In my old neighbourhood, you could yell “Olly Olly Oxen Free” and everyone would come out of hiding. I don’t know why it worked, but it was common knowledge that it meant the game was over, dinner was ready, the street lights were on, or someone’s big sister had come to pick them up. It also meant you couldn’t be tagged, chased, or ‘it’.
Come out of hiding, you’re safe. (Of course I googled it, and I’ll tell you where it came from in a minute).
Olly Olly Oxen Free. I wish it was that easy, to come out of hiding. “Putting it all out there” is important when you’re promoting a business, but for many people, it doesn’t come naturally. Of course I want to be top of mind when a start-up or entrepreneur is struggling with wordblocks and wants to hire a copywriter. But life is fast with lots of noise, and it feels like I need to do a LOT of promoting to stay in mind, let alone top of. So I make a lot of lists. When really, what I need to do, is get out there.
That can be hard. Not only do you need to explain what you do, but you need to explain it really clearly. Which means you have to know, and admit, and articulate what you’re good at, and decide, very specifically, how you want to spend your time working. You need to know what kind of clients you want to work with. And you need to know why. Whether you’re a barrista or a barrister, something is driving you to show up each day and do the work. Something is pulling you, not just the paycheque. Knowing that Why is a very important part of business strategy, making decisions, finding clients, and delivering the goods.
Declaring your Why takes guts. Especially when your business is you: your way of working what you love to do. Promoting your business means stating your talents, your style, and your voice. Running your business means asking for work and declaring its value. Marketing means putting it out there and opening yourself up to feedback (that’s the gentle term). Entrepreneurship is definitely hard and scary – a bit like joining those late evening, take-no-prisoners games of hide and seek throughout Wychwood Park.
And then you find a group of muddy kids who are happy to Olly Olly Oxen Free you. In business, that looks like a group of friends, masterminds, association members or a virtual community that gets what you do, respects how you do it, and cheers you on. You get to come out of hiding, and feel free to be you. Freezies all around.
Who’s out there for you – coaxing you out and keeping you safe?
It turns out Olly Olly Oxen Free probably comes from the German “Alle alle auch sind frei” which loosely translates into “All all are now also free”. Music to my introvert ears.
For a few more tips on promoting your business, even when it goes against you nature, I’d love you to grab Out There For Introverts – it’s filled with tips that have helped me get out there without feeling like a fraud. It’s totally free and totally oxen.