Me vs we: compelling reasons why small is beautiful when writing about your business

There’s a lot to think about when you’re starting a new business – least of all, getting your messaging right.

What’s your target market? Who are you trying to reach? And how do you stand out?

If you’re not a writer by trade, it’s tough.

I work with many ambitious business owners who’ve left the confines of a steady job for the bright lights and freedom of self-employment.

They usually come to me for help writing their website – and if you’ve been in their position, you’ll understand.

We can all write, but when it comes to talking about yourself – and particularly why you’re so great at what you do that people should buy from you – that British oh-god-I-just-can’t-it’s-all-too-cringy self-consciousness kicks in.

Information overload

And while no one knows your business like you do, that in itself can be problematic.

There’s so much you want to say, you simply don’t know where to start.

What makes you different? What do your customers need to know that will convince them to buy from you rather than your competitors?

You want to sound credible and capable, but it’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance.

What if you get it wrong?

You can’t see the wood for the trees.

Stand out from the crowd

Whatever industry you’re in – and whether you’re selling a product or a service – people deal with people, and personality in your marketing is vital.

Many businesses confuse the need to sound professional with sounding dull.

First drafts are often too wordy, too dense and too dry.

They lack sparkle, structure and brevity.

That special magic that makes them leap off the page and shout “pick me!” (without the desperation of actually saying it. That’d be all kinds of wrong.).

When you’re writing about your business, one of the questions I’m most often asked is whether to be open about being a sole trader and use me or to hide behind the guise of a larger business and use we.

Me vs we

Many sole traders decide to use the royal we (see the panel below) when they’re describing their business. It’s something I’m asked about a lot, and in almost all cases, I try to dissuade them.

Sure, in certain circumstances there are advantages of appearing to be a bigger company than you really are.

It could help you compete for a large contract.

But there’s nothing to stop you saying you call upon a team of trusted experts when you need to. (And no good can come of starting a working relationship based on anything other than honesty.)

Business today – good business, at least – is about authenticity, openness, and transparency.

Being proud of who you are and what you do, rather than pretending to be something you’re not.

If your business is just you, don’t be afraid to say so.

Here’s why…

Confidence: using I and me rather than us and we in your marketing materials communicates self-belief. It may not be very British to say you’re amazing at what you do, but if you don’t believe it on at least some level, perhaps you should consider a change of career.

Consistency: your clients and customers know they can expect a consistently high standard of work, delivered by you, and no one else. Chances are, that’s why they picked you in the first place.

Continuity: Rather than being passed from person to person, your clients get to develop a relationship with an expert. We’ve all experienced the disappointment of being sold to by the business owner, only to find ourselves dealing with an intern or junior member of the team when it comes to delivering the work. It’s not the path to excellent service.

Cost: Small can mean more affordable. It’s not always the case, but smaller businesses usually have lower overheads – which often means lower rates.

It takes guts to say, “I am my business. I may be small, but my god I’m good at what I do – and you’ll be glad you picked me”.

Do you have the confidence to stand alone?

Bonus language lesson

Sometimes called ‘the majestic plural’, the expression ‘the royal we’ describes the use of the plural pronoun we in place of the singular pronoun, I when expressing a personal opinion.

The more common word for the use of we, us, or our instead of I, me or my is nosism.

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