Hula, the cultural dance of the Native Hawaiian people, is hardly the first example to come to mind when seeking business advice. As portrayed in popular culture, it’s all about flower garlands, flowing dresses, and really, really, ridiculously good-looking women.
Beyond the Hollywood portrayal of this ancient art form is a hidden cache of good guidance and instruction. After 28 years of dancing and nearly six years of running small businesses, I have learned three essential truths from hula that have influenced how I run my business.
1. You may need to educate your customers.
When I tell people that I dance hula, I typically get one of three responses. They:
make waves with their hands, shake their hips, and ask, “Like this?”
ask if I wear a grass skirt and coconut bra, or
stare at me blankly
Similarly, your potential consumers or clients may not understand how you are able to serve them. It’s up to you to teach your audience how to engage with your business in a manner that’s most helpful to them.
(For the record, the answers to the aforementioned questions are, “No, not really,” “No, but we do wear raffia skirts, which are similar,” and, “No, we do not wear a coconut bras, but Tahitian dancers do.”)
2. How you present yourself publicly impacts client trust.
When I am in public as a member of our dance group, I act the part of a professional hula dancer: I am groomed, I walk with my shoulders back, and I nearly always have a flower in my hair. These basic standards of appearance signify to the world that I am the real deal and I will provide an authentic hula experience.
In a comparable manner, the way you publicly present yourself and your business can impact your clients’ trust. For example, a poorly designed website design can drive away potential clients. In fact, according to a research study authored by Elizabeth Sillence, 94% of readers who distrust a website cite design problems as the main cause.
These days a poorly-considered tweet can bring down your whole empire. An image that conflicts with your message will dilute your brand.
This, of course, doesn’t mean you always have to be “on”, instead it means you should be cognizant of how you show up in public. Feel free to laze about in your bathrobe until noon or get ranty on the Internet on a personal profile. (On second thought, maybe get ranty in a journal or other physical medium—the Cloud never forgets!)
3. Passion can mean the difference between average and awesome.
There is a visible and tangible difference between a dancer who imbues her performance with emotion and one who is simply going through the motions. The one who expresses feeling in her dance elicits goosebumps, tears, and thunderous applause, whereas the one who does not—well, doesn’t.
Your potential clientele can feel when your work is buoyed by passion. When it is, your clients become raving fans of your brand and your business, effectively becoming the best ambassadors of your work. When it is not, there is good chance that you will not have repeat customers or good word-of-mouth marketing.
These lessons, unconventional though they may be, can help you bring in your ideal clientele, show up professionally for them, and deliver world-class service. (No coconuts required.)
This article has been edited and condensed.
Lynn Daue is an achievement strategist, author, and hula dancer. Through her books, programs, and workshops, she helps women clear the mental clutter, reclaim their lives, and make their dreams come true. Connect with @lynndaue on Twitter.