THE ROYAL WE AND YOUR BUSINESS

Way back when I started my business (in the days when the Internet was powered by squirrels in exercise wheels and nearly all websites were blue), I spent a lot of time in online forums and other sites that catered to the small-business crowd. Like the rest of the denizens, I was looking for sound advice. Frankly, I found little.

But I still remember that one conundrum really seemed to vex visitors to those sites. “When writing about my business, should I use ‘I’ or ‘we’?” Oh, there were impassioned arguments about this topic, and I see the same arguments today on sites that cater to budding entrepreneurs. So what is the answer?

While the posters absolutely agonized and fought ferociously over their preferences, my opinion is that it’s no big deal.

It really depends on the image you need to portray to your customers and prospects. If they’re going to be more comfortable dealing with a larger company – or if your plans are to grow your company to include several people – use “we.” In my case, part of what differentiates my business is that I’m a one-man, home-based operation, which means my clients get the quality they need without the expensive overhead. Saying “I” reinforces that. I’m not trying to fool anyone into thinking I have a 50-person operation in my opulent global headquarters basement.

Now, if you’re not careful, what’s known as “the royal We” can make you sound a bit like Queen Victoria, and We are not amused.

But if you’re planning to start a business and are agonizing over the “we” or “I” argument, stop. Concentrate on something more important, such as what you’re going to do to make your business succeed. Believe me, the pronoun you select will pale in comparison to what you do for your customers.

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