I was so naive when I decided to go into business as a communication and speaking coach.

I had plenty of skills and loads of practice in my volunteer career. I felt really good about helping people with writing good messages, creating powerful speeches, and getting over the fear of actually speaking up in public.

But I had absolutely no clue that running a business is a totally different skill set from simply helping, encouraging, and empowering people to become more effective communicators.

The idea that I had to actually go out and promote myself and my skills was foreign to my experience. When I served in a volunteer capacity, people were eager to have my help; but getting people to actually pay me for that help? That’s a whole different ball game.

It was at the beginning of my business career when a mentor gave me one crucial piece of advice that I have never forgotten, and that I always share with my clients: Your mess is your message.

My mess was that I hadn’t even started speaking until I was four years old, was very shy and introverted growing up, and had a hard time standing up for myself when attacked or bullied by mean people.

The work I had to do, the skills I had to learn, and the systems I had to develop to become the confident communicator that I am today; those are the things that are also  crucial parts of my message.

So take a moment to reflect. If you are a coach, what was your mess? What did  you have to overcome to become the expert that you are today?

If your business involves selling various products, what messes do those products clean up? What excites you about helping people with those particular problems and  challenges?

Getting clarity about your mess and how you overcame it is a crucial preliminary step to developing a compelling message that resonates with your ideal audience. Go for it!!

And speaking of mentors and tips, click here to check out Warren Buffett’s #1 tip for entrepreneurs.