now?
Henneke: Less than that. I started my business, just over two years now.
Sonia: You started the blogging and then you started to get clients, what was the need that you were actually or you continue to solve for your clients? Then, once you’ve figured out that they did have a need, what made you decide that you were going to be the one to fill that gap that they were facing?
Henneke: I didn’t really decide that. They decided that for me. What happens, at that time, I was polishing my writing skills and I wanted to become a better writer. I was following my curiosity and I was writing about writing because I really found it interesting. I dug deeper, learned more and share it more.
Somehow, people just approached me and said, “Oh, can you help us with copy writing.” I was, “Umm, yeah, well actually, why not.” Thought about it, but not that I told them that.
It was actually my clients who made me realize that it was a need and that I could do that for them.
I think my combination of good marketing background and learning how to write was obviously a good one but I hadn’t quite realize that. I don’t want this to sound like I just did whatever came in my way. I was something that I did enjoy doing. I just hadn’t expect people to pay me to do it.
Sonia: Whenever they started coming to you and said, “You’re good at this. Can you help us and we’ll pay you. Can you help us to do this for our business approve blog?” Then, I guess that was a no-brainer for you to say, “Alright.”
Henneke: Yeah, I knew. I knew I could do it, I think. I just somehow lacked the confidence. You see, deep inside of me I can do it. Somehow I didn’t have the confidence to think, “Well, OK. I’m going to set up a copy writing business.”
Sonia: I want to just dive into that a little bit more, you mentioned that with your Copyblogger post, your first blog post that went up live. It’s is a theme around confidence. Whenever you start, you’ve got these skills, but sometimes whenever it comes time to do it for yourself, for your own business, you kind of hem and haw and wonder can you do it.
What got you over the confidence hump? Was it just reminding yourself that you were good at what you did? Or was it a combination of the external influences say, your clients who were saying, “We’ll hire you if you do this for us.“? How did you get to the point where like, “Yeah, I’m good at what I do.”
Henneke: That took a while, because with my first client I was still very nervous. I knew I could write because I’ve got a lot of positive feedback about it. I’d stick to the theory. I’ve this popular blog post. I’ve done some good work for websites.
When I found I had to Skype call or phone call with a client to discuss a project, I was all I think, “Oh, OK. Now, they’re going to find out that I’ve a weird accent and they won’t want to work with me.”
Yeah. That took me quite a long time to get over that idea that I as a non-native speaker could actually write good copy. Of course, I started using a proofreader so that if there any tiny mistakes that they would be ironed out. I don’t know. Did I answer to your question?
Sonia: You did. It’s just a matter of continuing to go through it. As you feel that fear and that nervous that you’re experiencing, you just still push forward with it. You don’t let it get the best of you.
Henneke: I always pushed a little forward. I don’t take big jumps, in my business, I started with writing blog posts then, I got confidence in my writing. Then I thought, “OK. Now, I have a lot of good feedback on these blog posts. I’m clearly writing something that people find it useful. Now, maybe I can put this in, in a book.”
I took the next step and it was a book. Gosh, I was scared about publishing my book. I thought it would suck.
Sonia: It was fabulous.
Henneke: I know it’s good. It has lots of five star reviews. I didn’t think that. I was nervous about it failing. You know how we are about correcting stuff. It’s scary. It was a little start from first blogging was scary at first, but once I’ve got used to that, I decided to go for a book.
Once I’ve got over the book self doubt, then I decided to develop a course. I think the step-by-step process is really a useful one to get over your fear, and to get continuous back as well.
For my book, for instance, I also got some beta readers who would ask people, “OK. What do you think?” Things like that just started a confidence boost. People say, “It’s good.” Then, I’m sure they’re right. You know it yourself it’s not bad, so I just keep going forward.
How to silence your critics
Sonia: Absolutely. It’s going to keep pushing, don’t stop. You mentioned that English is not your first language and I heard you say before that in your previous job, there were a few people who unfortunately teased you about your English.
They said it wasn’t proper English. Yet right now, your business is all about teaching people how to write for the Web and you’re doing that in English, ironically.
Henneke: Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s crazy, yeah.
Sonia: What did you do to silence those critics that might’ve been in your head from experiencing your coworkers talking about your English? I know you just mentioned also some of the self-doubt that you had with getting on Skype. How did you just put those things to bed and say, “I’m going to do this anyway.”?
Henneke: Yeah, It was mainly my boss who would make jokes about my accent. I don’t always get the pronunciation right words or the grammar right. Especially when I speak. When I write, I find it easier because you can correct yourself, but when I speak, I find it more difficult.
I don’t know. It’s very difficult sometimes to make those little critics shut up in your minds. When you’re curious, when you do something you enjoy, you just have to keep going. Initially, there was an elemental sort of, “Well, OK. I’m going to prove that I can do that. You don’t believe that I can make it, but I can do it.”
Sonia: You’re gonna sock it to ‘em. You’re going to show them.
Henneke: I think it’s also getting, finding like-minded people and getting feedback. It’s so important. It’s my readers, who are cheering me on quite often. Other people that you hear that go through the same struggles and self-doubt.
That’s just one of the things to realize it’s not just you, it’s quite normal. We just have to pick up the courage. Just go forward step-by-step. Don’t make it too big.
Sonia: Absolutely. As you’ve been going through the process of building in your business over these last two years, there are definitely high, highs that come with it, there might be some lows and some challenging days. What is it that keeps you going to push through in between those high, highs and those low, lows to keep progressing and moving forward?
Henneke: I really think it’s my readers, it’s my audience. The feeling that what I’m doing can maybe help out a few people, and can make a difference to their lives. I started just sharing copywriting tips. But, I found that a lot of my readers, it’s not about knowing exactly how to do it, it’s also having the confidence.
I started to write more about things like, “Self-doubt.” Finding the courage to move on. If some people get inspired by hearing my story, then I’m happy. That’s a good thing. That’s what it is about, solving other people’s problems. Helping them start in their business.
Why sometimes its harder to get moving in your own business than it is with a big company
Sonia: That’s awesome. That’s wonderful. What has been your biggest lesson learned as you’ve been going through this process in building a business? Henneke: I thought, “Wow, yes. If I’m on my own it’s going to be really good, I’m agile, decisive and we can move quickly.” But then, when you start you found out you’re about as agile as an elephant. You actually don’t get moving too quickly. Once you have to do everything on your own. You struggle with the self-doubt . You want to do everything perfect.
Then, there’s far too many things that you think you need to do to get started. This process of getting moving is far more difficult when you’re on your own, when you’re in a big company. Because, you have so many colleagues to help you out and you’re in that altogether.
That’s one of my biggest lessons on how to get started and letting go of perfectionism. Just focus on a couple of core things. I was used to work with marketing teams and big marketing plans. Well, that’s just out of the question. You can’t do that. You just have to get a few things right.
The truth about mistakes and the entrepreneurial learning curve
Sonia: Oh, that’s very useful. If you were able to go back and do anything differently, what would that be? Will it be related to letting go of that perfectionism earlier, or focusing, or what would that be?
Henneke: That’s a difficult question to answer because it’s easy to say, “Yes, I would have done things differently.” But, the truth of the day is everything is a learning experience. Even though you sometimes make mistakes and do things that maybe it were a waste of your effort, you learned from it.
One of the big things about building your own business is it is a huge learning curve. It is sometimes pretty steep. Even despite me having quite a lot of background in being part of the business. I was a company director, so I knew quite a lot about running a business, but even so, this was quite different.
We shouldn’t forget how much energy that takes to learn all these things and to going through all these learning curves.
I could say, yeah, I wasted my energy with being perfectionistic, or I wasted energy by blogging for too many small blogs that didn’t really generate many subscribers, but it was part of the learning experience.
By writing so many posts I just got better and understood things better. Then, I could go on and write even better post. It’s easy to say I do things differently, but they’re all part of the experience.
Sonia: Right. All part of the process?
Where entrepreneurs should focus their energy
Sonia: Now, if you had to give three words that describe your keys to success, what would they be? I know no one has ever to be able to just come up with one. If you had three to give, what would those be?
Henneke: My very first one would be, empathy. I think it’s often overlooked. I think, the success in the business is ultimately about understanding your audience. Learning from them. Understanding how you can help them. If you don’t have that basis right, then it’s very difficult to run a successful business.
That has been, especially my first year it has been a huge focus in understanding who I could help and how I could help them. It still is. I keep learning about people of course. That never stops. I think it’s very, very important.
What was my second? My second would be, focus. It’s very easy to get distracted by too many things and think that you have to learn a lot of things.
My focus in my first year was very much on improving my writing and getting to know more my audience.
In terms of marketing it was about building my email list through guest blogging, and then writing for my own blog. Yes, social media can be great but for me it was very much secondary, I didn’t spend a lot of time on that. I still don’t even have a Facebook account at this point and time.
I think focus is really important, you learn a lot more from improving a few core skills, then from trying to master a lot of skills. I think that strong focus on writing and learning more about it that has been really really good for me.
Sonia: Now, that’s definitely some great advice.
Henneke: I think the third one I would say maybe curiosity. I think if you do something and you’re not really curious about it, then it’s really difficult to stay committed and to keep going.
I think a lot of people talk about passion. I think passion is quite a big word. Follow your passion is well, OK, what’s my passion? If you’d have asked me three years, I wouldn’t have that clue.
I prefer curiosity, which is more low key, just follow your curiosity and see wherever it gets you. If you just do something to make money or because you think you can make money with it, I think it’s very, very difficult to keep up. I would always say build the business on something that you’re interested in, at least curious.
Sonia: That’s great wise words.
Henneke: I don’t feel that wise.
Sonia: You’re very wise, you’re very wise. Any parting words of wisdom that you have for those who are working on building their business now, and those who are dreaming of starting a business but haven’t yet made that leap yet?
Henneke: I think it’s about believing in yourself and just going for it, make that first step and be kind to yourself I would say as well, because we tend to beat ourselves up and think we need to know more or do things that are, we get angry about mistakes, or bad habits or things that we would do but then, can’t get up. But, I think there’s a balance between discipline and being kind to ourselves as well.
Sonia: Very good. What can we expect to see from you in the future? You’ve done so many wonderful things already, I’m sure more great things are on the horizon.
Henneke: Yeah, I’ve lots of great plans. I’m not sure how many I can implement and how quickly but yes. I am currently running a course for people who want to promote their business with a blog, it’s a blog writing course. I am going to develop a copywriting courses as well and this will be an intensive course.
Not self-study, really with lots of feedback to support with this. I think learning how to write and I’ve looked at a lot of courses and a lot of courses are just too hands off, and you can’t really learn how to write from reading a book.
I really like courses with small groups of people where I can really give them assignments and help them improve their writing by giving personal feedback.
There’s another course coming and then there’ll be some smaller self-study courses on developing as well as writing and finding your own voice and things like that.
Sonia: Very exciting. When you’re student I’m sure you’ll learn lots from you as I do, how awesome. All right, here’s one last bonus question for you just for fun.
I always think it’s cool to see what music does to people. Is there a specific song or a group that whenever you hear their music you just have to start dancing or if you’re at a party, when you hear a song you’ve just got to make your way to the dance floor whenever you hear a certain song or group?
Henneke: I’m not really a big dancer, but the song that came up in my mind is I Will Survive but not the original version, I like the version of Cake. Sonia: Cake OK. Henneke: Listen to that one it’s a bit different but it’s nice.
Sonia: We’re going to have to check that one out, I’ll put in the show and that’s for everyone. Awesome.
Thank you so much Henneke. It’s been great talking you and you’ve these wonderful words of wisdom that a lot of entrepreneurs both now and those who are going to be starting their business, can use to really make a splash, move forward and do great things with their work. Thank you.
Henneke: You’re welcome, it’s been great talking to you.
Getting the confidence you need to move forward
Sonia: Henneke gave us lots of words of wisdom, and one thing that stood out to me in particular was the importance of having courage to move forward – even when you aren’t 100% sure of yourself.
So that brings me to today’s question for you:
Henneke mentioned that when she was just getting started, she knew that if she could get a blog published on Copyblogger, she could escape her job.
What is one milestone that you can set for yourself as a marker to achieve – to give you the confidence and courage you need to move forward with the big dreams you have for your business.
If you are a writer, maybe that’s getting published in a certain publication, or getting a new client.
Think about it, and then put your answer in the comments. That’ll make it easy for us all to support you in your quest.
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Until next time, keep working on building your dream business so you can make life better. Somebody’s waiting on you. Thanks for watching.