Starting (and growing) my business has forced me to confront a LOT of things about myself, and about life in general.
Self-worth, self-care, TRUST (that’s a biggie), the leap of faith, rejection, overwhelm, what ‘success’ actually means to me … and more.
I may only be two years in, but I feel like I’ve laid some strong foundations in some of these areas – that have helped me in my LIFE in general, as well.
So, here are 7 lessons I’ve learnt from starting a business, that I feel also relate to life …
1. Being VISIBLE as your AUTHENTIC SELF is the key to growth and success.
When you want to grow an online business, you simply have to be visible (like, consistently). And real. There’s really no other way to do it. When I first started to put myself out there in the online world (and the physical world, in clinics and workshops), I was basically paralysed with fear. And the funny thing was, it had nothing to do with what any stranger thought of me. Anyone stumbling across me on the internet can take me or leave me – I don’t really care. It was more to do with my fears around what the people who already knew me would think. My family and friends. Acquaintances. Would they judge me??
One day, early on in my business, it dawned on me that I’d actually probably never been TRULY authentic with anyone in my life. I’d let them see 75% – but not the remaining 25%. It took every ounce of courage I had, to learn to just say what I felt I needed to say, and learn to accept the fact that I wasn’t necessarily going to resonate with everyone. And the best thing? Once I ‘came out of the woodworks’, so to speak, and became visible with my truth, I received tonnes of support from the people in my life.
Lesson > Let people see you for who you really are. In business AND life. It’s scary, but it creates TRUE fulfilment.
2. Rejection paves the way for what you really want (and need).
I have been rejected TONNES of times. In life and business. In my first year working with people in the ‘real world’ (post-uni + college), it felt like for 100% of the effort put in, I received 5% of that effort back, in ‘success’. What I didn’t realise at the time, was that each time I felt rejected, taken advantage of, like my boundaries were being WAY crossed, or any other ‘negative’ feeling, I was growing so much stronger, and finding out what I didn’t want. This is a big one, and SO important. This phase of my business was where I learnt SO many lessons, and looking back, I see that it was necessary groundwork, that I’ve now built on – vastly.
I remember the first time I enforced my cancellation policy – about 4 months into my first year of biz. It was SO scary, and I thought, ‘who am I to charge this woman for cancelling on me (via email) 5 minutes before our appointment (for an extremely flippant reason)’. BUT – I had that policy in place, she was aware of it, and I knew that if I DIDN’T enforce it, my self-worth would go through the floor. I had to honour my own time and money. The lady was super lovely about it, paid it straight away, and I have NEVER had to enforce that policy again. Hurdle, jumped.
Likewise, in life, people WILL reject you (and, it usually actually has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them). And often, the same kind of situation will revolve in circles through your life, until you cultivate enough self-worth to realise that you WON’T put up with being messed around with anymore. That’s all it is – boundaries. We dictate how we will allow people to treat us. Certain people will be attracted into our lives, in order to help us cultivate the boundaries we need to really thrive. It will feel painful and hard at the time. But if you can sit through the discomfort, be firm, and lean in to that space of temporary limbo – as you navigate the space of learning what YOU need to feel valued and respected – then the old will fall away, and you will start to attract the new.
This has played out countless times in my life. The type of clients I now attract, has changed dramatically, as my self-worth has evolved. Many people in my personal life have also fallen away, as I’ve developed stronger boundaries and learned my own worth – to leave a smaller but MUCH higher quality group of people who deeply respect me (and I them).
Lesson > Rejection forces you to love yourself, respect your time / energy / money, and say a firm NO to people who are using you or taking advantage of you. You’ll attract these situations if you need to strengthen any of these qualities. Sit with it. Be strong. Cultivate an unshakeable sense of self-worth.
3. NO ONE knows what is best for me … except me.
When I first started my business, I did what I thought I ‘should’ do. Worked in clinics. Made flyers. Made vouchers. Ran some workshops. Meanwhile … wondering WHY I felt miserable and unhappy. (There is NOTHING wrong with doing any of these things, it’s just that they didn’t resonate with me as a practitioner). 6 months in, I released my blog into the online world, and all of a sudden I was BUZZING. I felt fulfilled and content and HAPPY. I started seeing a couple of clients on Skype, and realised that this online business model … actually WAS something that lit me up. I have had FAR more success doing this – because it is authentic to me!!
Along the way, as I converted my business into an online model, I have had many people question ‘what I do’. Try to convince me to do it differently. Just because it’s a ‘kind of new’ way of doing things. Just like in life … where, when you do something that’s ‘against the grain’ of society’s ‘norm’, and everyone flips out. It’s easy to be swayed by people’s opinions of what you ‘should’ be doing. However, if you follow these and ignore YOUR very wise intuitive / internal guidance, it’s likely that you may end up off track, feeling a little (or a lot) lost.
There are VERY few people that I now talk to about my business and life. I usually just skim the surface when questions are asked, because I don’t need anyone trying to sway me. Or question me. I feel super strong in my knowing of what is right for ME – in any aspect of my life – and to be honest, I just can’t be bothered sharing this with anyone who isn’t going to respect me for my individuality and authentic choices.
Lesson > You DON’T need to justify how you live out any aspect of YOUR life. If you find certain people are constantly questioning you, just don’t talk to them about whatever it is. Just don’t. Not everyone needs to know everything, and there are probably only a select few that truly raise you up. Choose them.
4. Everything that happens, is helping you to cultivate the qualities that you NEED, in order to become the person that actually HAS the business / life you want.
I used to wish that within my business, everything could be ‘fine and dandy’, when it came to setting standards and boundaries, and other ‘tricky to navigate’ areas. I didn’t like the idea of confrontation or weird energy. I wanted to be ‘that nice girl’ that could please everyone, and help everyone, and fix everything.
BUT, I’ve been forced over and over, to go through situations that have made me realise ‘enough’s enough’. I’ve strengthened myself enough to be able to declare certain standards in my business, like having people pay me BEFORE service is rendered (since I work via Skype), adding in a cost for unlimited email access within my coaching programs (rather than doing it all for free), raising my prices to an amount where I actually felt that I was receiving what I was worth … and more. Consequently, I have attracted high-quality clients who are dedicated, loyal, and willing to do the work and be self-aware and self-responsible.
Likewise, in life, when you go through enough situations where you are forced to be firm, and set boundaries in a way that may make you FEEL super uncomfortable, you learn that you actually CANNOT please everyone (nor do you want to). Every time you encounter an uncomfortable situation where you need to be firm, or stand up for yourself, or let someone down for the greater good of yourself – stick with it. The discomfort will eventually force you to grow into the strong, resourceful and capable person that you want to be.
Lesson > Not everyone is going to like you, but the most important thing is that you like (no, love!) YOURSELF. Only from this place will you become strong enough, to stop letting yourself be taken advantage of. See the discomfort through, and it will eventually come full circle, carrying you to greater heights.
5. There IS a higher plan.
When you start a business, you’re effectively embarking on the most intense personal development journey you’ve ever been on – and there is a LOT to take in and remember along the way. And … you can’t get the piece of the puzzle that you desperately want, until all the other necessary pieces that support THAT piece, are in place! You just can’t. Everything happens in its perfect time.
To sustain a thriving business, there are things to LEARN. And understand. It can be painfully hard to accept this and roll with it. I have struggled against it time and time again, trying to force certain aspects of my journey, or make them different to how they naturally want to be. But ultimately, when I look back at these past couple of years I just feel so grateful – because in hindsight, I can see that the many hard times have been blessings in disguise, re-routing opportunities that have helped to me create a business that I love.
Also … you get given what you can handle. As you grow, you can handle more. So you get given more. First, the internal work must be done. The universe is never wrong. Your life is never wrong. It is all panning out exactly as it should – with EVERYTHING. You may think it’s time to have that ‘perfect’ partner, or job, or business, or experience, or opportunity – but perhaps there is work to be done FIRST, before you are capable of truly handling that. And thriving within it. Trust this. Lean in to it. Be open to the work, the growth. No GREAT thing is achieved without some dedication to the cause.
Lesson > As much as we all want ‘X’ to happen (like, yesterday!), ‘X’ will happen when you are ready for it. It’s hard to accept. Especially when you feel SO far away from what you want. But if you keep chipping away, keep leaning in, keep doing the inner work? You WILL get what you want. Be open to it being slightly different to what you imagined, but every bit as great.
6. Perfectionism will paralyse you.
Oh, perfectionism! A dear friend that most of us are closely acquainted with. I read an AMAZING quote the other day by Mastin Kipp:
Perfectionism is fear of failure disguised as a high standard.
Indeed, it is. In my first year of business, I stopped myself being authentic and real because it wasn’t all ‘perfect’ yet (the blog, the social media, the message, the ‘X’, ‘X’, and ‘X’). It still isn’t perfect, but gratefully, I’ve largely moved past my fear of it not being perfect. The perfection is in the imperfection. When I released my eBook to the world, I couldn’t look at it for weeks (literally, it made me sick to my stomach to look at it because I thought it must be SO terrible). A month on, I printed it off and read it myself, properly, and I realised, it’s PERFECT, just the way it is. Why? Because it was authentic. It was me. It was what I had to offer to the world, and I did it. I didn’t stop myself out of fear.
The thing is, we are ALL always going to question the things that we do, the choices we make. We all have fears about putting ourselves out there, in business, and in life. We all worry about being judged. BUT, there literally is no time for excessive perfectionism. Life is limited. Your time is limited. Are you going to waste it trying to be ‘perfect’?
Lesson > YOU already ARE perfect. Really, you are. Don’t waste your time, your SELF, trying to be someone you’re not, or holding yourself to ridiculous standards, or hiding yourself from the world. Be brave enough to shine bright, in all your INNATE perfection.
7. Quitting won’t be an option, if you really want it.
There are SO many times I’ve wanted to give up on my business. Really – SO many.
But the thing is … this idea (for my business) was given to me. I was inspired from within, to create it. It sets my soul on fire. It’s my life work. It’s my gift. HOW, could I ever give up on it? Giving up is NOT an option for me anymore. My ‘don’t give up muscle’ is so strong now. I’ve strengthened it by exercising it over and over again, just like any muscle. Truth: starting a business can feel excruciating at times, but you WILL get through it. You will cross a threshold where you will realise: this is working. I can do this. And from that point, it will get (slightly) easier. I promise.
The same goes for anything in life. If you’re willing to give up, it means that whatever it is, isn’t truly valuable to you. AND – to accept this, is a blessing. Not everything is worth pursuing. But the soul things are. The things that you KNOW – deep down – that you are here to do. Don’t give up on those. They are such a gift, and the more you bring them to the world, the more fulfilment you will experience.
Lesson > If you really want it, you won’t give up. You will persevere, no matter how long or hard the road is. And … what else better is there to do? The time is going to pass anyway. You may as well do what you LOVE.
I loved writing this post, as it made me reflect on what a ride the past few years have been! Going after what you want in life AIN’T easy, but it’s sooo worth it.
I LOVE working with people to help them to become more authentic, and chase after what they want in life. If this is YOU, and you know you’d love some support (with a little bit of loving challenge from me thrown in), find out how you can work with me.
Massive love always,
Naturopath / Women’s Coach