Saturday, 22 November 2014

Global Entrepreneurship Week: Should You Build Your Empire Online?

Someone recently asked me a business-related question which instantly struck me as an awesome topic for one of my Global Entrepreneurship Week blog posts. I know that many people who find themselves called to be in service with their spiritual gifts struggle with this particular topic, so let's get stuck in!

Question: 'I am at the early stage of my Tarot career and all my work so far has been, with one exception, face-to-face and mainly with friends. It seems as though if I'm going to make a go of this as a business (focused on personal spiritual development/life coaching) I need to begin working online. However I'm not sure if this is the vibe or connection I want to create. I'm sure there are pros and cons to this..'

Answer: The first thing that strikes me about this question is your use of language. You're not sure if an online business is the 'vibe or connection' you want to create. It might be time to work out if you have certain preconceived notions about the online business/consumer experience. Maybe you feel that it has serious limitations, that it wouldn't permit you to let your authentic self shine through or that it just doesn't offer the degree of contact which you deem appropriate for the services you want to offer. There's nothing necessarily wrong with these beliefs. Many people refrain from doing online business for these reasons. But I would encourage you to probe and question any beliefs of this nature before committing to them. Maybe you just haven't given yourself a chance to see if your ideas stand up to scrutiny.

If you decide that you're open to the idea of working online, the next advisable step is to do some test readings. This is where you really get to solidify your ideas, experimenting and taking the process for a spin. You might like to try visiting the exchanges forum on Aeclectic Tarot and offering to do a few free readings for feedback. Alternatively, if you're on social media, you can offer a reading to an acquaintance or ask your friends to ask their friends if they'd like a free reading via email. Let them know that the reading is free of charge but that you are interested to know what their thoughts and responses are. (There are also some Facebook pages run by groups of people who offer short, free readings. You might like to try this avenue.)

As you are working on the readings and after you've sent them, check in with how you're feeling. Find out if you actually enjoy the process and feel that you're able to convey the messages of the cards clearly. The feedback from querents may also be a vital tool in determining whether or not the online process is for you.

I would then recommend asking people about their experiences with giving or receiving readings online. Talk to online readers to find out what they like and don't like so much about the process. Ask them why they work online. Talk to people who have employed an online reader. Talk to those who have received online and face-to-face readings; they can talk to you about how the experiences differ and what their overriding impressions have been. Remember that many online Tarot readers have testimonials from clients which you can check out. Testimonials offer plenty of evidence that people benefit hugely from online Tarot readings and they also dispel the myth that distance readings aren't worth their salt. (Of course, it's still important to work out how you feel about giving online readings and services. But looking at glowing testimonials may at least enable you to see how possible it really is to support someone profoundly via the magical power of the internet.)

I'd recommend getting real about the fact that giving online readings does differ from face-to-face readings in a number of ways. They are just different animals. For example, when you do a Skype reading, you need to hold up the cards so that the client can see them. When you work on an email reading, you can take your time when composing your response. You can pause, stretch your legs or sip a cup of tea, whereas face-to-face readings involve instantly communicating your ideas with no drawn out pauses. Email readings do not involve immediate and ongoing dialogue. You work from the client's notes but you cannot verify anything with them or ask them any additional questions 'in the moment'. These are just a few examples of the inherent differences. I also want to mention energetic connection; some readers feel that they connect and 'tune into the energies' of the querent differently depending on the method of contact. (I personally don't experience any difference, but many readers do. For example, the omission of the querent's body language and non-verbal responses during email readings means that some readers need to 'tune in' via a third eye activation or something similar.)

Once you've accepted the fact that these differences exist, you can work out which strengths you need to bring to online work and which to bring to face-to-face work. It's simple. Many readers offer their services face-to-face and online. They find that they just need to slip into a slightly different 'mode' for each so that they are really bringing their A-game.

You mentioned that it's become clear that you need to go online if you really want to make a go of your business. Whilst it's undeniable that you can reach a much larger audience online, I would urge you not to do something you're fundamentally uncomfortable with. Some people make a nice living reading exclusively for face-to-face clients, particularly if they also have other skills such as reiki, astrology guidance etcetera. I know a woman who's worked in a New Age shop for almost a decade and makes a good livelihood. She also gets involved with local festivals, hosts private parties and teaches Tarot to workshop groups but has never maintained an online presence and insists that she's not interested in doing so. It's possible.

But yes, the online scene is thriving right now and many people who can't find a suitable reader in close proximity hugely appreciate being able to source someone on the internet. Gone are the days when we needed to settle for connections which could take place on our home turf. This Tarot thing has been blown wide open! It's exciting and wondrous! If you can be a part of it, you should. But if it doesn't vibe with you, don't do it. You want your business to come from an authentic place and be truly enjoyable for you. If, deep down, you know that working online doesn't tickle your fancy, be honest with yourself about that and then consider other avenues for marketing your skills and getting the word out.

Another thing I need to point out is that the vast majority of Tarot readers who only offer face-to-face consultations still maintain a web presence. It makes sense. When someone receives a word of mouth recommendation, it often seems logical to tap the name into a search engine and find out more. Showing what you know and who you are online is therefore still worth doing although it won't be as integral to your business plan. You could even take advanced payments from people in your area online. Your booking system could be organised using a simple free platform.

Let me impart something else to you before I wrap this up.

One thing I love about the online business experience is that I can be very clear about what I offer and what my approach is like. Many people with only a basic understanding of Tarot are still stuck with a rigid, old-fashioned view of it. They think it's about predicting the future. They are not aware that Tarot has moved on in leaps and bounds, that it's often combined with counselling techniques these days and that it is used to help people design their future rather than discover its pre-written form.. I don't encounter these problems and I don't have to consistently explain my approach to every new client or prospect who comes along. The people who purchase my readings are already very aware of how I use the tool and this avoids confusion and enables me to connect with clients who can truly benefit from my services. For me, this is the reason that I actually prefer conducting readings online these days. Something to think about..

I hope this has been helpful!

Much love