I’ve been plugging away at my business for 3 years now and have built up a loyal following of clients who recommend me freely to their friends. I can happily report that I make more now from my business than I ever have from a J-O-B.
But starting this business wasn’t easy.
I’ve run other businesses before, so I’m familiar with what it takes. Those experiences taught me that I am well suited to entrepreneurship.
What made it difficult this time was the fact that I couldn’t settle on a business model/structure/idea that I could get excited about and stick with for more than a few months. Every one of my ideas had potential, but none of them really felt entirely right to me.
My boyfriend had been very patient and understanding as I moved through the process, but as the process has worn on (and on!), it had become much more difficult for him to remain so. And who could blame him.
Then, I made the decision to focus on web site design. I easily found a few clients and made them sites they were happy with. But I was resisting growing the business. I found that I just wasn’t excited about finding new clients. And I was avoiding the things on my to-do list that involved web design.
It took me awhile, but eventually I woke up to the idea that there was a message in there for me. I needed to get behind the resistance I felt about my new business idea.
Underneath my resistance about web design, I found MORE RESISTANCE. This resistance was around working with new businesses. Most of my clients to date had been people just getting started in their businesses. Some were great to work with, but many were a pain in the $ss. I loved them as people, but they couldn’t commit to anything and had a hard time moving forward (hey, wait a minute, doesn’t that sound a bit too familiar?).
I simply didn’t want more clients that were just like the ones I had. Any indication that this was the direction I should go sent me into resistance.
To get past my resistance, I asked myself a series of questions:
- What exactly am I resisting? (working with new businesses)
- If this thing that I am resisting is indeed the direction I should go — imagine my most trusted adviser giving me this advice — what is the worst thing that could happen? (I’d have more of the clients I don’t want).
- How accurate that I really being in my worst-case scenario? (many of my clients were actually not difficult and were also new businesses. There was, in fact, no guarantee that I wouldn’t just get more like them, instead of the ones I didn’t want).
- Could I try on what it would feel like to have this previously-feared idea be my reality? (Yes).
When my answers to these questions indicated to me that I was exaggerating the potential downfalls to this idea, it was easier to take the next step. I imagined what it would be like to focus my business only on helping new businesses get started. I saw that I have something special to bring to this group of people — that by working with me, even for a short time, would help them to make better business decisions throughout the life of their business. As I actively embraced this idea, I found myself actually getting excited about it!
My resistance had been replaced entirely with excitement.
Now, this I liked!
But this isn’t the end of the story. Because once the resistance fell away, I could see what was behind it:
My purpose here (in part) is to educate business owners about the conversation that is modern marketing. Marketing is no longer just something that a business sends OUT to its audience; modern marketing also takes into consideration what the audience is saying BACK.
In particular, it is to help the solopreneur — the business owner who is also the primary service provider — understand how the entire customer experience impacts the client’s impression of the service performed. It isn’t enough to simply be outstanding at the “work you are trained to do”; you also have to understand customer expectations and learn to exceed in delivering there as well, even when those expectations fall outside of your trained specialty.
The funniest thing about this experience is that none of this was actually news to me. Once I saw how all the pieces fit together, it was a big “Well, Duh!” moment for me. Over the course of the last year or so, I had actually created many of the separate elements that I needed for the foundation of my new business: I knew the title of my first book, what to use as an optin gift, what content I needed for my website — it was all already in my head and had been for some time.
The problem wasn’t that I didn’t KNOW what I should do. The problem was that my fear that I was signing myself up to do something that I didn’t want to do kept me from seeing the truth staring me in the face.