Being an entrepreneur has taught me many lessons. Many of them were painful. I often found myself frequently saying or thinking "a-ha". I am a serial entrepreneur and I have been in my current business since 2009. I took me a while to finally decide that I was willing to do whatever it takes to grow a profitable business so I could do the work of my heart. I was longing for freedom of expression and something that allowed me to live a fairly simple life with lots of time in nature. I imagined that it would be easy to put myself and my transformative gifts out into the world. I thought if I built it, they would come.
My entrepreneurial journey started off full of a passion (and naiveté). I look at what I have since learned along this journey that would have been good to know when I optimistically hung my coaching shingle and waited eagerly for my clients to show up. Instead, I stumbled around, listened to more trainings than I can possibly recall, tried this and that strategy, learned plenty of nuggets from multiple (and often conflicting sources), purchased home-study programs, participated in many coaching groups and invested in one-on-one coaching.
In this post I am sharing a bit of what I have learned to help you smooth your journey of growing a booming business. I think that it can save you some time, money, and frustration along the way.
Be a B.O.– not a H.O.
A B.O. is a Business Owner who invests, takes risks and does whatever it takes. A H.O. is a Hobbyist Owner who loves to dream and believe; however, does not take massive action. You will need to spend the bulk of your time focused on running your business. Once you accept that truth, you can decide with open eyes whether entrepreneurship is really right for you.
When your business grows big, you can delegate a lot of the day-to-day things of running the business and focus your creative energies on visioning and doing that thing you love to do. Until then, it is probably just you—wearing multiple hats first and foremost. Lucky for you, there are several business models and ways to creatively design how you deliver your gifts to the world and one of them will be a great fit for you.
Being an entrepreneur will grow you in ways you could never imagine.
Whenever you care deeply about anything, that relationship changes you if you allow it. Think of it like a marriage of sorts.
Your business will bring you up against all the places in you that are small, scared, constricted, and unconsciously rooted in scarcity. You will be tempted to run away, go into hiding, second guess your calling, and become consumed with mindless distractions. You will jump from one bright shiny program to another, hoping it will give you the secret ticket to overnight six-figure success and rescue you from having to do the challenging inner work. It is a journey of becoming and, if you stick with it, you will overcome many limiting beliefs and blossom into a wise and powerful woman.
Growing a business takes longer than you anticipated.
Most women aren't able to grow a solid sustainable business overnight, no matter how many affirmations you cite or how many hours you work. With a good deal of mother wit, you may reap a considerable payday here and there. But generating a random lump of income does not a sustainable business make. And following another person's proven blueprint for success will only carry you so far. There are so many puffed-up promises in the online business world regarding how if you just think big, set heroic goals, execute this one secret strategy, and sprinkle fairy dust on the whole thing, and you will move into the diamond lane and surpass all the unenlightened women on your way to accelerated business success. Right.
Think of how an oak tree grows from an acorn to a tree. It's journey is slow so that it can sink deep roots into the earth–roots that will eventually support a solid trunk and an abundance of branches. If the tree grows too rapidly, it ends up lanky and top heavy and subject to toppling over when the winds blow. Give your business the time, attention, and love it needs.
Businesses require a monetary investment.
Big businesses have access to capital, investors, or deep pockets. You need access to financial resources if you want to progress. Be willing to invest financial resources to grow your business. This could be a chunk of savings set aside to help you get your business going or friends/family willing to loan or gift you the money you need. You are likely to invest your money toward learning and support that will actually help grow your business and generate ongoing income.
Unfortunately, it is easy to throw money at the wrong-for-you support, only to be disappointed and with less cash, in your pocket. Eventually, many entrepreneurs discover their financial resources have run dry. Things can then either turn hopeless or you get infused with a new level of commitment that inspires you to get very creative and resourceful. You realize how important your work is to you and you realize that you are willing to do whatever it takes.
Focus on and invest for the various business stages.
We do not expect a toddler to know how to run a marathon when still figuring out how to walk, right? Yet, many emerging entrepreneurs attempt to emulate what mature businesses are doing because it seems to be working. When they are unable to produce the same results, they take it personally. As it turns out, there is nothing wrong with them. They simply used a good strategy at the wrong time (for them).
There are stages of business growth and it is important that you know which stage you are in. Knowing this will save you money as you pursue business support programs that are akin to trying to teach a 5-year-old how to drive. If you are an emerging entrepreneur, your business is going to look quite different from someone who has been in business for five or ten years. The way you promote your business, your offers, the way you enroll clients into working with you, your focus, the support needed all significantly vary depending on where you are in your business growth. I would have saved myself several thousand dollars had I just known this when I started my business.
Seek help from mentors.
You can bootstrap some of your learning and business growth in the early stages. But you will never get a full, integrated, and individualized map by consuming an endless stream of bite-sized free trainings. Think of it like you are at Costco trying to piece together a satisfying and nourishing meal simply by devouring enough of their free samples.
Working with a mentor shortcuts the laborious trial-and-error process. There are a lot of moving parts to being an entrepreneur. I didn’t believe this initially and I spent tons of money on both home study and group programs where the person leading it didn’t know me from the other program participants. Without individualized attention, I spun in place for three years…even though I have a MBA degree. I burned through far too much money.
Do your due diligence and then invest in the very best mentoring and right-for-you support that you can.
Take action sooner rather than later.
Learning and researching are useful up to a point, yet you won’t advance in your business if that is all you do. You must take action–messy, fractional, less-than-perfect, inspired, focused action. Even when you believe you are not ready. Especially when you don’t believe you ready. You will learn lots from doing that. It is only within the context of an on-the-ground, action relationship with your tribe that you learn how to really serve them. They will tell you what they hunger for and how you can best help them.
I've been told by clients that they felt as though I knew what was going on for them so well, it was as if I had been a fly on the wall in their homes watching them struggle to birth their business. I would not have been able to get to that level of deeply knowing my tribe if I had planted myself in front of my computer every day checking out what everyone else was doing.
Plus, perfection is overrated. Most people are turned off and even intimidated by people who seem perfect. Why would you put all that effort into being someone who your tribe cannot relate to?
Master the art of marketing and selling.
It is a very crowded marketplace. In the saturated blur of products, programs, and services available, clients will not just show up on your doorstep simply because you do fabulous work. Your survival in business depends on how you stand out authentically and draw the right people to you in a way that is full of heart, caring, and integrity. Of course, marketing can be manipulation and selling can be sleazy; however, you cannot afford to indulge yourself by succumbing to that belief. You won't be able to delegate these essential marketing and enrolling tasks to anyone else, until you have a good handle on them yourself. Learn the best, most heartfelt, and most natural-for-you ways to market your business. Open your heart to how selling can be about inviting someone to say yes to themselves by way of working with you, assuming it is a good fit. Selling can be an act of sacred service.
I could continue for quite a bit longer, but I think that I have given you enough to chew on for now. As my grandmother would say, "being an entreprener takes more than a notion".
What bit of sage advice can you offer to emerging entrepreneurs?