Are you ready to become a leader, expert or authority in your field? Are you ready to step up and own your efforts? Are you ready to become the boss in your own business?

Becoming boss: it’s time

When we’re first getting a handle on something, it’s highly useful to follow the teacher. It’s advantageous to have a period of apprenticeship where you learn the rules, study best practices, learn the language, and try, do, practice, rinse and repeat.

When I started my business in early 2008, I read article after article, email newsletter after email newsletter. I subscribed to all the industry leaders in email marketing. Once Facebook and social media started to emerge as a viable marketing channel, I immersed myself in the social media gurus, followed what they did, listened, read, tried, practiced and studied some more.

Eventually, it was time to graduate. Who decides it’s time to graduate? You do. Nobody else is qualified to graduate you.

Standing up, standing out

Never before in history have we had these opportunities – to be able to run a own businesses from our backpack, connect with the hearts and minds of so many people through a mobile phone, or run our own online publishing empires.

It’s a privilege to be in business for yourself, a privilege you squander when you follow the herd even though you know you feel differently, and when your pursue reassurance, safety and security at the expense of your intuition and creative self-expression.

Breaking up with the gurus

We aren’t in school anymore; no one is going to reassure us that we’re “doing it correctly”. If all you know is how to follow step-by-step instructions given by others, how will you ever learn?

Are you creating an independent business, which can stand on its own two feet, and create a bigger impact in the hearts and minds of its clients and community? Or are you simply following the leader?

Becoming your own cheer squad

Running your own business is an emotional rollercoaster. We may pour our hearts and souls into it. We may draw down our mortgage to support it, working days, nights and weekends. Our business may preoccupy our downtime and invade our dreams.

It can feel like a one-sided relationship where we pour so much love into it and get limited love back.

But our business is not a dog; it won’t love us back. It won’t give us emotional support, nor provide a loving shoulder to cry on.

We’ve got to be your own cheer squad. As CEO and Boss Lady, we have to ignite and inspire the troops, even if they are me, myself and I.

The boss doesn’t go crying to her subordinates when she’s had a bad day. She knows that a leader needs to inspire confidence, so therefore must act confidently. The boss seeks emotional support elsewhere.

Owning your opinion

Leaders own their opinion, loudly and proudly. Bosses aren’t afraid to go against the grain. They don’t apologise or seek permission to say what they see as truth.

How often do you censor yourself in business? How often do you water down your true opinions for fear of putting people off-side? How many times have you looked at dominant players in your field, or people you admire and thought, “do I have to say that, look like that, or be interested in those things, to be as good as they are?”

Stop. You don’t need to adapt an opinion, a style or an angle that isn’t yours. To be a leader you need to foster confidence in your opinion – your very own one.

Practice makes perfect

Mother Theresa had strong opinions. Martin Luther King had opinions that changed the course of history. You don’t need to be brazen, loud, or bombastic, nor manipulatively controversial or antagonistic. You already have opinions. You just need to give yourself permission to share them, and to turn up the volume.

If you’re not used to being openly opinionated, you’ll find it difficult and excruciatingly public. There’s only one way to get over this – it gets far easier with practice (trust me on that).

Why do you do what you do? And what’s in it for me? Why should I care about why you do what you do? What’s wrong that needs to change? How do you propose it be improved?

Say it out loud. Say it outside of your lounge room. Own your opinion and set it free. Opinions need to be exercised, examined, tested, refined and expressed.

Leaders, legends and laggards

Conversations, connections and buzz power your marketing. Make it real; give it legs; let the crowd take your ideas to inspire their own.

Leaders innovate. Leaders are energetic, inspired, creative and provoke the best in others.

Legends are relentless, driven, obsessive, sometimes provocative, frequently collaborative, and certainly revolutionary in hindsight. Leaders and legends power businesses that drive enduring, systemic change, that sets new standards and changes the prevalent conversation in its sector.

Laggards seek constant reassurance out of fear that there is some golden path of business certainty that everyone is privy to (except them). Laggards would do anything to avoid a mistake and so don’t like to try lest given a directive by a thought leader. Laggards kill their creativity, imagination and honesty through relentless negative self-talk.

Is it time you started trusting your gut? Time to move beyond the gurus and become your own master? Is it time your took a bold stand to keep your values and beliefs congruent with your business? Are you ready to become the CEO?