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The online world is loud, chaotic and overwhelming. It’s hard to stand out when there are so many others trying to do the same thing. It almost feels like a shouting match out there. It can get tiring and quickly become boring or tiresome.

Because of this, it can be hard to run your dream business successfully. Once you fall in the trap of ‘modeling’ your mentors too closely, authenticity goes out the window. What’s worse is that you end up feeling like a fraud.

The truth is that the word ‘authentic’ has been so overused lately, it kind of lost its meaning. Many people have forgotten what it really means to be authentic.

If you want to bring more authenticity to your business (instead of appearing like a ‘cookie-cutter’ entrepreneur), read on to find out what it takes.

1. Learn to be yourself

I know I know…it sounds too straightforward. But the reality is, as simple as it sounds, most people aren’t being themselves. That’s why I’m including this as the number one step to be more authentic.

Think of it this way, if you’re constantly editing your thoughts, you’re not being yourself.

When you post on social media and participate in discussions in Facebook groups, do you go in talking to people as if they were your friends? Or, do you suddenly put on your ‘social media mask’ to make yourself sound as professional as possible? Really think about this. Chances are you’re putting on a mask.

The goal here is to get you to take off that mask. The simplest way to do this is to literally picture yourself talking to one of your closest friends and use the same type of words in your posts as you’d use while having a conversation with them.

PRO TIP: Before writing your copy (for your posts or whatever), pretend you’re talking to a friend and say what you want to say out loud. The way you express yourself here should be the way you express yourself in your copy. Okay, maybe minus the ‘ums’, but you get the picture.

2. Bring a unique element to your brand

Your brand is the face of your business. So naturally, this is the next place where you need to bring in more authenticity.

No matter how you look at it, being authentic makes you stand out. And standing out online makes you money. And the best way for your brand to stand out is to inject more of your personality into it.

First, determine what makes you unique and bring those unique elements into your branding. Think in terms of what you really love that you don’t really share with others.

Your brand should reflect your personality. I know I said your brand is the face of your business, but you are your brand as an entrepreneur, so really you are the face of your business.

When creating your branding, consider your likes, values and aspirations. What do you believe in above anything else? Use that in everything you do. What you have to realize is that your brand is not just about the aesthetics (although those are important too). It’s also about what you talk about, the words you choose and how you live your life.

PRO TIP: Create a Pinterest vision board of what you’d like your brand to look and feel like. You can make this a secret board, so only you can see it. Add your favourite colour palettes, objects you adore, places you love, clothes you’d love to wear and so on. Make sure when you’re actually creating your branding that it’s cohesive. Start using the same elements everywhere, including your website, your newsletters, your social media posts etc. By being consistent you will build brand recognition and that’s how you’ll stand out.

3. Stop comparing yourself to others

I know this is a tough one, especially when you’re still new in business and haven’t had any clients. You just can’t help it sometimes. I get it. But comparing yourself is literally the thief of joy. Just like that famous quote said by Theodore Roosevelt.

The thing is that when you compare yourself to others, you’re robbing yourself of joy because it becomes like a poisonous game. You keep looking at those who are ahead of you, appearing ten times more successful and you feel sick with envy. But what you don’t know is how they got there. You don’t know their story or how they previously might have suffered to get to where they are.

Most of the time, your business idols won’t share the truth of how long it took them to get their first client. They want to create an illusion that they were successful right away because it makes them look good. And if they look good, you’re more likely to buy whatever it is they’re selling.

The point is, they all had to start somewhere. NOBODY was ever successful right at the start of their business. In fact, some of the most successful people on earth failed multiple times before they hit a breakthrough. So please cut yourself some slack and stop comparing yourself to others.

PRO TIP: The best way to stop comparing yourself to others is to practice sharing your own story. Talk about your journey to your audience because nobody else will have that same story. That’s a sure way to be authentic.

4. Practice creativity

Believe it or not, we humans are all creative beings. Some people just experience blocked creativity, that’s why they go around saying, “Oh I’m just not creative”. Or they’re simply misguided about what it means to be creative. Contrary to popular belief, creativity doesn’t just apply to art. Being creative means thinking outside the box, coming up with new ideas or solving problems, to name a few. If you feel stuck in this area, there are many ways to boost your creativity.

You’ll be amazed how creative you can become when you practice going outside your comfort zone, for example. Think of some of your daily habits. I’m sure there are things that you do every day on a routine basis. Those things become like second nature to you requiring little to no thought process. The effect of this is what I like to call ‘lazy brain’. When you do things the same way every day, your brain becomes lazy. It gets so used to the mundane tasks that it no longer needs to try hard. That’s why you end up stuck for creative ideas.

So even though it’s convenient to have a bit of a routine in your daily life, shake things up a little every now and then. Try setting up a new morning ritual every couple of weeks or so. Eat completely different food for breakfast than you’re used to. Take a different route to your grocery store. Anything to change things up and get your brain thinking a little harder. Force it to be creative. Go out of your comfort zone as often as possible. You’ll feel invigorated and your creative juices will start flowing.

Make sure to read my previous post on 3 Ways to be more creative.

5. Stop copying others

One of the biggest mistakes new entrepreneurs make is modeling their mentors too closely. They find someone they really look up to and in a way want to be like them. So they study every move they make and start to ‘model’ them, but what they really end up doing is copying them.

They use their language, their ideas and even build their website to look like theirs. The problem with that is that when you ‘model’ someone that closely, you end up looking like a copycat. Needless to say, this is not the way to authenticity.

So next time you need to create your website, your graphics for social media or any type of content for your business, do yourself a favour and shut down all other websites. Close all Internet tabs, don’t look at anyone else’s work and go within. Don’t do the old “Oh let’s just have a quick look at how they did it, so I can get some ideas” and then get stuck looking at their stuff word for word.

It’s fine to look for inspiration, but make that a separate time from when you’re in your creative mode. So let’s say you need to write your ‘About’ page. Perhaps you have no idea what to say. Okay, go on to others’ websites and read a few to get an idea of what it should include. But then, step away from the computer and go for a walk or something. Maybe do some meditation or yoga.

After this break, go back to your computer but DO NOT open the internet. Just decide what you want to share with your audience and start writing. Remember that it doesn’t have to look like others’ at all. In fact, the more unique it is the more authentic you’ll be.

PRO TIP: Always carry a little notepad in your purse. Creative ideas come to us all the time at the most unexpected times. Sometimes by the time you get home, you end up forgetting them. This way you can jot down any new idea that comes to mind wherever you are. Keeping an ‘idea notebook’ will help you come up with more ideas!