Speaking Career or Speaking Business, Which do You Choose?

By Jane Atkinson

When you meet someone on a plane and they ask what do you do, what do you say?

– I am a speaker.

– I am a coach.

– I am a consultant.

As you’ve probably heard me say before, I go once a quarter to a group called Strategic Coach, which really has me thinking through every aspect of my business. We examine our time management, processes, customer service (front stage and back stage), goals and on and on. Over the past six years, every time someone in my group asked me what I did, I would respond, “I am a coach for professional speakers”. But recently I’ve realized that coaching is just one of the ways that I transfer my knowledge.

By saying “I’m a coach” I’m selling myself short.

I am a business owner who helps professional speakers catapult their businesses. I have books, courses, masterminds, live events and private coaching for people who speak for a living. Coaching is how this small business got started. So, I’m working on answering that question differently.

How do you think of yourself?

Do you talk about how you are an expert on your topic area and how you help people?

There’s a paradigm shift that we’ve been talking about in the speaking world for a while now – which moves you out of “speaker” mode and into “expert” mode. (Props to Mark Sanborn who first introduced us to this idea).

I think we can take it one step further and start thinking of ourselves as business owners.

Not even small business owners, because many of us will outgrow that term.

Speaking business

I recently interviewed Randy Pennington for my podcast and we talked about how to build a 30-year speaking career. But what we were really talking about was how to build a 30-year business. Randy talked about his business strategy as well as all of the numbers that he keeps his eye on. His Profit and Loss statement, his expenses, his gross vs. his net. Are you keeping your eyes on the bottom line of your business?

It’s difficult to shift your way of thinking of yourself, but I really just wanted to start the idea in motion for you if it wasn’t already on your radar.