Guest Post by Amber Singleton Riviere

Many people want to build successful businesses, yet few are willing to put themselves out there in order to do so.  To grow a business by finding new customers and clients, a business can’t be a state secret.  Unfortunately, many business owners’ actions seem to suggest just that, and it generally stems from not wanting to be in the limelight and do those things that are foreign and uncomfortable.

Think of the most uncomfortable example of putting oneself out there – public speaking.  Public speaking offers some of the best opportunities for growing a business, like providing interviews to media outlets, speaking at conferences and seminars, and going to in-person networking events.  To take just one of those examples, providing interviews to media outlets is one of the best ways to put oneself or one’s company in front of the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time and at no cost to the individual or company, other than a small investment of time, yet few business owners use this to their advantage.  Why?  Most are just too nervous about talking in front of an audience or appearing in the media.

By seeking out opportunities that generally frighten others and by becoming “comfortable with being uncomfortable,” you can position yourself as the go-to expert in your particular niche.  As Seth Godin said in his book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, “Discomfort brings engagement and change.  Discomfort means you’re doing something that others [are] unlikely to do, because they’re busy hiding out in the comfortable zone.”

In order to grow your business and become known in your industry, you have to position yourself as an expert and you get comfortable with the idea of taking chances and putting yourself in front of others.  Those first few steps, however, can be the most intimidating ones to make, so how do you get started?

That’s actually the easy part!  Start small and think local, and local can mean participating in opportunities in your particular geographic area or opportunities within your reach, like blogs where you already know the site owner.  Approach a fellow blogger or podcaster, for instance, and pitch an idea for an article or podcast that you’d like to do on the person’s site.  Most site owners are constantly on the lookout for content and jump at opportunities to fill the gap.

Once you participate in a few smaller and local opportunities, you can start venturing out into unknown territory, like pitching your story and expertise to reporters on the free website Help a Reporter Out (HARO).  If you provide great content, media outlets might invite you back again and again or might even start approaching you for your expertise.

The most important thing to remember is that you have to venture outside of your comfort zone and be willing to put yourself out there so that customers and clients can find you.  Get comfortable with the uncomfortable, and a variety of doors and opportunities will present themselves to you!

Amber Singleton Riviere is the founder of Upstart Smart, a resource for small business owners, as well as the Rock Your Genius radio show, which focuses on small business and entrepreneurship.  She also runs the Give Back Project, a web design and marketing firm, and writes for websites like Web Worker Daily on topics relevant to small business owners.  You can find out about all of Amber’s work by visiting