‘How can I make mine look bigger?’

It seems that insecurities about size and shape abound among business owners. And the little question of size is one that pops up regularly. But does it matter?

When talking marketing with solo business owners, especially those just starting up, a common question is “How can I make my business appear larger?”

The premise of the question being that bigger is better. Phrases such as “Fake it till you make it” and “Sell the sizzle, not the steak” are two examples of common advice on this topic. But to me, the underlying suggestion is that you need to bull#$% your way to success.

Smoke and mirrors don’t fool people for long

These days, customers are sceptical by default and their bull detectors are so finely tuned that they spot inauthenticity from a mile away.

Even with the glossiest website and marketing, it will take a prospect 10 minutes of Googling to discover if your sales pitch matches the reality. There’s no need, then, to be the “worlds best”; you just need to be who you claim.

To be successful you don’t have to be big, established since 1992 or have dozens of testimonials. You don’t need to have a London office, a boardroom, a degree, a personal assistant, a ‘team’, a suite of integrated solutions or be Australia’s #1 bloke.

Regardless of size, successful businesses are great at solving problems, satisfying demand, meeting expectations and delivering value for money.

More steak, less sizzle

Don’t focus on being bigger. Focus on being better, and play to your real strengths. Gain credibility by offering substance, consistency and quality.

Marketing should present the very best – and true – version of you and your business. It may well gloss over perceived weaknesses, but shouldn’t be full of hot air. Like telling lies in your résumé or spinning stories on a date, it might get you a gig but it’s not the basis for long-term success.

Sure, sell the sizzle, but first make sure you’ve got the steak.

Do you feel pressure to bluff about the size of your business?

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