Years ago, while I was still studying, I remember reading a blog or article that stated, ‘starting a business will be the most intense personal development journey you will ever go on’.
And truth be told, it definitely has been. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon (or, ever!).
Starting and growing a business that is in alignment with what you feel is your purpose, your calling, your soul work in the world, usually means that it’s an extension of who you are. And, as such, its hard to not be super attached to how it works out, whether it will be well received, and if it’s deemed ‘successful’.
Your entire heart is going into it. For you, everything rides on this. This is your work. I get it.
My business is only (just) two years old, and I kid you not when I say I feel like I’ve been put through a tumble-dryer after all the things I’ve had to conquer, make peace with, transform, and bravely step into, in the past two years.
There are many statistics that state that ‘X’ percentage of small businesses fail within the first ‘X’ years. I don’t know what the exact statistics are, I’ve never looked them up – because I don’t care about statistics. My certainty that THIS WORK is my life purpose, will always mean far more to me than any opinion or number that someone could impose upon me.
There is always, always, always a way to make your dream a reality in the world, and for many people their dream is to start a business.
If you are going to take on statistics like the above-mentioned and make them your truth, then you’ll probably quit. And if you’re willing to quit? That’s simply showing you that what you’re creating isn’t as important to you as you once thought it was. That’s a blessing. Focus your efforts elsewhere instead.
People often ask me why I choose to structure my business the way I do (mostly online), how I figured out what to ‘specialise’ in, and how I learnt about blogging and all the other online ‘things’ that constitute an ‘online business’.
So I pulled together some of the lessons + truths + realisations that I’ve had over the past couple of years. I’m really just beginning – I’ve only scratched the surface thus far, when I think about what I want to create for my business in the grand scheme of my life. However, I’m sooo proud of the foundations I’ve laid, the walls I’ve broken down for myself, and most of all – all the amazing women I’ve been able to help along the way.
Also – I want to say, whatever it is you really, really, really want? Don’t quit. Don’t expect it to materialise overnight, either. If it’s in your soul – YOU HAVE GOT THIS. I promise. No matter how long it takes. The time is going to pass anyway. Spend it working towards what is true for YOU.
Lesson 1. Throw things at the wall and see what sticks.
When I first graduated, I had 2 tertiary qualifications plus a whole host of extracurricular short courses that I’d done. I knew I wanted to practice in a way that included not just naturopathy, but also life coaching – but I didn’t really know where to begin. I first worked in a health food store where I gained my first handful of clients, then I worked out of a few different clinics, I set up a clinic in my own home, I made flyers, business cards, and vouchers, I ran a workshop from Lulu Lemon (they are SO great to people in the public who have something to share), I ran workshops from a yoga studio with a close yoga teacher friend … all the while (very) slowly building up my blog and social media.
After 6 – 12 months of all these different things, it became clear that online marketing (via Facebook sponsored posts) was helping me the MOST in finding new clients – and, it was what I enjoyed the most. I started to put more and more effort into the online side of things, and I was really enjoying it, and the results were showing me what to keep going in. On the other hand, I found building up in a clinic very hard, because I had no way of really reaching my potential customers for that clinic space. The clients I was attracting online I was seeing mostly via Skype, so it didn’t really matter where I was. And then in-person clients could come and see me at my home clinic. I was also able to more freely incorporate the coaching side of things in this way. Moral of the story … I had to go through so many different scenarios to find what worked for me.
Lesson 2. Only do what feels authentic + true to you.
I thought that I had to ‘do it all’ to be successful – and I put particular pressure on myself to remain in a clinic scenario (where I rented a room and there were other wellness practitioners of different types), even though it really wasn’t resonating. I was also trying to put heaps of effort into all the social media streams, when it was really on Instagram and FaceBook that I really enjoyed using. I thought I had to blog every single day, and constantly be online. Until, I stopped enjoying it all. And burnt out. After that, I just allowed myself to do what felt right, and stopped trying to achieve a million things at once, just being content with doing the things that felt authentic and true to me.
Lesson 3. Don’t expect anything to happen overnight.
Celebrate every tiny success. So often, we are fixated on the ‘end goal’, and we miss all the amazing successes along the way. First clients. New websites. Lovely emails from people whose lives are better because of what you put out there. All these little things, make up your business. If you don’t celebrate them because you’re too caught up in trying to get fully booked – or whatever – you’ll just feel unhappy with life. Each day, something good happens. If you keep taking consistent daily actions, you WILL build momentum, and eventually, that end goal will undoubtedly be achieved.
Lesson 4. Be prepared for the DAILY ups and downs.
You really do have to train yourself to be resilient when you’re starting / growing a business. Every day, you will question yourself. You will be up and down and all over the place sometimes. Train yourself to remain even, amidst all the chaos. Ignore anyone who doesn’t believe in your dream – just avoid talking to them about it. Keep bringing yourself back to your purpose, your ‘why’. That is your anchor.
Lesson 5. When it comes to social media … just be you.
People appreciate real people. Just be you. Don’t post ‘what you think people want to see’. Be real, and you will attract the people who, on a soul level, deeply resonate with your work. It can be better to have less ‘followers’ who actually deeply appreciate your message, than more ‘followers’ who don’t really engage. Be yourself and when you feel inspired to share, do it. I don’t have a big following at all, but social media still works for me in terms of growing my business. I’m so grateful that social media is even a thing!
Lesson 6. Your ideal clients WILL come to you … from the most random places.
The people who are meant to work with you, will find you … when you are ready for them, and when they are ready for you. I deeply believe this. Of course, you still have to take big action to get yourself and your message out there. You need to put yourself in front of people. You need to invite them to work with you. And then … you need to let go, knowing that it WILL happen.
Lesson 7. Be in it for the long haul.
You can’t rush something you want to last forever. If you know your business / work is for LIFE, then don’t be in an excessive rush. Of course, don’t be complacent, but try not to force it and manipulate it. It will unfold as it should, all you need to do is keep showing up for your business and doing the work.
Lesson 8. It’s ok to work part-time as well.
It can be nice to work part-time as you build your business for many reasons. It gives you a connection and a stability that you might need if your business still feels very uncertain. It might give you the extra income to initially invest in your business, and not have to be stressed about covering basic life expenses. It can sometimes be a challenge to find a balance between the two, but ultimately – having a part-time job when you start off (or even later) can ensure that you don’t become resentful of your business if it doesn’t support you straight away. Do whatever you need to do to stay on top and feel calm about life.
Lesson 9. It’s a game … it’s meant to be fun.
Of course business is serious – in the sense that we want our businesses to support us. But what I’ve found is that when I get too caught up in the heaviness and seriousness of it, it isn’t fun anymore and I start to lose my inspiration. You’re out there offering a service, trying to help people. You need to keep your energy light, to attract what you desire. If business is feeling like no fun, what can you do to bring more celebration and lightness and heart to it? Ask life to help you. You attract what you put out there.
Lesson 10. When you look after yourself properly, business will grow.
Honestly, when I finally started to properly practice what I was preaching, to the fullest extent, I attracted all sorts of amazingly ideal clients. Because, when you look after YOU, you’re going to be at your greatest capacity to serve and hold space for others. Life knows this.
Lesson 11. Be consistent.
Show up in small ways, often. Especially if you’re building an online presence – consistency gets you in front of people. Even if you think no one is reading / watching / caring – they ARE. There are people out there that you are reaching – absolutely guaranteed. Showing up conistently is the best way to build connections with people – and this takes time. Nurture the relationship you have with the people who follow your work.
Lesson 12. Allow yourself to step back when it isn’t flowing.
Sometimes, the path just isn’t clear and the way forward will only come to you once you have stepped back and had a little breather. You can still do the day to day things within your business, but maybe give yourself a break from needing to plan out the next week, month, year, down to a tee. Allow space for flow. If you’re not sure how to move forward yet, stop analysing it. You’ll end up paralysing yourself out of indecision and confusion. Step back and ask your business what it wants from you. That may sound weird, but you WILL get answers.
Lesson 13. Use your intuition to figure out how much to charge.
The further along you go in business, the more deeply you will own the value of your work. The more you own your work, and deeply understand that you have SO much to offer your clients / tribe, the more comfortable you will feel to organically raise your prices. There’s no point charging a price that you don’t actually feel you are worth yet. Sit down and write a list of WHY your work is so valuable to your ideal client, WHAT they get out of your work, HOW this changes their lives (and the lives of those around them). Then also understand what they are missing out on if they don’t get to be exposed to your work. This alone will help you to realise why your work is valuable. You will know what price point feels comfortable to you if you just tune in to how it feels. And when it’s time to up your prices … you will know. Don’t be scared to charge more as your work becomes more refined.
Lesson 14. It’s all in the details.
I want my clients to feel spoilt, so I like to pay attention to small details. I like sending them gifts via snail mail, so I make this part of my packages. I want my clients to have an experience working with me, not just a session(s). Details are important and they set you aside. Be willing to go above and beyond, this will help you form amazing relationships with your clients. (And, there is a difference between CHOOSING to go above and beyond out of love, and then letting people cross your boundaries. The first feels great. The latter feels icky).
Lesson 15. Create space for what you want.
Is there space in your life for the growth of your business? Are you ready to HOLD, exactly what it is you want? If things are taking off slowly, it’s often because we need to shift, realign, revalue, and reorganise parts of our lives. We need to slowly step into being the person who has the business we want. This is a process. It needs to happen. Be gentle with yourself, and have patience for your life purpose. Set aside sacred time where you focus solely on your business, and it will flourish in its own sweet time. Don’t put pressure on it to grow – just tend to it in small ways, often, and – it will!
There are sooo many more things that I’ve learnt, and will continue to learn. My main intention with writing this post was to encourage anyone who is experiencing road bumps on the way to their dream to KEEP GOING.
Keep going, keep going, keep going. It will likely not be an easy ride, but if you stick it out, with grace and grit, it will probably wind up being everything you’ve ever hoped for, plus more!
And, just to finish, a couple of my favourite quotes that remind us all that when it comes to big, soul dreams, we must keep the faith, keep doing the work, and fully believe in ourselves and our mission.
‘It takes massive work, hard focus and ridiculous amounts of grit and practice to ‘get lucky’. The average performer loves classifying the exceptionalists as ‘lucky’, so they can blame their mediocrity on fate’. ~ Robin Sharma
‘Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance’. ~ James Baldwin
‘Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly’. ~ Franz Kafka
Sending you lots of love and light if you’re on this journey –
Naturopath / Women’s Coach