To be quite honest, it’s taken me nearly a full year to see that the two online businesses I started between 2015-2017 have actually been completely successful.
Here’s how I realized that success:
- My first business reached capacity in three months
… and my profits were equal to my old corporate salary.
- I soaked up knowledge about executive coaching and consulting like a sponge
… and it’s become the foundation for my business.
- I helped develop and train an incredibly warm, wonderful and tight-knit community of women entrepreneurs
… and that rising tide continues to lift my boat and the boats of others.
- When my audience asked for relevant, actionable resources that would make a difference, I provided effective tools that worked
… and the real success is that they felt I was approachable enough to ask and share their wins.
- Many in my community have become my friends
… being able to support one another through the trials and tribulations of life is a beautiful thing.
These are qualitative, not quantitative, measures of success.
So why was I unable recognize it? Why did it take so long?
My wake up call was this.
I recently took the Positive Intelligence Test, and the results were alarming. I scored rather low on the PQ Test, which showed me that a large percentage of the time, my mind is sabotaging me (aka self-sabotage), and not doing me any favours, both work wise and, just generally in life.
These results were not a surprise. I am generally very hard on myself. However, I’m really lucky that…
(a) I am a naturally self-reflective person,
(b) I am working with a woman’s executive leadership coach to help me address some of these self-sabotaging issues, and
(c) I know it to be true that this learned habit of self-sabotage is something that affects most people. I’m not alone and I’m not unique, and that in itself is reassuring.
The concept of Positive Intelligence is a rather interesting one. In his own words, the concept’s author, Shirzad Chamine, says that “Your mind is your best friend, but it is also your worst enemy.” I do highly recommend the book, of the same name, to anyone interested in learning more. I’ve found it to be rather eye-opening.
I bring up the concept of Positive Intelligence because within three years, I bailed out of two businesses that were (almost too) successful.
When I use the word bail (and by using this word, I do acknowledge an act of self-sabotage here!), what I actually mean is this:
- My first business was my virtual executive assistance and project management business. I left my clients within a 3 month period so that I could team up with another business owner to focus on growing our much-beloved brand, program, and network, Create Your Laptop Life™.
- The following year, I had my business partner buy out my share of Create Your Laptop Life™ because it grew crazy fast, and I lost touch with how I wanted to really service people – small and deep, rather than big and broad. Working in such a big, profitable business, also meant I lost the ability to slow down when life and health required it of me. These two things are just two of a few reasons for my departure. It was a sad one and not one that I had planned for. It was also one that was very much needed for me to thrive in both my work and in my personal life.
The decisions I made were the right ones. Both were timely and important, and I do not regret leaving my clients, or selling my part of a business I loved.
But but but….
My inner saboteur definitely has come in to play over the last few years, telling me things like:
- “You left your clients because you are not capable or smart enough to handle two sets of business priorities at once”
- “You don’t work hard enough, and can’t keep up with those around you.”
- “You are tired and burnt out because you are weak”
- “You make mistakes because you’re not smart enough”
- “Because you left your business and clients, you are weak and incapable”
The list goes on.
Needless to say, when you let the saboteur spend a lot of time saying things like this, you start to believe them to be true.
Reframing My Experiences in Business to be More Positive
The women’s executive leadership coach I’m working with (Andrea Janzen, Professional Coaching) has taught me how to reframe the judgments I place on myself for departing two businesses in 3 years.
I am now able to see how awesome both of these experiences were, and these days, when I speak about my experiences, it is with excitement rather than shame. Which is fantastic because both of these experiences were great! I learned an incredible amount.
And this turnaround is in huge part to my coach and our work together in reframing my experience that allows me to see things in a more positive light.
Now that I can see the positives clearly, I am able to take my lessons learned and apply them to my work now, quicker and faster than I would have been able to before.
And because of this, right now, I’m pretty in love with my consulting gig (aka Business #3, focusing on business strategy, systems, and automations).
- The consulting business I run now makes me enough money to live the life I want. I’m comfortable. Not overflowing, but comfortable. We are finishing a renovation and will be able to travel and work as early as next winter, which is exciting!
- I make less money than I did before BUT it’s because I choose to only work 2-3 days per week instead of 5-7. And my time not working allows me to take care of my family, mind, body, friends, and community.
- I have time to dedicate to my husband and friends, nurture relationships in my community, and because of this last point, I’ve been invited to participate in the community garden up the road. I’m thrilled because I’m a serious gardening nerd.
- I have an active lifestyle instead of a sedentary one. I move my body nearly daily, with intention, and I feel strong.
- When I have a week where my energy is high I can choose to work more, and vice versa when my energy is low.
- I am able to hire someone to help me with my marketing efforts because this is not my jam! It feels great to be able to hire someone I trust to take care of my business so that I can take care of my clients (and focus on doing what I do best!).
- I finally feel as though the work I’m doing is supporting the flexible lifestyle I’ve been working towards, and the other 2 businesses gave me the skills and experience to do just that.
After a very long introduction to the topic of my own experience in business (I don’t know how to write things that are ‘short and sweet’ apparently)…
Here are my top takeaways for building a successful business:
On dealing with self-sabotaging tendencies – No matter what kind of business you are building, and no matter what stage of growth you are in, you are likely going to run up against self-sabotaging thoughts that will hold you up, slow you down, and make you see things in a negative light. I highly recommend reading Positive Intelligence as a first step to working through the issue of self-sabotage that everyone carries with them. And don’t worry, you are not alone.
On being strategic, early and often – It’s important to get really strategic early on about what kind of business you are building and identify what it is about your business energizes you. Most importantly, is the business you’re building going to support the life and lifestyle you want? If yes, great! If not, it may be time to take a step back and identify what your priorities are. For me, flexibility won out over revenue, but everyone’s situation is different and as long as you are clear on your set of priorities, that’s all the matters.
On protecting your time and energy – Don’t get caught up in the buzz of the online business world. Protect your time and your energy. Even though there is so much great information out there, there is also a lot of bad information and folks positioning themselves as experts, and in a world of distraction, a million newsletter subscriptions, and imposter syndrome, it’s a slippery slope from ‘this newsletter is great and so helpful’ to ‘I am so distracted from everything and everything that I haven’t made a move forward in my business in weeks’.
On seeing the forest through the trees: If you are the kind of person who has a million and one ideas but can’t see how they all fit together, this is the time when you need to hire someone who can look at your business and hear your ideas objectively, and pull them all together into one coherent plan. Willy-nilly works for some people, but for the rest of us, it’s hard to move forward through the forest when we don’t have a map.
On having the right people in your corner – Hire early and hire often. You don’t need to be an expert in everything, and especially when you are in a growth phase, it’s critically important to find the right people to support you. The other component of this is to interview multiple candidates, get references, and get proof of results before diving in! There is nothing greater than knowing that someone has your business’ back. In addition to this, nurture relationships with other like-minded entrepreneurs, ideally folks who are 1-2 steps ahead of you. Having a group of business friends is a great way to share lessons learned and get support when times get tough (because they will!).
What does success look like for you? And who’s in your corner?
Share below. Or, if you need help finding the answers to these questions, let’s hop on a complimentary call for a quick chat!