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Authentic Marketing

Soft Life Era: How to Build Your Business Without Losing Yourself

If you’ve found this article while searching for ways to create a soft life, welcome and congratulations! It takes a brave soul to admit and commit to looking for a different way to do things in our personal and professional lives. The decision we make to live a different way and the unknown road to get there is a scary one. You’re searching for a change because you know life must be worth more than hustle culture. You’re not alone – there are lots of other people just like you, on the brink of burnout (again).

I’m here to introduce you to a different way of doing things and when you’re ready to radically shift your worldview and your outlook towards a life of simplicity and contentment – I’ll be here to share my ‘whys’ as a coach for small business owners. Maybe something in what follows will be the change you need, the validation that there is a different way to do things or maybe it is the seed that will slowly, steadily grow roots until you’re ready to take the step towards a richer, softer life.

If you’re looking for a small business marketing coach or a coach who can help you take quantum leaps to tap into your authentic offering, you’ve come to the right corner of the internet.

The term soft life came to life in 2022 and has gained significant traction in the last couple of years. Millennials and Gen-Zers’ are waking up to the effects of hustle culture and negative institutional structures in the capitalist structure of labour economies. Practically every other day, I come across accounts online, or people in real life, talking about their awakening to lead a different kind of life.

I’ve strived personally since having my first kid in 2018 to find a way to live my life, free of bosses and arbitrary multi-  6 and 7-figure financial goals, but full of contentment, freedom to travel, enjoy my kids and pay the bills. It is possible, you might not believe it yet – but you will.

Why are we searching for a soft life?

Soft life is the rejection of modern capitalist ideals of “hustle culture” and bro marketers that advocate for a very specific formula to create wealth. One that perpetuates the toxic cycle of worth and wealth as synonymous, with very little room for any other definition of success. This toxic social concept of meritocracy has caused many problems amongst Millennials and Gen-Z populous who are steadily awakening to the idea of reconnecting with our environment.

There has been a resurgence of social loneliness in the wake of COVID, we are fatigued by the superficial reactions to our perfectly curated online micro-systems. This applies to business owners – particularly solopreneurs and micro teams who are competing for space online with industry giants. But people are waking up, and there is a burning desire for us to rediscover our humanity in the way we shop, socialise and perceive success. People are craving real-life interactions and a slower, more human-centric approach to working in harmony with our natural cycles and rhythms. We are stepping out of gruelling, demanding corporate work structures that are a precursor to co-morbidities, sickness and imbalanced stress systems.

What does ‘soft life’ even mean?

Soft life means stepping away from hustle culture, prescribing to a lifestyle that promotes ease, and balance in our health and our work, leaning into well-being, leaning out of toxic money chasing and centering contentment – not cash at all costs. A life without struggle and stress. I use the term ‘Rich Life, Soft Life’ as the name of my twelve-week course for business owners at the beginning of their journey.

I teach people their intuition and their desires are not unfathomable, unobtainable or unachievable – but we can very often mask our true desires by seeking the success of our neighbours. To lead a life that feels full of space, abundant in non-materialistic wealth, fun to lead, that centres human connection and says a big NO, to burnout – we’ve got to tap into all of who we are.

That might mean exploring our shadow-self and identifying our strengths and our weaknesses. All too often, people think we cannot do the thing we desire because we lack something- this individualistic world lens has dazzled us when we were made to build within and for the community. We have become so stuck within the realms of our own immediate needs, that we are unable to pool resources to collectively move forward in our business.

What is small business burnout?

Small business burnout is the lack of focus, drive and performance from small business owners due to the myriad tasks they’re often faced with trying to “get ahead” in business. There has been a sharp upturn of claims from entrepreneurs online about six-figure, seven-figure and multi-figure success in the online social media world in the last couple of years and despite the claims often not being supported by reliable evidence, there has been a toxic implication for the wide range of small businesses online that are working in a way that supports different goals or values different metrics, seemingly incomparable to the financial milestones of other self-proclaimed small businesses meeting the six and seven figure goals.

The reality is, that no one size or formula is guaranteed to bring every single business this kind of financial success, but the inability to step away from comparison can cause distress and anxiety for those who want to do things a different way or have different reasons and values for their business and its purpose.

Small business burnout is common amongst a shockingly high amount of people with small businesses. It seems that every other day, someone is speaking about the physical and mental burnout they experienced from various stressors in their lives. With a mixture of personal and professional commitments to leave perceived “employed security”, high financial stakes to transition from side hustle to fully fledged business boss, the precarity of finding customers and clients and the one-person source of innovation and creativity; it’s no wonder millions of people in the realm of self-employment face burnout. 

Social media has to be understood as a source of some of the dissociation many business owners feel. The reality is, there’s immense stress and burden for anyone who prescribes to the modern-day measure of entrepreneurial success.

As a Gen-Z baby myself, I’ve experienced many symptoms of modern society and have taken steps to dig into my purpose on this earth to work in a way that brings me harmony – not chaos. As a business owner small business marketing expert and entrepreneur, I’m already somewhat used to redefining my working life. After five years in business and two children, the shape of what works and doesn’t has led to radical shifts and quantum leaps in who I am, the morals I stand upon and who I’m here to serve.

Small business success strategies for a soft life

One of the simplest ways we can experience small business success is by really taking the time to centre ourselves in our marketing strategies (yes, probably against everything you’ve ever been taught), but hear me out. Meeting your ideal customer where they’re at is crucial, but who you are and how your energy is showing up online is just as important in helping you attract the customers you want.

I meet with business owners every week who have absolutely no idea why they are on Instagram – or even if their ideal client can find them there. As a small business marketing consultant, I spend time reviewing the marketing strategies of small businesses. First taking time to understand the personal position of the client in front of me. It can be a steep learning curve for many business owners, but doing something because everyone else is, is a surefire way to freeze, not foster connection.

Understanding why you’re the right person to help is part of the formula, but how and where that’s communicated could be on lots of different forums. This is where your research is critical to know what it says about where “your people” are showing up. Not only is it important to look at our external environment when showing up to “lay out our stall” of services or products – it’s critical to listen to what our body is saying feels good. Not everybody is best placed on camera, some people are better at formulating emails or evidencing their skillset by offering a “clinic” or advice on an audio podcast or at an in-person event.

Small business marketing expert

If you’re ready to build a business or make a radical transformation in how you market your business, aligning with the right kind of community is important. Your values need to be considered in the next steps you choose to take. Stepping away from prescriptive safety is a tough pill for small business owners to swallow – maybe even an act of bravery.

I launched Rich Life, Soft Life because it was very obvious that the types of business owners I love to work with were struggling with going against the grain when trying to build their businesses. Particularly during the first couple of years of entrepreneurship, standing tall in your brilliance can be daunting.

As a holistic, human-first copywriter, I centre true connections across all of my offerings. I’m not a demi-god, nor am I trying to be one. I’m here to hold you accountable, every step of the way, but I’m also here to help you build something based on your image of happiness and contentment, not mine.

The coaching course runs for 12 weeks and is delivered on a one-to-one basis. Your very own expert helping you build your business and get visible in a way that works in harmony with you!

What is a life coach?

As a copywriter, unearthing the passion of people in their business has gone hand in hand with them sharing their fears too. Feelings of unworthiness, precarity, uncertainty, fear and failure. I’ve had the honour of supporting these business owners to find brand clarity – and it opened the door for me to expand my offering as a small business coach for women. I was so uncertain and so unsure about how to show up and sell myself as a multi-hyphenate, for so many years and so many reasons. It’s daunting to not fit in any box – especially at the start of your business journey. Having a small business marketing expert support you with your mental blocks; challenging you with compassion about how you show up and what you’re worth, combined with steps to create your best marketing efforts, align with your soul calling and your ideal client is transformational (even if I say so myself).

A life coach is someone who will hold space for you to open the door on those disavowed parts of yourself and hold the mirror up for you to find the truth of your circumstance. We rarely, truly need the answers from an outside source, we simply need someone to hold our hand while the inauthentic parts we are so committed, to fall away. 

Small business branding

There is so much opportunity to play with your small business branding when you set out. It makes me bubble with excitement! Nobody is doing what you do, or how you do it, but do you believe it? Digging down into what feels good for you in terms of how you show up and where is equally important if not more than who you’re trying to reach. The feelings of ambivalence and fear that make us freeze, are often attached to a feeling of being found out as a fraud when we are unsure of who we really are. It’s important to do your research before launching into every venture about the audience you intend to serve, but we’ve also got to nail down what makes us feel worthy and connected with what we’re offering too.

Building your business with the visualisation of the feeling you want it to give you whenever you establish yourself is key to making sure your principles are centred on contentment and joy, not just toxic comparison. This is one of the biggest steps you can take towards building your soft life.

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Authentic Marketing

Authentic Marketing Approaches Your Nervous System Will Thank You For

I don’t know any entrepreneurs who haven’t felt overwhelmed when tackling the beast that is: marketing their business. If you’re here, it’s because you’re someone who wants it to be authentic marketing, too.

Even if you’re the most confident voice in the room, knowing what works in your business, and moves the needle towards success (the definition I’m applying here is coming shortly). It can still bring certain somatic responses if we don’t use marketing in a way that feels ethical and not completely cringe and energy-sapping. Authentic marketing requires forethought, testing and logical reasoning.

What is business success?

The reality is, that we all set out in business intending to offer something we love to others. To find people who hopefully share our enthusiasm and passion for what we offer and can be helped in their lives with the solution we provide. What success means to you is personal (always happy to hear from you if you have a thought or an idea to share), but for clarity here, the term “success” means:

  • Gaining new customers.
  • Continuing to work with customers that you already have a relationship with.
  • Sales.
  • New, engaged subscribers.
  • Earning enough to pay your bills and enjoy life outside of work (a little, at least!).
  • New, collaborative opportunities to teach and share your knowledge.

Separating ourselves from panic when we’re trying to: survive and pay staff invoices, meet the customer’s needs, find transparent and ethical suppliers, and service providers, enjoy some kind of life outside of work and reinvest in whatever brings us sales can be a challenging and stressful task.

Remaining objective when it comes to making a living can be tricky. Failure is such a scary thought, especially when we’re already going against the grain to build something of our own and not rely solely on a paycheck.

The Performance Trap of Misaligned Marketing

So, we get our heads down and “get down to business”, but somewhere along the line we realise people are executing their vision with strategy underpinning it (who knew!?) and we sit up to pay attention because we realise, maybe we should be doing that too.

But what is the best method to apply marketing strategies to our business venture? Whose approach looks most replicable? How do we know which tools to use and when do we know it’s time to find help; whether that be a community or specialist, a team member or even someone in the same industry as us in a skill exchange – helping us sustain what we’ve built or grow to the next level.

This article is focused on authentic marketing solutions. I hope you finish reading it feeling as though it helped you logically consider the questions above. Keep reading to see if anything resonates and helps you find ease in how you market your business. At the very least, I hope you have the outline of an authentic marketing strategy to use as a road map – bringing you back in line with what you’re trying to cultivate.

What’s your personality and how to use it in authentic marketing?

I want you to take a moment to think about the type of personality you are: High-energy, crowded room type of personality, or a slow, connected, curated dinner, kind of person? 

Could the platforms you use to build a presence be out of integrity with who you are and more importantly, is the energy you invest showing up on them significantly moving the needle in your business?

If it is, great. Compare it to wherever else you’re showing up and look at those impressions, insights and more importantly events that occur as a result of what you’re sharing (I define “events” as the tangible outcomes: leads, sales, partnership, direct outreach action, opportunity).

What is the best method to apply authentic marketing strategies to your business venture?

It’s so crazy to think we’re worrying about not gaining traction on our social media results when none of us are experts. Heck, the number of people I speak to about their online presence, entrepreneurs that cringe about having to go ‘live’, fatigued after spending hours on Canva, getting lost in editing rabbit holes to make reels with perfect transitions, and others, screaming at their carousels when they notice a spelling mistake, after meticulously sizing it to post.

There is a lot to be said about ignoring our body’s signals to stop. There is even more to be gained from slowing down to notice what feels good in our bodies and subsequently our business.

If it isn’t making you feel good, what would it look like to simply stop? Stop showing up in that place, or at least drastically reduce the frequency and amount of energy you’re spending there and redirect it to whatever is the lead marketing tool for you. Go on, close your eyes and imagine for a minute.

Did your chest just loosen, and your shoulders relax at the thought of getting rid of that extra task? Okay, so maybe we’re on to something. If your worry is about stopping cold turkey, handing that task off, or at least allocating a smaller percentage of time to it could be a rewarding step.

So, whose authentic marketing approach looks most replicable? 

“Comparison is the death of joy”, a famous person once said. I’m inclined to agree for the most part, but here’s where I offer a different perspective. We just reflected on our personality types, and I’d dare to say whether you’re an introvert, extrovert or ambivert, there is someone else in your industry or space who feels exactly the way you do about marketing – love it or hate it.

I’m not telling you to copy someone you see that you aspire to be like, but it is sometimes helpful to look at how and where they show up. This can help you get a sense of what feels good to you as well, maybe even inspired by how or what they share: but the real question is, do you have the feeling of possibility and the commitment to show up on that platform and in a sustainable way, for you? If you’re already coming up with objections – it’s probably not right for you.

It took me so long to realise where my strengths lay, and even longer to prioritise authentic marketing approaches that played to my strengths. When I took a step back to look at where I moved the needle in my business, and how; two things became clear:

  1. people value my professional insights, they respect my opinion, and they recommend me because of it.
  2. Gathering social proof, offering advice and networking are three of my strongest skills – they are the foundations of my authentic marketing strategies.

How do I know which digital marketing tools to use?

Once we know where we’ve found/can find success in our marketing we can replicate the process with tools that help us achieve this on repeat.

For me, that looks like a lot of systems and automation BTS (behind the scenes). If you’re not quite there yet just think of the things in your day-to-day world that make your life easier! I for example use Convert Kit, Calendly, VidYard, Typeform and Stripe as everyday systems to make my job easier, either by giving me more time or directly as the marketing tool.

Next, think about the practical tools that match your personality. Here is an example:

If you nurture a lovely list of people in a small community (hey, subscribiessss!); with weekly newsletters, membership platforms and groups, or regular meetings IRL. 

  • What are the tools that help you achieve that?
  • Can those tools be used more efficiently to maximise the outcomes they bring for you?
  • Is the tool + time spent, something that informs, engages and nurtures those connections?
  • How much time in the week are you dedicating to your marketing channels based on the proven return?
  • Are those tasks permanently scheduled in your diary and do you factor in time to receive feedback and measure outcomes?

Here’s another example: If you’re somebody who thrives by networking; do you have something scheduled at regular intervals that gets you in a room of potential opportunities? What things do you need to succeed in that room: 

  • An elevator pitch? 
  • Contact cards?
  • Some research before attending about who is who.

So, when do we know it’s time to find business help and expertise?

This is really a matter of personal priorities and risk. The availability of resources around you – to either ask for or pay for help. Can you do skill swaps and other community-driven exchanges too, sure. But for the purpose of this article, let’s assume: 

– You’re operating/ creating/ delivering in a way that defines you as a business owner.

– You’ve answered all the questions we covered earlier in the article and now it’s time to draw up a plan.

Now we know what moves the needle in our business; (website traffic, networking, crazy TikToks and reels), we can do more with our time to focus our authentic marketing efforts on those platforms. But depending on what we’ve found out, how do we redirect our efforts from platforms that weren’t moving our bottom line? It’s time to think strategically about those authentic marketing methods that have proven to bring better value to our ideal client and less stress to us, so we can show them what the hell we’re here to do and convert them.

Depending on what landed as your most successful marketing stream, you might be jumping for joy or woefully worrying about not wanting to show up. Well, take this as your first indicator of if now is the time to seek help.

Some reflective prompts to help you reach a decision:

Is it something that you could do and would enjoy with the right guidance? If the answer is yes maybe you need a specialist that can stand alongside you to advise, strategise and leave you with a plan to execute.

Perhaps it’s something you can’t bear the thought of tackling any longer, in which case, maybe it’s time to outsource entirely.

Feeling confident in your strategy on the identified platform(s)? Think about documenting those processes for someone less senior to take the reins.

Could you redefine boundaries on time spent, to test what type of content gains traction and content that it’s time to leave behind?

What to do next?

From here, you should have a pretty good idea of your content pillars. You can do it old school with the old “brainstorm”, and “thought cloud” method. Think about what your ideal customer is struggling with so you can demonstrate expertise with a solution share, or dip your toe and test A.I with some prompts to generate content ideas on your chosen platform that you can use, lose or refuse.

The freedom you should feel after these steps (strides if we’re being honest), could be the difference to how your business feels this year and I’m sure your body will thank you for that!

Enjoyed what you’ve read? Why not sign up for my weekly newsletter? Dark Side of The Light Chasers, in it, I offer insights about how to leverage data to get ahead in your biz and occasional updates about my life in Barcelona! 

Dee x.