I am an accidental entrepreneur. When I left my corporate job, I had no intention of running a business. I wanted to share my skills and provide value to others. Working in my business has been easy for me. Working on my business has been a challenge.
Despite having a business degree and spending twenty years in a corporate job — mostly marketing and new product introduction — my interest in running my business was low. It felt like a chore that took me away from what I perceived as the most important aspect - creating and sharing knowledge and ideas to help others. The conversation in my head included phrases such as
Does this sound familiar to you? It was familiar to me. And tiring! Up until now.
I became curious about what was possible. And believing that I have more-in-me! I knew the “I can’t” conversation about business was an old limiting story. In fact, it was really a ridiculous conversation. I love learning. Since I enjoyed figuring out how to climb 3600m over 55km, getting a master’s degree at age 45 and using technology to create a blog, I knew I had experience to draw on to help me figure out how to enjoy running my business. When I decided to do a complete rebranding and relaunch of my business, I also decided it was time for an overhaul of my internal conversation too.
When our actions align with our values we feel fulfilled. Our energy and enthusiasm is elevated. Relaunching my business has felt like recreating myself as a business person, bringing me into better alignment with what matters. Because of the work I do, I have a list of values that I review from time to time.
Three top values on my list are accomplishment, life long learning and courage. Included in accomplishment is helping others accomplish. Another value is integrity that I defined as “external actions congruent with internal values”. Well no wonder that old “I can’t” conversation was so tiring. My actions regarding running my business were not congruent!
I always say our values are like guideposts, providing direction for our choices, actions and attitudes along the way. Once I reconnected with my values, my interest in my business changed. I can figure out and learn what I need to accomplish my objectives. Life is an experiment. Running a business is an experiment. Try stuff. Evaluate. Repeat or change. Enjoy the journey. Which leads to the next principle.
What enables me to run long distances and participate in endurance sports is that I love the process of training. I developed this love initially by finding the right training programs to learn how to train and having people to train with and share the experience. Every athlete is different and responds best to training approaches that meet their unique needs.
In the same way, I realize every business owner is different and will thrive when their infrastructure training meets their unique needs. What I needed for my business was to find the right online platform to accomplish my goals. I needed training to help me learn how to use it. I needed the right people to help me do this. Once I had my new infrastructure in place, I noticed I was enthusiastic to learn how to create products, and navigate the new platform. The technology was no longer intimidating because I had someone to do the initial set up and teach me how to use it. I had another person help me focus my brand messaging and create branding guidelines so I can be consistent in my messaging. I have the roadmap! I know where I’m going and how to get there!
The added benefit was that these big changes [coincidently!] happened during the height of the COVID19 pandemic in Canada where I live. I had fewer distractions and I gave myself full permission to take the time necessary to reflect and figure things out. While I had a completion date in my mind - just like a race finish line — I stayed steady and consistent as I moved forward. I was able to maintain my energy rather than burn myself out early on and drag myself to the finish line. My enthusiasm remains as my business and I continue to shift and change. My daily practices support this process.
Daily practices to shift your mood, move your body and expand your mind will develop core strength, inside and out. The more calm, grounded, centred and compassionate we are on the inside, the more creative, intuitive, focused, curious and courageous we can be in our actions. When circumstances become uncertain and we feel like we have less control, such as during the COVID19 pandemic, our daily practices help us adjust.
I noticed that while I was concerned about the state of the world and how my own life was being disrupted, my many years of yoga, meditation, journalling, running and healthy eating helped me be present to what was going on and focus on what I could control. I knew when a nap was the best choice and when getting on my mat was what was needed. I knew how to use my daily practices to support my goals of relaunching my business.
My best ideas come during sivasana (resting pose) at the end of my yoga practice, during mediation or while running. I make a habit of writing or learning something new or reflecting on an idea that’s still hazy just before these activities. Once I’m done the draft of this article, I’ll go for a run and let the rhythm of my breath nurture the flow of my thoughts as I reflect on what I’ve written.
Daily practices help moderate energy to a steady ebb and flow, minimizing the spikes and troughs that drain our energy. The people around us help with maintaining energy too.
I enjoyed the whole relaunch experience. New branding, new online platform, new positioning of what I do…lots of changes. What made this experience so rewarding was the community of people helping get the work done, providing feedback and being there to listen and encourage.
Without naming it as such, I started this relaunch about 4 years ago. It’s been an iterative process where I’d come up with an idea, put it into action, reflect, try something else and step by step made my way forward. What held me back and slowed the process was finding the right people to help me. I guess now is the time I was meant to make these changes because the people I was looking for (and some I didn’t know I needed) appeared over the last six months. All of a sudden everything fit together.
I have continued to strategically recruit my support team because I know first hand the value of having a network of people to turn to. Throughout my corporate career, athletic pursuits, personal endeavours and in growing my business, I’ve had mentors, coaches, friends and colleagues who have been instrumental in my learning and resulting accomplishments.
Strategically creating a support network takes time and attention and the rewards are multifaceted.
During my corporate marketing days, I was responsible for creating all types of marketing materials - videos, brochures, sales programs, product launches and so on. We had big budgets in the tech industry and we spent them! We also had a lot of pressure to get it ‘right’ and I worked extreme hours to meet crazy deadlines. Wanting to make sure everyone was pleased with the outcome - and me - I’d put pressure on our marketing agencies to make the changes and get everything just right. One year for Christmas one agency gave me a sweatshirt that said “it just doesn’t matter!” With good humour they made their message clear. Their years of experience was speaking. Many years later, I finally got the message!
All the super successful entrepreneurs that I’ve listened to and learned from repeat the same mantra. “Done is better than perfect.” Or another version is, “Do it messy. But do it.” Their words have sunk in. When my pesky perfection tendency surfaces, I say out loud, “done is better than perfect”. I couldn’t be more pleased with the end result of my relaunch! And I can change any of it later…if I choose.
My new love of running my business wasn’t the result of an ah-ha moment. It happened slowly over time. In fact I didn’t realize how my perspective had changed until I noticed a new pattern of sitting down at my computer after dinner to complete a few more bits and pieces and then going to bed feeling content and looking forward to what I could create the next day. The lessons listed above helped me create new neural pathways — and what I hope is my new normal — by drawing on my previous corporate and athletic accomplishments and staying present to the process. And of course, chanting my mantra, “I’ve got more-in-me!”
You have more in you too. What’s a challenge you’re currently facing and how can you use experiences from other parts of your life to figure out how to address the current situation?
If you're not sure where to start, access my free mini course and workbook Finding Possibility In Uncertainty. It will help you figure out the first step.