Hi again! Welcome to this week's Small Biz Betties, where I'll be waxing poetical on how to know when you have taken the leap and become a "professional" in your field.
It's a hard question to answer, because we often downplay our skills, knowledge, and accomplishments, or use personal measuring sticks that may have nothing at all to do with how others view us. We also don't want to seem like we're bragging, or trying to "talk the talk without walking the walk."
So when are you a professional? Ask yourself this question...
Do you make a living at your chosen profession?
That is, are you able to support yourself and/or your family by working in your professional field, be it selling vintage, designing collectible pony figurines, making jewelry, etc? If you are earning enough to pay your bills, chances are you know what the hell you're talking about when it comes to vintage, pony figurines, or jewelry.
We should make the distinction between a professional and an expert. A professional is not necessarily but often is an expert, but an expert is not necessarily a professional. In the costuming world, there are definitely expert seamstresses, textile experts, tatting and lacemaking experts, hairstyling experts, but perhaps these people do not work in the clothing and textile industries, or cosmotology, museum, or manufacturing industries. Professional seamstresses, lacemakers, etc., not only know their subjects inside and out, but operate in production environments with demands placed upon them unheard of in hobbyist circles. And don't forget...they make a living doing it.
Often times we don't think of ourselves as professionals, particularly when first starting out. It is so easy to negate your knowledge and lose confidence when working with others - suppliers, banks, even customers - but as you work through the day-to-day issues that crop up in all small businesses, you will get better and better at being "the boss," and learn ever more about your industry and how to get things done.
|You don't have to look like this|
to be a "professional woman."
Somewhere along your journey you may also find someone dismissing your knowledge, expertise, experience, and professional opinion, at which point you will know for sure if you consider yourself a professional or not. This recently happened to me and I was so pissed about it that it very clearly answered my own questions and misgivings about my role in my life/career/my own company.
Very importantly, it is okay to embrace being a professional and project that. You *need* to project it, especially to your customers, because if you don't have confidence in your abilities, why should they? Build your business, your confidence, and your knowledge, and next thing you know, you'll be a professional, making money, and working on an illustrious career.
If you have questions you'd like answered, or are a small business owner and would like to guest post for SBB, drop me a line - firstname.lastname@example.org .