Last week something happened that proves a principle I'm constantly hammering home when I work with aspiring women entrepreneurs.
As you may know, in addition to teaching business skills, I have a consulting practice of my own advising companies on project rollouts and collaborating with thought leaders to write books, research studies, reports, case studies, etc.
So, I don’t just teach this, I live this.
I recently started the first of two projects for a client that will span the next 18 months.
This now means I’m booked out for the next year and a half.
And I don’t have a website for my consulting practice.
Or a business card.
Or a business name that I’m happy with.
And I don't market my consulting services on social media.
Every consulting client that I have gotten over the past 15 years has been through a referral from a former colleague or client.
Here’s how things have worked for me: I’ve shown up. I’ve done my work. People have presumably appreciated what I've brought to the table and have enjoyed working with me. Then the next time they or a friend are working on a project that could use my skills, they think of me.
That, my friends, is the big bold marketing strategy I have for my own consulting business.
Which brings me to a point I want to make about Beyoncé (I mean, isn't she always the point?).
#BeyChella wasn’t just a display of performance genius, it was the inevitable fruit of a woman and a team that have put in the work.
Let's talk about that part.
Aspiring entrepreneurs get more than enough advice on branding, websites, etc. that often leave them feeling like they're less than because they don't have a fancy storefront yet.
Are these things important? Yes, at a certain point (hint: not when you’re first starting). Are they essential? No. Because if you don’t have the substance to back all of that up, your on stage performance will fall short.
You're doing the work. You've developed mastery in your area of expertise. Keep pushing, showing up and serving, and then reinvest in your business with all of the fancy branding when you're ready. Or don't.
Here’s my mantra, and feel free to make it yours: Mastery first. Marketing second.
This isn’t about creating 15 minutes of business fame or just looking the part. It’s about building and launching a sustainable venture that can support you and speak for you for years to come.
Your work is your brand. Your reputation and relationships are your currency.
Your website? Your business cards? Your lead magnets? Those are all tools. And they’re meaningless without a solid foundation of you putting in the work.
So look at your work for a second today and think, how can I be the Beyoncé of things?
Hi, I'm Titilayo Tinubu Ali, Creator of Own Your Expertise, an entrepreneurship and leadership development company that gives women the tools to lean out of unhealthy workplaces and lean into business ownership when they're ready. Learn more about our work.