I’m back from holiday break and my sabbatical week and could not be more charged and excited. I’ve got some big things in store for 2015.

I mentioned that if I’d written a Best of 2014 post on December 27th, it would have been immediately outdated! That’s because I had a meeting on the 28th that changed everything. Everything that the seanwes brand is and will become in 2015 and beyond will change because of this one meeting. If you haven’t heard it yet, I had a dynamite episode on the podcast going into depth about the expansion plans (Related: e138 Reflecting on a Big Year That Will Soon Be Dwarfed).

There’s too much to explain here, but in short, I’m blowing the roof off of what seanwes is as a brand and expanding it into a highly selective network and platform. seanwes will mean more than just Sean McCabe. Like I said, there’s a lot of details surrounding this, so go check out that podcast episode if you want more.

Establishing Your Credibility

I mention this because I want to speak to the importance of your work in establishing credibility from the perspective of someone who is hiring. I hired 2 full time employees at the end of last year, I’m hiring another right now, and looking to bring on 3 more in the first half of this year. If I’m not being too ambitious, I may hire as many as 6 over the course of this year.

I mention that to say that not one of the people I have hired, or any of the people I will hire, will be because of credentials alone—it’s based on their their track record.

Questions I ask when I hire:
  • What have you done?
  • What have you made?
  • What have you written?
  • Who have you helped?
  • What problems have you solved?

I get people writing in saying, “How do I advertise my work or services? How do I get clients? How do I get people to trust me and to hire me?” There are two ways to establish yourself as knowledgeable:

  1. Credentials.
  2. Case studies.

The things is, credentials are essentially a piece of paper that says you know what you’re doing. That’s great, except the client is still left wanting to see that you know what you’re doing. They want proof.

Clients want examples of problems solved.

Show Your Work

Case studies show that you know what you’re doing. They document your process, they show what problems your past clients came to you with and how you solved them.

Guess what? I’ve never once been asked for credentials. People hire me because of my work. They hire me because of my track record.

Working for yourself is scary sometimes. That’s because it’s uncertain. Though that may be true, Seth Godin put out a great post called Uncertainty Is Not the Same Thing as Risk. In it, he says:

“It takes fortitude to live with a future that’s not clearly imagined, but it’s no reason not to apply.

Sure, making your own path is uncertain, but if you’re trying to work for yourself and you don’t have any work that shows potential clients that you know what you’re doing, the only thing you can count on is the certainty that credentials are not going to be enough to instill trust in a potential client.

Your work is your credibility.

Nothing is certain in the world of entrepreneurship, but if you display your work and show the steps you took to solve the problems (remember how you used to have to show your work in grade school math? Yeah, that actually matters). When you show your work, it instills trust and confidence with your potential clients and that’s going to go a lot further than credentials.