Are you hiding behind the “we”? I vs. we

Now that you’ve banished your info email address, let’s talk about another way you can be totally YOU in your business—authentic, transparent and uber-attractive.

I work with a lot of solo people/freelancers/indies. When I started doing design in 2002, everyone was trying to act like a multiple-person business. I got it. I was coming from a company too, and to impress people, bigger seemed better. In the “I vs. we” strategy, it seemed like “we” might be better.

But over the past 10 years, I’ve seen a shift, a revolution of sorts. Solo businesses are announcing their solo status from the rooftops, and companies are hiring them. There are so many reasons! Companies:

  • want specialists
  • don’t have time to deal with 15 people in your giant firm
  • know there’s added value: lower costs, less overhead, quick response
  • have to get on board or they’ll get left behind! (“Freelancers are 1 in every 3 workers,” says Sara Horowitz, Founder of the Freelancers Union.)

When to use “I”

Are you doing all the work? Is it just you behind the curtain? Do you feel like you’re acting bigger than you actually are? Would you feel liberated if you could talk honestly about what you do in your business—without feeling like you need to have a faux persona?

  • Is shyness stopping you? Is it hard to talk about your capabilities without hiding behind “we”? You do wonderful things! It’s time to fess up and talk about your skills and accomplishments candidly.
  • Know your capabilities. You don’t have to do everything! It’s incredibly freeing to do what you’re good at, and skip what you’re not. If someone asks you to do something you’re not good at, simply recommend someone who is.

When to use “we”

Do you have employees? Do you bring in a virtual team regularly? If you can call yourself “we” with a clear conscience, then do it! Just make sure you don’t forget to pack in your brand’s personality. “We” can have personality, too!

Implement your brand system-wide. No matter what you pick, make sure your language is consistent on your website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and newsletters. (You can even change your MailChimp default language!)

What about me? When you hire, me you get me. Yes, sometimes I bring in a developer. Yes, I have an accountant. Yes, I have a cat. Sure, I have outside help. But I am your contact. I do the work. I make sure my clients are totally thrilled with their web design.

Know where you’re going? It’s hard to be authentic without a clear view of your business. If you’re unhappy with the work you’re doing, or wonder if you’re attracting the right clients, watch this video from Jenny Poff on how to target your skills and be happy.

P.S. Clients can tell when you’re super happy and love what you do.

Ready? Go forth. Be yourself. Like my long-time client Mia Borja says, “Stand in front of your business.”

Here’s the very best part: The more transparent you are, the more attractive you are.

And if you need a website that shows off your real business, I’d love to help.

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3 thoughts on “Are you hiding behind the “we”? I vs. we

  1. Thanks for writing this, I’ve often struggled with the “I” vs “we” thing. I personally feel it’s disengenuous at best to say “we” when it’s just you, and plain old deceptive at worst. I personally have always just used “I” because it IS me 🙂

  2. It took me a few years to proudly use the “I” in my communications. Wish I had read this back when I started, but at least I’m there now.

  3. Great post, thank you. I’ve been thinking this for years and finally decided to come clean!!…we is actually I and my site is down as we speak to update the wording to reflect this. I agree it is liberating!

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