On Jan 2nd I celebrated two years in business. I will never forget that cold day in December when I told my boss I was leaving. I felt intense happiness, excitement and a deep feeling of inner peace. I knew it was time and the right decision for me. I’d had the entrepreneurial itch for at least five years and I couldn’t ignore it anymore. The elation lasted for a couple of weeks and then reality set-in – holy shit I’m starting my own company!
I’m lucky to have a strong community of entrepreneurs so I immediately started reaching out to them and asking for advice. Then I moved forward one step at a time. I started to create my vision of what my company would look like, who I was here to serve and where I wanted to focus my efforts. I also did the not so fun administrative tasks that are an important part of running a business. Has it been easy? Hell no. Would I make the same decision again? Yes in a heartbeat. One of the aspects that got me so excited about becoming an entrepreneur was that I get to create my own reality. I decide the vision, I choose the clients I will support, I get to do work that is aligned with my mission and purpose. This fires me up every day.
As I started to reflect on everything that has happened in the last two years, I realized how much I have grown. I thought about the wins, the challenges and some of the surprises along the way. It’s funny, when you’re in the trenches you don’t always notice how much you are developing and evolving as a human being.
I contemplated some of the biggest lessons I have learned along my entrepreneurial journey and I wanted to share them with you. The interesting part is that most of these insights are not just applicable for entrepreneurs but for all of us. I hope some of these lessons will resonate and serve you in your business or life.
Look for opportunities to come from a place of service every day
Your day feels completely different when you consistently come from this perspective. It’s amazing how relationships grow and deepen when you’re always looking for ways to support others. We are wired to give so when we show up in this way every day we feel energized. The added bonus is that as you help others they want to help you as well but that’s not the goal. The key is to come from a place of service with no attachment to outcome.
Don’t try to be all things to all people
It took me a bit of time to learn this lesson. I love what I do as a coach and feel like everyone can benefit from coaching but I realized that a huge percentage of people are not ready. Those are not my people. I want to work with men and women who are committed, hungry for growth, willing to be uncomfortable and do the inside work. Get clear on the type of people you want to work with, the ones who energize you and allow you to use your natural gifts and talents.
Surround yourself with a positive community
Being a biz owner can be lonely at times. It’s important to spend time with people who are supportive, encouraging, happy to listen and willing to challenge you. I’m a member of two monthly business masterminds and one speaking mastermind. I joined the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers and I have met amazing people with shared missions in the WorkHuman community & HumansFirst Club. I attend several live personal development events every year such as the Summit of Greatness and The Spotlight Mastertreat. I also make sure to meet regularly with other awesome entrepreneurs who are all about lifting each other up and coming from a place of abundance.
There will always be ebbs and flows
I knew this was going to be something I would have to get comfortable with quickly. For the last 15 years I was used to getting a paycheck every 2 weeks but now cash flow was going to look a lot different. I found what really helped me in this area was paying attention to my narrative. If I started to feel stressed when it was a quieter week or month it was because of my self-talk. I would notice very unhelpful, exaggerated thoughts like “what if it’s always like this”, “maybe I shouldn’t be doing this” or “what if I can’t pay my bills”. Once I became more aware of these thoughts it became easier to shift them and change the story. I would hear the thought and actually start to laugh and say out loud, well…that’s not helpful and then let it go. Mindset is everything.
Listen to your intuition
This is a BIG one. There is so much noise out there and thousands of experts telling you what you NEED to have. You do NOT need to have all of these things. It’s important for you to get used to tapping into your intuition and finding out what the answers are for you. There is no right or wrong answer but only the right one for you. When I’m going to make an investment or make a big decision I sit with it and pay attention to how it feels in my body. My intuition has gotten really strong and when it’s a YES my whole body gets goose bumps. Sometimes it’s not as loud and I need to give it a couple of days and see what comes up for me. Do you rely too much on what others tell you or listen to your own inner wisdom?
Celebrate all of the wins, no matter how small
This one can get overlooked easily. We can be so quick to move on to the next goal that we miss out on truly experiencing the wins. Entrepreneurs are all about making things happen so for most of us our default is doing. It’s imperative for us to slow down and stay in the being. It’s a beautiful thing when we celebrate ourselves and all of the milestones no matter how small. Celebrations don’t need to be about champagne, dinners out or a new outfit. It can simply be about sitting down for ten minutes and feeling the gratitude for what you’ve just accomplished and experiencing the joy.
Create white space in your calendar for creativity
I block off white space every week to do more creative tasks and brainstorming. We need to have space away from our computers to access ideas. This was a big adjustment for me. In the corporate world there tends to be a belief that productivity comes from a bum on a seat. Not true. A lot of my best ideas have come to me when I’m going for a walk, sitting by the water or doing downward dog in a yoga class. This can be unique for all of us, so give yourself permission to experiment. Maybe you’ll find there is a certain place in your house that is more conducive to creative tasks or going to a coffee shop.
Plan out your week so that you’re working on the top priorities
Every Sunday I map out what I’m working on for the week ahead. I also do a quick review every morning before I start my workday. If we’re not focused on our key priorities every day, it’s so easy to get distracted with busy work that isn’t driving our business forward. I learned quickly that I needed to set healthy boundaries with social media or it would easily become a time sucker. Don’t get me wrong, I love social media but I’m very intentional when I’m using it. I don’t spend hours looking through my news feed mindlessly. Whenever I go on a platform I think about my goal for being there and I set a time limit. Are you focused on the right priorities?
Invest in yourself and the business
It’s hard when you’re getting started because you don’t have as much money coming in and it may feel uncomfortable to make investments. However, I’m of the philosophy that you need to spend money to make money. When you’re building your skills and doing important self-development work it will impact the way you’re showing up as an entrepreneur. There will also be some investments in the business that are important for your visibility and will help your clients find you. I have worked with marketing and branding professionals, a videographer and a business coach. At the beginning of 2018 I attended a Business Intensive with Sarah McVanel to get clear on my top business priorities and the actions I needed to take. This is where it’s important for you to take a step back and create a business plan. You can determine which investments are most important for your business based on your goals and will have the best ROI.
It’s an evolution – enjoy the journey
I think as entrepreneurs we sometimes feel like we need to have it all figured out. But that would be incredibly boring. Part of the enjoyment that comes with the entrepreneurial journey is watching it all unfold. We don’t have all of the answers yet, we don’t know where we’ll be 5 years from now or even 2 years from now. That’s the beauty, it’s an adventure! When you make a decision, you are choosing what is right for you right now in this moment. It doesn’t mean that you have to commit to it forever. Paths will change, new opportunities will show up, ideas that haven’t even been brought to your consciousness yet will appear. You are in the driver’s seat and there will always be new roads.
I can’t believe how much my business has evolved over the last 2 years and I’m excited to see what’s in store. What have been some of the big lessons you have learned on your entrepreneurial journey? I’d love to hear from you!