The Business You Are Really In

Everybody wants to be a rockstar.

Grab a microphone, stand in front of a group of people, tell a few stories, get a standing ovation, hop on a plane and go to the next city. And have people pay you to do it.

There is an entire organization – The National Speakers Association – dedicated to helping people fulfill this dream. Thousands of people, many of whom have cobbled together portions of time-management talks created by others, are looking to cash a check and travel on someone else’s dime.

Nice work if you can get it. Most of them can’t.

Professional speaking is no different from any other profession in that way. If the business owner focuses on his/her needs instead of the needs of the end user, they fail. The lawyer who spends 18 hours each day studying and applying the law, wondering why nobody knows who she is. The entrepreneur who opens a doughnut shop because he loves to bake. The Triathlete who opens a sporting goods store. Don’t get me wrong, loving your job is fine, but that’s not a reason to start a business. The reason you start a business is to fill a huge need in the market. There is no huge need for professional speakers.

If you have a thought about jumping on a stage and speaking to a crowd, answer these two questions first:

What problem are you solving for the people in the audience?

How is that solution different from what everyone else is offering?

Your job, as a professional speaker or as a lawyer, or as a baker, is to figure out what problem you can solve in a new and novel way.

Here’s the truth: You are in the sales and marketing business.

Your personality, your brand, the way you offer help to people, that’s the business you are really in. Once you you figure that out, you can be whatever you want.

Leverage your talent to present your unique approach to solving a really important problem and you will get paid to talk to people.

You’re not a professional speaker. You are not a lawyer. You’re not a baker. You are a professional problem-solver.

I don’t need another time management speaker. I need help getting home, on time, for dinner.

P.S. If you want a simple tip to turn a a speech into new business, here’s a portion of a session I did earlier this year where I share how to get clients from a speaking engagement.