You’ve lovingly created your online courses, even built some services around your topic of expertise; but at the back of your mind you always have this tiny sense of anxiety, a little niggling of fear ‘what if I’m not good enough?’, ‘What if I ever get an unhappy customer?’!
The fear of the unhappy customer. Gulp.
It’s a fear that can stop many edupreneurs from ever getting their content out there. But it shouldn’t stop us. We can never please everyone, but it’s also not at all nice when it does happen. I know, I’ve been there.
What To Do If The Worst Happens
Sometimes – just sometimes, our biggest fears, the things we are most afraid of can actually happen.
For me, the single best way of overcoming this feeling of ‘being rubbish and not good enough’ is to over-deliver, over-help and be the kindest, most useful person anyone has ever come across. And honestly, I immediately feel better about everything from my skills and knowledge to my entire existence.
When I feel down about my abilities, I go out of my way to FIND people that I can help. I look for questions that I can answer in Facebook groups, I scroll through forums and seek questions being asked specifically about things I know how to do.
There is no greater affirmation of your innate abilities than showing yourself that you have a tonne of answers to questions other people are asking, and for them to thank you for the information and enlightenment.
In fact, it is my moments of complete self-doubt that have actually caused the greatest shifts in my success.
In early 2016 I gave birth to my long awaited baby daughter, Chloe. As much as my husband and I had been trying to bring her into the world for 3 years and I longed for her with every ounce of my being, I was still terrified about how I was going to cope with upholding my professional castle, whilst adjusting to my new role of ‘mummy’, especially since we had no family whatsoever on the same side of planet earth as us.
I was on edge, my self-efficacy was crumbling and I was very very afraid.
There has never been a time in my life where I felt more like ‘I can’t do this’. And then, the absolute worst happened.
Just as I was holding my newborn baby in my arms, my company got its first ever unhappy customer in over a decade. To add an extra layer of horrifying terror to the already soul-crushing situation, said unhappy customer immediately went on an almighty and entirely overactive public tirade about the ugly PowerPoint presentation she had received (it was pretty ugly).
In business we all have to deal with the crazy customers, but to have your first one in a decade at the same time as already dealing with self-doubt AND having your hands spectacularly tied by a bundle of love at 3am on a Saturday night when you literally cannot do anything to resolve the situation, can really push a girl over the edge!
This situation literally threw me into the hormone fuelled grasp of severe anxiety as I read her hate mail and public abuse (even after I had given her a full refund!).
Afterall, I had told the world I was an expert. I had categorised myself as the best in the business. I had positioned myself, my company and my team as spectacular. I had built a following of wonderful supporters who believed me as I had believed myself from a decade of successful results.
For anyone who’s course creation and edupreneurial mojo is feeling a little distant, this experience was for me the equivalent of it combusting into a cataclysmic scatter bomb and taking my soul into hell with it’s own remains. Dramatic? Yes. True? Most certainly.
This situation is every edupreneurs absolute nightmare.
But here’s where it gets interesting and why I can now look back at this situation and wish that I could thank this customer for what has turned into one of the biggest turning points to the rise of my most recent success.
After overcoming my initial reaction to run, hide and give up, I took stock of the facts.
If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, reflect on the following:
- Remember why you started
- Remember what you love
- Remember all of the people over the years that you have helped
- Remember that you DO know a metric tonne of stuff that is super helpful to others
- Remember that you can make a positive difference to more people
- Remember that you are a good person
I went through these reflections myself and came to one conclusion:
All I have to do is keep proving it. (That I AM good at what I do).
To keep proving it, all I have to do is serve, give and help. (Show them; show them all).
Nobody hates a helpful giver.
I was so worried that this person’s comments to others would damage my name and my work (yes I gave ONE person this much power in a time that I was weak), that I decided the only way I could recover was to show the entire world to just how wrong this customer was.
I imagined her saying to someone ‘That Sarah is rubbish’, and then imagined that the people she was saying it to simply looking at her like she was bonkers and then presenting to her a million ways that I had helped them and helped others with lots of helpful content and transformational courses.
Achieving this meant more than telling people that my company and I were great at what we did.
It meant more than fighting her tirade.
It actually meant forgetting her altogether and going full-throttle into my ‘do what I came onto earth to accomplish’ mission.
She thought that discrediting someone was to say unjustified mean things about them. All I had to do to counter her unjustified aggression was to make it just that – by PROVING through the act of undeniable, factual, quantifiable evidence that I was none of the things I was imagining that she might have been saying about me in the big easily manipulated world.
I tapped into my inner knowledge vault.
I shared and shared and shared.
I helped and helped and helped.
I went out of my way to serve others.
I created streams of blog posts, articles, videos, courses, spoke at events for free, gave my knowledge and advice freely and made an absolute point of being the leading edupreneur that I’d promised myself, my team and my industry that I was.
I have to admit, that all of this initially derived from a place of survival. From a starting point of fear – but the real ‘happy ending’ and immense learning outcome from this story was about to present itself….
There is always a happy ending for the Edupreneur…
Suddenly, the messages of gratitude began flooding in. My inbox became inundated with people saying how much my content had been helping them.
My course sales went up dramatically, my following increased by more than 3,000% in just a couple of months, we couldn’t keep up with the enquiries and business and I had to hire 5 new people as well as turn business away.
My notifications of people tagging me in Facebook groups as ‘the guru’ in my field were out of control, I was being approached by podcasters and conference organisers to speak for their audiences and before I knew it, the place I thought I’d lost really was gone – now I was levels higher than before the entire debacle even started.
The power of giving had just shown itself to me in ways I could never have expected.
I was forced into an internal sense of urgency to SHOW the world what I had, what I could do, who I was and what I cared about and I did it without reservation.
The results of giving my knowledge away and showing people that I could help them not only made the whole thing fizzle out and improve my business; but believe it or not also made the woman in question get back in touch a few months later and apologise profusely for her ‘unprofessional reaction’ and actually say the words ‘because it’s evident from everything you’ve been doing just how much you care about your customers and how good you are at what you do, I’m sorry’.
As I responded with genuine gratitude to this customer, I suddenly realised that having a delicate mojo was actually the very essence of my strength.
And do you know what Edupreneur? It’s yours too. So if you’re afraid of a crazy customer and it’s holding you back even just the tiniest bit – remember that this is your strength – the fact that you care, the fact your heart is in the game, the fact that you show concern for the results you provide says EVERYTHING about who you are.
The most successful Edupreneurs are those who have hearts, as this is the essence of our giving.
I always believed in ‘giving is getting’, and have always been a ‘speculate to accumulate’ kind of entrepreneur. But this experience showed me unequivocally, that the more you give, the more everyone gets.