Advertising my business has always been quite difficult for me, as it involves ME selling my craft, and MY skill at teaching that craft, to the public. In other words, I have to say that I am worth paying for! As most practitioners of the arts will tell you, we are usually perfectionists who are never satisfied with our own level of teaching/dancing, and are forever striving to achieve that elusive perfection. Looking back to my earlier days as principal of a dancing school, my advertising was always very tame, and basically stated what classes we offered. As my business has grown, I have been dragged, kicking and screaming, into the role of ‘Managing Director’. I have attended Business Seminars, Networking Breakfasts, and long lectures from my son and brother, who are both very successful businessmen! I have had ‘counselling sessions’ with my husband, who is a therapist, on looking at my own feelings of self-worth, and why I find it so difficult to promote myself. Strangely enough, with all his training in the field of therapy, he has the same issues when selling his own business – which, of course, is himself. My friend, who is a self-employed interpreter for the deaf, has the same feeling. Why do we struggle to say what we do is worthy of peoples time and money? I think it is a mixture of childhood feelings, left over from experiences which caused us lack of self-esteem and confidence in ourselves (a subject that I am very interested in), and the fact that we offer a service, not a concrete ‘thing’ they can physically put in a bag and take away. Perhaps our services aren’t life-saving (although I could argue that point on many levels), and therefore not considered a necessity by those who don’t understand the depth of our work. My husband has helped many clients on the brink of true desolation, my friend has interpreted in hospitals, prisons and colleges, and I am constantly being told that I have helped children and young people fulfill careers, dreams, and develop self-confidence and self-esteem. Yet, we still struggle to say ‘I am good at this’.
However, in the last few years, I believe I am overcoming this lack of self-belief, and now happily promote my school and celebrate the achievements of my students. Could this also be because, after all these years, 25 to be precise, I can now see the fruits of my labours? I have students dancing all over the world, who have danced at Covent Garden, The Royal Albert Hall and Sadlers Wells. Although I still have many moments when I doubt myself, completing this MA is one of them (!), and I know I will always have to strive to be better, I think I can now say ‘I am worth it’.
I have, this morning, written a press release to newspapers, and local TV channels telling them of our Grand Ball. An event to celebrate my schools 25th Anniversary. Although I have learned over the years how to write a successful press release, this time I have done it with pride!