5 LESSONS FROM 5 YEARS OF BUSINESS (+ A VIDEO TO HELP YOU BE BRAVE)
Cue the virtual confetti! It’s kind of unbelievable, but last week it was 5 years since I left my corporate job!!
It hasn’t been a smooth, straight line from that point to where I am now — there have been bumps and turns along the way. There were a couple of years where I was designing and health & wellness coaching (then I realized I love helping people in the wellness industry, but I don’t want to be in it). There were a few years where I was also doing office management for my acupuncturist (which I’m so grateful for because we got so close!) And there have been moments of wondering whether I should throw my hands up and go back to corporate.
But I am so freaking grateful and proud of how my business has developed! I’ve had moments of great pride in myself for having the drive & commitment to grow my business. There have been so many amazing clients that I’ve supported. Clients who launched their businesses via their new brand & website. I love to think about the clients they’ve connect with, and the ripples that have been created. And there’ve been so many wonderful friendships and relationships sparked from networking meetings or working together.
Most of us go through so much inquiry and self development in creating our businesses. Sooo I’m sharing 5 things I’ve learned about myself in the 5 years I’ve been running my own biz, that I’m sure will spark some reflection in you, too:
I can do uncomfortable things
It can be scary to put myself out there, to share my thoughts and work with ‘strangers’, but I do it... and I'm challenging myself to do it even more going forward.
Whenever I feel really stuck, I remember Brené Brown's work on courage, and the Theodore Roosevelt quote she always references about being in the ring. If you don’t know what I’m talking about – pretty please watch this 3 minute clip from her – it will help you show up bravely!
Maybe it's my Virgo-Aries combo, but I am never at a loss for what needs to be/could be done. But for the scary or uncomfortable things, I get an extra boost of external accountability from my business coach. Encouragement & support from a close circle of people helps with this, a lot, too!
Rapunzel isn't a good look for me
And I don’t just mean that my hair doesn’t grow to my bum! I need to get out of the house & talk to people in person at least a few times a week! While I work very well without a “boss” (one of my BFF’s always says there’s no way she could do it!), I still need new scenery and conversation.
Sometimes this doubles as self care with a yoga class or friend date; other times it’s focused working time in a coffee shop with other people around me. Picking a specific project or two works best for me, like the first round of a client logo or setting up the bones of a new website or drafting a newsletter note (otherwise I’m prone to getting distracted by emails & social media!)
Listen to my gut & speak up
Whether it’s about clients, collaborations, coaches or the services I’m offering, when I don’t listen to my gut, I regret it. Maybe regret isn’t the best word – let’s say that there are some experiences I’ve learned from and don’t want to do again.
Sometimes the hard part about listening to your gut is what follows — taking the necessary action after you hear your inner voice. The nitty gritty, logistics of actually saying no, professionally & compassionately has come with trial & error, but I’m sure it will be a lifelong practice! And sometimes it’s not about saying no, but speaking up about things that matter. Part of being a personal brand, for me, is showing up as myself. And that means sometimes talking about the non-work things that are important to me, like social justice. Every element of this is individual — we each have our own causes that touch our hearts, and how we talk about them in our business (if at all) is different for each of us. For me, I feel more aligned & real when I do.
Clear expectations & holding boundaries are key
In my business, this goes for clients & collaborators, but it’s started blending into helping me with boundaries in my personal life too. (Actually, most of these lessons were initially learned in my business, but have started to bleed into my personal life, for the better!) I’ve found that communicating clearly up front means everyone knows the expectations. Often times people think of boundaries as bad things — as being to strict, rude or closed off, but that’s not it at all. Boundaries keep everyone involved there’s a safeness and groundedness that comes from the container the expectations create. I’d rather overcommunicate than under, so that there’s less confusion or misunderstanding.
Comparison-itis & imposter syndrome are virtually universal
That are two things we ALL feel at times, and up until recently, no one talked about it.
I’ve found that reframing helps when I fall into a comparison hole — instead of thinking how much better everyone is, instead it helps to think of them as inspiration, as a signal that they’re doing something I dig, or have reached a goal I have for myself. It can reinforce a goal. But tbh, there are some days that reframing doesn’t work; in that scenario, the best thing to do is just stop looking at the people that make me feel that way! It’s okay to unfollow people that repeatedly send you into comparisonitis!
And thinking about the fact that everyone feels like an imposter helps me get through it. Even people I greatly admire deal with it! I try to acknowledge that I’m feeling that way, and tell the thought to move aside, because I’m going to keep doing the work anyways. It helps to have had enough experience with it to realize that I won’t necessarily feel that way tomorrow, so it doesn’t make sense to give up because of how I’m feeling today. There are some days it really gets me down; then I take a break if my schedule allows, trusting that I might feel confident and bold later!