This year’s big Oscar winner was The King’s Speech, taking awards for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Direction, and Best Writing (original screenplay).
When I saw the movie a few weeks ago, I was certainly inspired by the heartwarming tale of a man with a speech impediment finding his true voice.
But, as a solo entrepreneur, I was also moved by the way Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) runs his business.
This character is quite clearly doing work he loves on his own terms, providing an invaluable service to his customers, and having great success at it. One of the main reasons I started an online business was to do just that. If you’re running an online business and reading Copyblogger, I’ll bet you have the same desires.
So what can we learn from Lionel Logue?
Provide quality without compromise
Throughout his work with the soon-to-be king (known as Bertie), Lionel shows absolute confidence in his approaches, even though his methods are unorthodox and continually called into question. He isn’t willing to compromise because he knows he’s offering effective, top-notch services.
As online entrepreneurs, it’s easy to get caught up in grabbing sales just for the sake of sales. If that means diluting the quality of your offerings to pander to the masses, why not?
Well, because in the long run, this technique will fail. No repeat customers. No glowing word-of-mouth recommendations.
Your reputation is everything, and that’s even more true in the social-media-connected world. So get absolutely clear and confident that you’re offering something of extraordinary value, and don’t compromise.
Let ‘em go
In their first meeting, Bertie is frustrated by Lionel’s unusual techniques. So much so, that Bertie eventually loses his temper and leaves the meeting.
Lionel doesn’t beg him to stay. And he doesn’t harass him with follow-up offers in the coming days. It doesn’t take long for Bertie to realize that Lionel was offering something unique that could be the only answer to his problems, and he comes back to continue the work.
It’s easy to panic when you see unsubscribes from your newsletter, or a dip in blog traffic. There is a temptation to cling to these people for dear life and try to force them back into your fold.
Resist the temptation and let them go. Have faith in the good work you are doing. (If you’re not doing good work, revisit the first point.)
Keep delivering extraordinary value and find the people who are a better fit for what you offer. Don’t waste your energy and talent trying to work with the wrong people.
Make it personal
One of the most important aspects of Lionel’s approach to speech therapy is connecting to his clients on a personal, emotional level. He strives to create an environment where he and his clients are equals, and he works to understand the emotional history of his client’s problems. Bertie’s major breakthroughs come as a direct result of this approach.
When you’re running an online business, your potential clients won’t know you as a flesh and blood human being unless you make that a priority.
Find ways to connect with your audience and customers on a personal level. You might do this by sharing a personal story in a blog post or creating a video that showcases your quirks. Use venues like Twitter and Facebook to show your “after hours” side.
It’s even more important that you take time to understand who your potential buyers are on a personal level.
What makes them tick? What are their fears and desires? Why on earth do they want what you’re selling?
No, you don’t have to share every detail of your life on Twitter. (In fact, please don’t.) But social media gives solo entrepreneurs and micro companies a huge advantage — the ability to showcase a personal approach that’s nothing like the usual drivel they hear from big corporations.
Results trump credentials
A slight spoiler alert here, but one of my favorite parts in the movie is finding out that Lionel isn’t a trained, licensed doctor.
At first, Bertie is upset by this. But when Lionel talks about his experience and his deep passion for what he does, Bertie knows that the credentials don’t really matter. Besides, he’s seen firsthand what Lionel can do. At the end of the day, results are far more important than credentials.
If you have sparkling credentials, that’s awesome. But they are no substitute for the quality of the goods and services you offer.
And if you happen to lack a long list of titles and certifications, don’t let that hold you back. Your experience and the results you can create for your customers are what truly matter.
The Bertie character in the film was certainly brave. But for me, the real hero was Lionel — the passionate, caring, capable businessman who helped his customer through a difficult time.
How about you? Have you seen these principles lived out in your own business? Let us know about it in the comments.
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