What does running your own business have to do with self-development?
If you’re a fairly new business owner or freelancer and you haven’t yet run smack bang into the bare bones of who you are; what lights you up, what makes your knees wobble or stops you dead in your tracks, get ready, it’s coming.
Stepping out into the world with a business idea, a service or product, then marketing and selling it to customers in order to make money and do it on repeat is one of the most challenging self-development paths you could take.
As Dr. Brene Brown would put it, you’re putting yourself squarely in the ‘ARENA’. This courage to be vulnerable, to stand your ground and believe in the value of your offering amidst the possibility of critique from those in the stands (real or imagined) is not for the faint hearted.
Even more so if your business offering is a service and You are the Brand. It’s still daunting to sell a product you’ve created but selling yourself can feel next level scary especially if self-confidence does not come easily.
I’m a small business owner myself and I coach and support other women through their fear blocks to gain confidence and clear direction. I’m a naturally shy, introverted person with a deep passion for learning about human nature, healing and bringing out the gifts and strengths in others but I have a horrible aversion to self- promotion.
How do I deal with this? I use all the tools in my kit. I’ve studied and collected some gems along my path and I walk my talk, testing them on myself first. I also work with other coaches whenever I need help in my business. I know the value of investing in guidance and support when you’re on a steep learning curve.
Interestingly, 80% of my clients are also small business owners, entrepreneurs or freelancers. These women are all smart, creative, sensitive and brave. While their personal challenges differ, they are all in business to make a positive difference to the lives of others, whether through a helping profession, eco conscious business or adding beauty and perspective through their art. Supporting business owners to be at their best is a true gift for me.
Facing your fears
What I’ve discovered from being in business myself and working with others is that running your own business will push buttons you didn’t even know were there. It will expose your greatest fears and force you to look at the stories you tell yourself around money, hard work, earning potential, visibility, self-worth and self-care.
Your challenge then, is to accept the gift of growth on offer through this path and dive in. Meet yourself exactly where you are and get honest about the things that are holding you back in business because they are no doubt also things that have held you back in life.
You’ve chosen a fast track to reveal and heal these aspects that will allow you to stand tall, be seen, be heard, be transparent about your values, about what you do and don’t stand for. You’ve chosen a path that will ultimately allow you freedom from old wounds and stories. One where you are limited only by your imagination and the boundaries you put in place to protect what is sacred in your world.
Congratulations! It can feel like the hard road but it’s so incredibly rewarding and I believe a more difficult road would be ignoring the call, putting off the idea, waiting for a perfect time or shelving it until you have more time, more money, or permission from another.
Suggestions to help you through:
Find a supportive group or colleague
Find some like-minds to bounce ideas off, ask questions of and offer mutual support on the road of business with. This can be an online group (Facebook is the most obvious place to find such a tribe) or an in person networking group if that sounds like your thing. It could be a mastermind, paid or free or a small friendly community group in your area. If a group sounds daunting, connect with just one person, someone you admire and trust to talk through the issues with. You may need to try a couple of options until you find one that feels like a fit.
Work with a coach
I can’t recommend this highly enough. Work with someone you are drawn to who understands what you are going through and has the ability to guide, support and challenge you all at once. A good coach will hold the mirror up with compassion. They’ll also hold you accountable to your goals, which helps you to take those little steps forward eventually resulting in big accomplishments. There are coaches who specialise in almost everything these days so choose someone who can help with what it is you are stuck on; online marketing, social media, scaling your business, public speaking, selling, copy writing, performing or someone like myself who helps with the mental/ emotional aspects of being in the arena as well as setting up a solid practice of self-care to avoid burnout.
Learn from others
Read and listen to others who are willing to share how it was for them in the beginning or at the stage you’re at now. Don’t rely on looking at other people’s highlight reels on Instagram or Facebook but pay attention to people who have the heart to speak about what it was like for them, honestly. Often they were knee deep in the muck of making mistakes, failing and learning and had no idea of the success that would come to them later. There are no overnight success stories, you eat an elephant one tiny bite at a time (I know, horrible but effective visual).
Believe in your vision
Believe that you have chosen this path for a reason and it will lead you to a deeper understanding of yourself. Be brave and look inwards, build awareness and cultivate compassion. You and your business will thrive as a result.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to better. It’s not”. Dr. Seuss.
Oh and number 5 would be read Dr. Seuss quotes – any of them and regularly!
Please get in touch if I can help in any way with the self-development part of being in business and as the wonderful Seth Godin says:
“You need to figure out if you care enough to dance with the fear because it will never go away”.
So I invite you to dance.