Yesterday I challenged you to make a big long list of your interests and skills to help you zero in on an idea for your cannabis business. But I know how hard it can be to take yourself seriously enough to go for it. So today I want to talk about this idea of being an Expert.
Because you're probably thinking you need to be one and it's stopping you from taking action. Expert - we hear the term expert thrown around all the time. But what does it even mean? When do you know that you’ve achieved expert status? Is it after some undisclosed number of degrees or years of experience? Do you need to be well known to qualify for expert status?
I wanted to sit with this a little bit because I feel like the idea of expertise is something that scares a lot of would-be entrepreneurs away. It’s just human nature. No matter how skilled or knowledgeable you are, most people would never think they know enough to be an expert, much less call themselves one on the internet.
But, if I’m honest, I think the word has lost its meaning in recent years. If you look at the way the word “expert” is most often used in online marketing it could truly be used interchangeably with “guide.” It’s a catch-all term for understanding or knowing something that the reader does not yet know or understand themselves. At least not at this point in their experience.
If we follow this train of thought down the line, your expertise becomes less about achieving or obtaining a requisite level of knowledge and more about what you can teach or do for your customers. In other words, you don’t have to know everything to be an expert in a given subject. You just need to know a little bit more than your ideal customer to be seen as an expert from their perspective.
Of course, you should always strive to be the most knowledgeable and experienced entrepreneur in your niche. But as long as you stay ahead of your target audience, you will be seen as an expert by them. So expert is a relative term, really.
But if you’re still struggling to see yourself as an expert who is worthy of a successful business, here are five ways to be more comfortable with the idea of positioning yourself as an expert in your niche of the market.
Most people, especially women, tend to downplay their expertise almost as a reflex. One reason is that our society doesn’t like it when people act like know-it-alls. Yet, in a lot of ways, that’s what we all aspire to be if we aspire to attain expert-level knowledge.
But you don’t have to do that; don’t apologize for what you do and do not know and don’t wait until you feel like you know everything about your niche topic to consider yourself worthy of an audience. Instead, I want you to consider the difference between being an expert and having expertise in your area of interest.
An expert learns all their life about what they want to be an expert in. All of that knowledge is just as useful on its own as it is collectively. As you learn, you are gaining expertise. It’s the accumulation of this expertise that creates an expert. Therefore, you already have some expertise to work with and, if you keep learning, you’ll naturally become an expert on your topic.
So you don’t have to know everything as long as you recognize that you’re off to a great start and make a commitment to keep learning and growing. Reading up about your niche for even five minutes a day is enough to put you leaps and bounds ahead of someone just getting started in the subject. And that expertise could be very valuable to them. Therefore, it is most definitely marketable knowledge.
One of the ways to become an expert quickly in the eyes of your target audience is to focus most of your efforts on learning about their problems as well as the solutions that are out there to solve them. In other words, you don’t have to know enough to solve the problem for them. You just need to know enough to point them towards the right resources.
If you really think about it, teaching someone is almost never about what you know. It’s about what they don’t. And it’s about helping them bridge that gap in the most efficient and effective way you can. If someone is coming to you for guidance about using cannabis for a cancerous tumor you don’t need to be an Oncologist. But you do need to know where to find relevant peer-reviewed articles, a great therapist, and a cannabis-positive team of doctors who can help them create a treatment plan.
This brings me to the third way to become more comfortable with calling yourself an expert...
An expert always knows how to cite relevant facts from reliable sources. In the cannabis world, this means fully understanding how to conduct research using scientific peer-reviewed journals. But it also means knowing who to turn to for industry-related statistics and hard market data. And, from a people-pleasing perspective, it also means staying top of trends in your niche of the market. Know where your audience likes to find their non-scientific information and make it a practice of quoting those sources when you talk to them in your blog posts, on social media, or wherever else you engage with them.
And knowing how to quickly and efficiently back up your statement with facts will help you make peace with my fourth point here…
One thing to accept right now is that you will never know everything about your niche topic. The main reason is that we all have blinders on. You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it.
In other words, no matter how well informed you may be, the odds are that there are incredible facts about your area of expertise that you don’t even know exist and you won’t until someone else tells you about it. It’s almost impossible to know everything about anything. So stop trying.
If you wait to start a business until you know everything about the topic you’re teaching, you’ll never go for it. It’s ok to say that you don’t have the answer to something. Being an expert doesn’t mean that you’re all-knowing. If someone asks you a question and you don’t have an answer for them, leverage the learning opportunity. Make it a point to research the answer and share what you learned. It’s genuine, it’s human, and it’s a great way to add a personal touch and build relationships with your audience.
This leads me to my fifth and final point …
Just like most people who have a passion for a topic. You likely have that for your chosen niche. You know a lot more than you think you do simply from reading, experiencing the problems and solutions in your own life. Your knowledge and experience are cumulative, and for that reason, you probably know a lot more than you think you do so give yourself more credit. There is always going to be someone out there who will benefit from your unique understanding, knowledge, and history. To them, you are already an expert.
Whether you aspire to be an advocate educator or an industry service provider your unique life experiences put you in a position to help people who do not share your exact knowledge and skillset. As long as you are a few steps ahead of your audience, and you are just as dedicated to learning and growing as you are helping your clients do the same, you have what it takes to position yourself as an authority in your niche of the cannabis industry.
So, there you have it. Five ways to feel more comfortable calling yourself an expert. Being an expert is a relative term. You may not be a licensed doctor or cultivator, but your past experiences and relationship with cannabis puts you in a unique position to educate. No matter where you feel like you are now, being an expert is less about having all the answers and more about making a commitment to continue learning for a lifetime. Plus, you only need to know slightly more than your target audience to be a successful guide.
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