Have you ever started something big but you weren’t really all in, and then it all caught up with you?
This happened to me when I started a new business last July. I thought I was all in because I left the safety of my full-time, international trade job to start my own company. My timing was perfect, my first day working in my new company, President Trump threatened 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. Trump was threatening to throw a hand grenade in U.S.-Chinese relations. I had an opening. Suddenly, a lot of companies needed my expertise. I immediately sent out emails to the tiny mailing list and two weeks later I hosted a webinar.
Things progressed. I told myself I was doing everything I could. I guest wrote articles because I enjoy writing. I was quoted in larger publications. I even made YouTube videos. Just weeks before, I was advising 700 companies in one industry about tariffs. Now, I had business development calls with companies from multiple industries. These people didn’t know me. Before, companies called me for advice. Now, I had to pitch my expertise and convince them I knew the answers. It was a lot harder than I expected.
Things were moving along, but not at the speed I wanted. On December 1st, the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement was signed and a trade truce was reached between the U.S.-China. Suddenly, I was terrified my window of opportunity was closing and I admitted that maybe I was not doing everything I could to get my business off the ground.
The trade truce was a huge kick in the pants. It started a clock. I officially had three months left to grow my brand, my clients, and my business, before everything changed.
I got serious. And this time, I jumped in head first. I wrote and published an essay about why I thought it would be impossible to achieve real change in the U.S.-Chinese relationship in such a short period of time. This was the first time I published my opinions. Urgency overroad my fear of being wrong or ridiculed. I didn’t have time to be afraid. Either people were going to trust me and my business would grow, or they weren’t.
I got personal in a way I had avoided in the past. I stopped curating the news and started publicly sharing my personal insights. I included unique experiences that shaped my sometimes unorthodox perspective. I pitched new political and economic publications, allowing me to publish several times a week, instead of twice a month. I quickly amassed a following.
In retrospect, from August until December, I was stumbling around. On December 1st, I starting moving with laser focus – I prioritized sharing my voice. I quickly got bolder. I started writing provoking headlines and submitting articles to major publications including the Wall Street Journal. I stopped hiding behind my anonymity on Medium and moved the discussion to LinkedIn, a place where I was connected to experts that I knew and respected. I soon learned they respected me, too.
On February 24th, Trump extended the trade truce. That announcement made me look back at the last three months. I realized I needed that push to dive in. My dedication paid off. In the first three months, I was published in five publications. In the next two months, I was published in nine publications and I started a blog. I’ve been asked to join an expert panel and a personal point of pride, I’ve gotten several hundred people to read an article about Why Soybeans Matter.
Once I committed, I gained momentum. I let people see what I was capable of. I got in front of them and I gained traction. While, my business is in its infancy and requires a lot dedication, love, and care. Now that I’ve seen what I am capable of, I am free to enjoy the ride.