All I could hear were my mother’s words in my ear, louder an louder, demanding to be heard. “I told you to stop doubting yourself and get it together NOW! I didn’t raise you to be a quitter so get up off your tail and get movin’ girl!”
I was ashamed of myself and actually, I kinda hated myself at that moment, but I would never say that out loud. I firmly believe that words spoken have unbelievable power, so I sat in silence, tears flowing down my face and onto my favorite shirt. I had never failed in my life. This couldn’t BE my life. Where had I gone wrong? Why did I invest money I didn’t have? Why did I believe in a dream and not the reality of my mortgage and gas bill?
I spent my life overachieving, so I never dreamed I would fail…in anything. Want to talk about mindset? I believed I was a powerhouse, and I lived to my full potential without a second thought to what others thought about me or what was going on around me. Focused and driven were my adjectives, and I had overcome so much without lending it any power. Was I delusional or just stupid?
The truth is I excelled in everything without much energy, it just seemed to come naturally, so I took for granted that life was easy. When I left my corporate career, there was no doubt in my mind that I would create something successful, or myself become successful, and nothing was further from the truth.
Hadn’t I overcome poverty? Hadn’t I overcome being a single mother? Hadn’t I overcome everything that life had sent my way? Hadn’t I become a strong, resilient warrior that could crush business, like my hopes and dreams, and bulldoze my way through entrepreneurship? Why couldn’t I make this business thing work?
The truth is, failure to plan is a plan to fail. Truer words have never been spoken, actually, and I didn’t have a plan. I made the mistake of hiring a coach to become a coach when that wasn’t the right decision for me, I am a builder, a doer, a creator.
Where did I go wrong and how did I lose my way, you ask? Fear and lack. When I left the corporate world, I always thought there was time. Time to get another job. Time to get myself together, but before I knew it, five years had gone by and I hadn’t had the first thought of being a productive adult. Why would I want to work when I’ve already paid my dues? Why would I want to consider taking time away from Netflix and junk food and actually invest in myself? I didn’t have a plan, so I borrowed someone else’s and spent a year wasting time and money and not getting anywhere closer to where I thought I wanted to be. That’s a long time and a lot of money to throw out the window, so I decided it was time to change my mind and change my life.
This is how I lost my way and found my path again, and also what I learned in the process.
We’ve all heard that Rome wasn’t built in a day, but with the shiny promises of online riches and caviar dreams, we forget that it takes a plan and work for the plan to work. I followed what I was told, without a plan of my own, without a blueprint to the house I was building and lost my way, like so many others, and this is why I’m here. How can you find your way in business again after you’ve gotten lost? This is what I wish I would have known before I began my journey, and these are lessons that I have either learned myself or through someone else’s pain.
#1. Done is better than perfect. Did it take me a month to pick out my branding colors? Yes, it did. Why did I ever waste that much time? Did you make me more successful and lead them to me like magic? Not even close. Branding is important, but branding is not just what colors you put on your website. Move on.
#2. Nail your message. Are you helping pig farmers so that they can produce more bacon? Spell it out. I couldn’t put a sentence together to get close to what I wanted to do, so it’s no wonder people didn’t know who or what I was. Don’t make the same mistake.
#3. Your targeting begins with your copy. Speak their language or get lost in the noise. This one seems almost like common sense, but trust me when I tell you, it’s real easy to find someone else’s language and discover that it just doesn’t work for you in the long run. Use your own voice, always. My problem is that I couldn’t shut mine up and it came from the IT world, so I sounded like I was speaking binary. No one understood me.
#4. Don’t worry about the success of others. Use it as inspiration, because we will all get there together. I used to watch the success of others and feel like a failure. Why do they like her and not me? Man, I couldn’t have been more wrong in that space. They deserve their success, just like you do yours. Concentrate on your own house and build it with love and gratitude.
#5. Support other women in business. Period. Help to build up and not to tear down. It’s catty, unprofessional, and we’re all done with it. I’ve never been one to try to dim someone’s light, so this is coming from what I’ve witnessed, and quite frankly, it’s shameful. Don’t be a mean girl in business. There are plenty of Regina George’s out there already, so be mindful and choose love.
#6. Create a plan! Your house needs a blueprint, so if you don’t want clients walking straight out the back door, plan their route. If you want them to take those steps towards your answer to their prayers, build a staircase.
#7. Stay in your zone of genius. You cannot do it all, so if you need a professional, hire one. We all need experts and just can’t learn how to do it all ourselves. One of the biggest disconnects I see with female entrepreneurs is that they take every class to learn all the skills, but they just can’t seem to fit the pieces together. Recognize where you lack the knowledge because if you want it done right, hire someone and call it a day. Save yourself the tears of defeat because we can’t all be copy writing super women or female Don Drapers. Know, love and embrace your limitations.
#8. Make a deep connection. It’s not all about the Benjamins, it’s about connecting with our tribe and serving. Be a light in the darkness. Show them that success is possible in a genuine, loving way. Authenticity starts here, in this moment of connection and it’s about sharing your gifts with others, isn’t it?
#9. Always show up, on time, every time. I realize life can get in the way, it happens. I’ve missed meetings due to vomiting children and natural disasters, but I will never make it a habit. I’m there when I say I will be and my clients know and depend on that. Don’t disappear and leave them to their own fear and darkness, be there for them when they need you. Now, we all know that sometimes there are those who need too much, but remember that it’s also acceptable to say no when someone crosses or disrespects our boundaries. Set the boundaries with love and be dependable.
#10. Be someone who leads, not someone who follows. Don’t copy someone’s work. Just don’t do it. Create your own empire, one that you can be proud of and don’t be tempted to take a short cut here, because we can all see you. Nothing is private online so please remember your own spirit and don’t crush someone else’s. There is nothing worse than someone stealing your work and passing it off as their own, so please be kind.
These ten things may seem so small and insignificant, but I’ve learned their importance over the last two years and believe that they are the stepping stones we are all looking for when we get lost in business. We started because we wanted to serve, to inspire and to lead, so treat your business as such and build a foundation on gratitude, honesty and integrity. If you do, I promise you won’t lose your way again. If you do, you can always find your way back home, so never give up. If you’ve made mistakes, know that I’m right there beside you and we aren’t the only ones. You can find your way back to the path you’re supposed to be on, just start with your heart and start clicking those heels, Dorothy. There’s no place like home.