Working for yourself can be extremely rewarding, even if challenging. So why is starting a business so hard?
You might already know that I don’t just coach career changers, but also business owners who are growing in both financial abundance and wellbeing.
Today I want to share some thoughts on something that I noticed throughout the years, both as a business owner myself, and as a business coach.
You might wonder what’s the biggest obstacle in starting and growing a thriving business: my answer might surprise you.
In my observation, the biggest obstacle new business owners face in building a thriving business is the misleading business advice we are all bombarded with everyday. And one piece of it in particular.
Unfortunately a lot of information on building a business is created and shared with the sole purpose of getting you to buy something. While content marketing at its best genuinely helps consumers, a lot of content marketers forget the being-useful part and press the accelerator on the selling bit instead. This results in the overproduction and oversharing of content that is designed to make you feel more insecure, less capable, and in urgent need of something outside of yourself (their solution) in order to succeed. And of course, you need to buy it now.
Combine that with the uncertainty and vulnerability that naturally arise from doing something new - like starting a business - and voilà, we now have a recipe for disaster.
This resulting blend of misinformation, sense of urgency, and insecurity stands in the way of you creating and growing a business that is profitable and sustainable in the long run. And there is one part of it that is particularly toxic: the constant message that you have to focus on yourself first and foremost.
The remedy? Common sense. Your common sense.
Here’s an example. Most business advice geared towards service providers (e.g. coaches) starts with the exhortation of creating a business that works for you, the business owner. How much money do you want to make? What kind of lifestyle do you want to live? Etc.
Then you are invited to do some math. A very common example is to encourage you to have a few high paying clients who will pay you a 5-figure sum so you can quickly make 6 figures in your business.
Then these experts share some stories of how they only work a few hours a week, or have completely automated their business, and how you too can work part time while effortlessly earning passive income, or how you can take 2 months off work every year, and so on.
It’s all available to you if you buy their 5-figure program, or if you pay them to automate your business, etc.
Now, there is nothing wrong with designing a business that works for you - in fact it’s crucial for long term sustainability and happiness. And you can definitely work less and make more money, I routinely have clients achieving such goals.
The problem is that starting by over focusing on yourself - the business owner - is backwards. If you are beginning to build your business from scratch the first thing to focus on is what need you want to fulfill, or what problem you want to solve, or what desire you want to satisfy. In other words, you need to start with understanding and serving your clients.
The better you are at creating and delivering results, the more you will be able to design a business that works for you.
Nobody will pay you so you can have the life you want. Having a thriving business that supports the lifestyle you want is made possible by doing a great job serving your clients.
When you focus on being great at what you do, you can rely on your common sense to guide you in growing your business in a way that makes you happy and fulfilled.
When I went into business for myself the first time - as a photographer - I too fell into the trap of “me first” business advice. And it did not serve me well.
Fast forward years later when I started Repurpose Your Purpose, and I decided not to fall for the same noise.
Just as it had happened years before, the moment I went into business I was bombarded with business advice. In particular, the advice - offered as the absolute Truth - that as a service provider you should only start your practice by serving individual clients. And only later you can offer group programs. The explanation for this is all about you - the business owner - and how much easier and more profitable it is to start this way.
But when I started Repurpose Your Purpose I had a vision for how a group program could be beneficial to career changers, exactly because of the group component.
At the time I already had extensive experience teaching and coaching in a group setting. And I believed that such an approach could make a big difference.
My decision to start with a group was customer-centric: based on my knowledge, experience, and understanding at the time, a group program was my most effective way of helping people change careers. And that was my focus: how can I best help someone who wants to change careers but is not sure what they want to do next? I was committed to doing my best to serve.
And so I started with a group program.
I didn’t even worry about the financial viability of the program until I knew the program worked. If something doesn’t work it’s not financially viable!
Then, as my program and my coaching improved, I felt more effective and confident in my 1:1 coaching, my business grew, and I gradually raised my fees.
It was all very much based on what made sense moment by moment, in my life, my clients’ experiences, and my business. And it worked.
If you are starting a business, resist the pressure to spend most of your time focusing on yourself and start by serving your clients. Not only will this work better for your business, but it will also make it easier on your psyche: the more you get self-conscious and take things personally, the more insecure you get. Think of any time you played an instrument or performed in front of an audience: was it better when you were asking yourself how you were doing or when you were at One with your performance?
The same is true for business.
The best thing you can do for yourself when creating a business is to dial down the influencers’ noise and turn up your own common sense.
You will almost certainly bump against a whole lot of your own insecure and fearful thoughts, but so what? It happens to everyone who wants to grow. And the only way is through.
Trust your Wisdom to guide you.
As you learn to listen to it, your ability to create the life you want to live and your ability to enjoy such a life (the most important part!) will awaken in you, and you will have a business that thrives because it delivers. And the more results you deliver, the more you will be able to raise your fees, delegate as needed, scale if you want to, go on vacation, etc.
Start with your customers and keep it real.
Psst: This is also true about building a successful career as an employee - focus first on doing great work, and your power of negotiating a higher salary and benefits will exponentially increase