Being a business owner is a life-changing role. I know that’s a broad statement, don’t roll your eyes at me, just keep reading.
In the past decade, I’ve learned many things about myself – in business and in my personal life. When I started my own business in 2006, I knew I’d learn. I knew I’d gain skills and knowledge. What I didn’t know is how much I would learn about myself!
Starting your own business and becoming your own boss – these are processes filled with so many opportunities for personal growth. After what I’ve learned, I might argue that these could be some of the most important lessons in life. Growth opportunities for a business owner go way beyond the start-up phase of a new business.
After 11 years in business, I’ve come to realize that there is no end to the personal growth opportunities business ownership provides us. In this blog post, I’m sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned, in the hopes that both new and established business owners give themselves some space (and grace) to learn and to grow.
Lessons the business owner life taught me
- I LOVE creating customized systems and organization
In total transparency, I knew this before starting my own business. This has been confirmed, and my love of it has grown. If there is a way to “systematize” something, I’m going to do it. It saves me time, mental head space and means I’m more consistent. This means I provide a more consistent value for my clients and I can better help them create their business systems and organization. (I double LOVE doing this.)
- My clients’ success brings me more joy than my own success.
I didn’t recognize this on my own. Thanks to my hubby for pointing it out.
As I was telling him a story of how my client had hit her biggest income month so far, he commented “Your eyes light up more for your clients’ income than your own income.” I half-way believed him. But, as I paid more attention to my reactions I found it to be true situation after situation. Having a client reach a $100,000 year – AWESOME! Knowing that client started coaching thinking that $100,000 a year was “something no one ever made” and now they’ve made it - I can’t even put that feeling into words.
It wasn’t just that she made the income - It was that she broke through a limiting belief. Don’t get me wrong, the business success is awesome and amazing. But there’s something deeper in knowing that a client’s mindset and behaviors have changed. That shift allows a lifetime of changes to come. That’s what gives me “goosies” as Jennifer Lopez says.
- Too much “time off” makes me bored and lethargic.
Oh how I don’t want this to be true -- but it is. Like most new business owners I was sure I wanted to work as few hours a week and play as many hours a week as I could. And for the first month or two it was a blast. But I quickly found myself sleeping later, taking more naps, walking through store aisles like a zombie and often just sitting and staring into space. I was bored! I wanted to work more. I wanted more clients and more projects to keep me busy and utilize my brain power. I wish I could say it was just during start-up that this occurred -- it wasn’t. I was working like crazy, had the most active clients I had ever had and was working on growing my Mastermind Resource Folder for my Sparks Members. It was awesome!
But, my “mind” thought I needed a rest. Ok -- it was my ego telling me “you deserve a break, you’ve worked really hard.” UGH! Self-sabotage sucks! So I scheduled myself a week off from clients. I had great plans to get lots of the “behind the scenes” stuff done. Guess what? I didn’t get a dang thing done. I blew my time off (after all, I had plenty of it to spare). At the end of the week I was sleeping in late, taking naps and sneaking off to browse the aisles of Goodwill. No more time off for me. At least not a week at a time (unless I’m on a true vacation.)
- I am an idea creator, planner and analyzer -- I need an assistant for the “implement it” stage.
Can you relate to this? You have awesome ideas. You get all jazzed up over them. You plan out the details and then -- it sits there. It gets to the point when it’s time to actualize the plan, time to “do” the work and you just get stuck. (oh come one, I can’t be the only one. lol) Heck, if it wasn’t for the assistance of my copywriter, this great blog idea wouldn’t have made it here for you to read. It’s true! When I started working with my copywriter, the first thing I did was send her all these half-thought out, half-written blogs. It felt amazing to get those out of the “to-do pile” and on my website. It’s not just blogs. It’s organizational systems, client and program workflows and marketing ideas or strategies.
For too long, the part of me that thought I should improve my implementation skills was in the lead role. The self-criticism for not getting things done created a unending cycle of self-doubt and made me more unproductive. But, when the part of me that said “so, get someone to implement it for you” took over, I became more productive. I also had less self-doubt, leaving me much more emotional and mental brain space to be creative and plan out more amazing ideas.
I get it. Many gurus tell us to work on our weaknesses and make them into strengths. And I did. I tried. It didn’t work for me. It was much more productive for me to accept my weakness.
Embracing the fact that I’m an idea generator not an idea implementer changed my business. Now, I collaborate, connect and work with idea implementers -- like my copywriter, organization coach and assistant. Implementing things means more connection with potential clients, better connection with current clients and ultimately more business success. Sure, it costs something up front, but the return on my investment is immeasurable -- because without it, there would be no ROI.
- I’m more intuitive than I ever believed I was.
This one makes me giggle. You’d never see the words “intuitive” or “intuition” in my vocabulary before starting coaching. Yet, when I was in coaching school at S.W.I.H.A, I realized intuition might just be my top strength. I just never knew what it was or that it had a “name.” Yet, it shows up time and time again in my coaching sessions (and my life.) My clients often say things like “Your spidey sense is right on,” or “How did you know that?”
Now, it’s not some “woo-woo” coaching technique I use. In fact, I’m not even conscious of it. It’s just a part of who I am, who I’ve always been. I call it my “gut guesses.” Sometimes they are right on -- other times they're not. But, most times they provide some type of new perspective, a light-bulb moment or an insight into a truth. It’s just another tool in my coaching tool belt. It just happens to be a pretty powerful tool.
- I’m a lifestyle business owner not a madan.
This was life altering! I read an article about lifestyle entrepreneurs vs. madan entrepreneurs and that’s when my business vision became more authentically me. The article outlined the typical day in the life of both a lifestyle and madan entrepreneur.
The madan has morning network breakfasts, team meetings, strategy committee sessions and often ended their evening with a social mixer and reading their emails in bed. In contrast, the lifestyle entrepreneur often starts their day with a cup of coffee on the porch with their spouse, and taking their kids to school. They spend their afternoons working with clients and marketing their business. The lifestyle business owner ended their day spending time with their families, taking care of their homes and heading to bed early with their spouse.
I knew immediately that I was a lifestyle entrepreneur. I had no desire to manage a team, run meetings and strategize with a committee. Yet, that was the business model most marketed at the time I started my business. It was almost as if to be a financially successful business you had to be a madan. Let me tell you, I was trying. It wasn’t working. I found myself feeling the same stress and anxiousness I felt when I was working full-time (even though I was only working 20-30 hours a week.) It wasn’t for me and I knew it. I also knew I wanted to be financially successful too.
Thank goodness I found this article! It showed me that I’m not the only one who doesn’t want a team working for them and that it’s okay to want a slower paced life and to achieve similar financial success. Also, that it’s possible to achieve the financial success with the kind of lifestyle I want.
So here’s what I want you to take away from this blog post:
If you’re just starting out on your business journey, be patient with yourself. Recognize (the best you can) the opportunities to know yourself more deeply then you have before. Watch for untapped potential. Be evenly appreciative of your failures as you are of your successes as each of these provide you powerful personal awareness.
If you’ve been in business a while, take some time to reflect. Look back over your time as a business owner. What new skills have you developed? How are you the same or different than before starting your business? Then, take some time looking forward. What potential is still untapped? What skills do you want to improve or learn? How are you going to use your business journey not only to create financial success but also personal success?