What I Learned in Just a Few Short Months about Launching a Business and Embracing Entrepreneurship
3 Key Lessons and 3 Key Highlights from 2018
I get reflective this time of year. Don’t we all? I like to review the year, study the lessons, resolve the wish-I-woulda’s, thank the difference-makers, savor the highlights. Then, I make personal and professional goals, and importantly, do what I can do to set it all in motion before the new year creeps up on us, to build a little momentum in December.
But this year, I was stuck when it came to summarizing LUXI. In some ways, it was a really big deal, launching a business, founding a company. In some ways, it was simply a byproduct of a mindset shift. It almost felt inevitable.
It’s hard to quantify the emotion and energy of what it takes to create something out of nothing, and even harder to articulate the growth that comes from embracing the learning curve of becoming a coach and becoming an entrepreneur. It made me think about giving birth.
Surviving your first year as an entrepreneur is akin to surviving your first year as a new parent.
Pregnant, you have nine months to prepare, so you do things. Lots of things. But they aren’t all the things you need to do because even if you have a healthy body, beautiful nursery, maternity leave, and relevant instruction, you still don’t know until you know.
You don’t know how it will feel to give birth, to be so changed and simultaneously startled to realize that you love someone more than yourself. You don’t know how it will feel to be sleep deprived and delirious and deliriously happy and hormonal, to fall in love with your baby/ies while sensing a dramatic change in your marriage that you can’t really explain either. You don’t know if you’ll rise to the occasion or fail or both.
You just don’t know until you know, and you don’t know what you don’t know. And even though you are learning and adapting and evolving at light speed, in any other setting, it would be enough. But as a parent, you’re barely catching your breath and fear you will never fully exhale again. And still, it’s thrilling and satiating and perfect.
Entrepreneurship is like that. You have a period of time to prepare, so you do things. Lots of things. But they aren’t all the things you need to do because even if you have savings and/or funding, a business plan, a network, and expertise to call on, you still don’t know until you know.
You don’t know how it will feel to be your brand, to put yourself out to the world in a deeply personal way, to have someone say “no thanks, not for me” without letting it crush you. You don’t know how it will feel to be overwhelmed and stressed and amped up and ambitious, intoxicated by the freedom while sensing a dramatic shift in what you believe about work. You don’t know if you’ll rise to the occasion or fail or both.
You just don’t know until you know, and you don’t know what you don’t know. And even though you are learning and adapting and evolving at light speed, in any other setting (save parenthood), it would be enough. But as an entrepreneur, you’re barely making a dent in your dreams and fear you’ll never get paid. And still, it’s thrilling and satiating and perfect. It’s not as good as becoming a parent, but it’s pretty freaking awesome.
Oh, and did I mention that the startup road isn’t even paved? It’s forged…by the entrepreneur…by you. And it’s hairy and scary… and awesome too. I’m writing about my journey on Medium, but not because I have soooo much knowledge to pass on, but rather to find camaraderie with others who are in it too, who are brave enough to live life differently, and to add a female’s voice and mother’s perspective to the conversation. Let’s do this together, shall we?
In that spirit, I thought I’d put a bow on 2018 because today was a really good day in coach-entrepreneur-land, and now, I’m in the mood for some wrap-up (and wrapping presents and spiked eggnog — yeah! Love the holidays!). With that…
3 Key Lessons From 2018
1. NARROW YOUR FOCUS
First, if I picked a theme that permeated the zeitgeist of entrepreneurship this year, it would be niching. Niche until you are uncompromising, by offering a very very specific service for a particular person, your ideal client/customer, and start there. The idea is to narrow your focus, specialize to get clarity and carve out your niche in the busy, distracted, crowded, short-attention-span world we live in, to dominate a subset, establish yourself, build credibility and grow from there. It’s an exercise in discipline that I haven’t nailed, but I am getting clearer and more specific every day and you know what? It’s working for all the reasons Seth Godin et al said it would.
2. TRUST YOURSELF
Second, if I picked a theme that permeated my personal journey this year, it would be to trust yourself. You know. I know. We all know what we like, what we don’t like, what we want, what we don’t want, our preferences — we know it when we see it. We know what’s possible, what’s not, how much we have to invest, what our deal-breakers are, why it matters to us, and still…we want a playbook. We want to deliberate. We want a sign. We want to follow a mentor or an outline, or somehow to get there faster, with less pain, with less risk.
And maybe that will happen for you, that you’ll piece just the right wisdom, advice and expert counsel together into a personalized playbook of sorts, but for most of us, our journey is our own, as unique as we are. You bring something wholly new and exceptional to the table and by that virtue alone you must do it your way.
Besides, by walking in someone else’s shoes, you’ll miss part of the magic of finding your own way. You’ll miss the confidence and resilience that comes from developing self-awareness, overcoming obstacles, discovering the innate hustle and tenacity to move forward. The victories won’t taste as sweet if it wasn’t your sweat that earned them.
Trust yourself to know what to do, when to do it, when to pivot, to handle your business and show up in the ways that you need to show up, and to let your intuition guide you as you build your authentic empire. Trust that the right people, advice, and resources will show up at the right time too to augment the work you are putting in.
3. REVEL IN THE FREEDOM AND OBSCURITY OF A NEW BUSINESS
You did it! You made a break from Corporate America and are standing on your own. Don’t re-create the experience, environment, and culture you left. Create your ideal. Create what you dreamed of creating. Create the opposite of what made you crazy before you left. Work when it suits you, work how it suits you, work in a way that doesn’t feel like work. Listen to your body, intuition, and clients and make it work for the collective good. Take full advantage of the flexibility and freedom.
Remember that what you have now was once among the things you only hoped for.
And don’t worry about how it’s all going to get done (it isn’t), if it’s perfect (wrong metric), or if it’s sustainable (you’ll get there). Stay nimble, focus on growth and cash flow, practice, refine, get better. Put yourself out there and get feedback, but also know that people are paying way WAY less attention than you think, and they have their own stuff. What you obsess over doesn’t make their radar. That’s not bad news; that’s freeing! You don’t have any pressure to create anything for anyone other than your tribe, so don’t get distracted. This is your thing created for who it’s meant for. Keep it simple.
3 Key Highlights From 2018
1. KNOW YOU’RE SUPPORTED
First, when someone I admire, follow, and consistently learn from, clapped for my post and then tweeted the link, I was flabbergasted and delighted. Still am. That’s been my top performing post this year and I know I owe a lot of it to him. Thank you!
I write to connect, to persuade, to champion, to win the hearts and minds of my clients. I write because I believe my services can start before you are a client. I’m of the ‘give to get’ mindset and I believe marketing and sales can be an extension of my services. What good content can I put out right now? Can my free content be more valuable than others’ paid content? Writing serves several purposes — sharing perspective, fulfilling me, positioning my brand to grow my tribe. I write for the same reason I post on Instagram — I can share what I love, and others can love it too. Or not. NBD.
2. KNOW YOU’RE ON TRACK
Second, the LUXI official launch party reaffirmed my purpose. The women who showed up to support me are the reason I created LUXI and it made me realize that I do have something special to share that can make a difference. I can help you grow, shift your perspective, teach you about yourself, find clarity in the world around you, and love your life a little bit more. It’s real, it can scale, and holy moly, I am doing it.
3. KNOW THE UNIVERSE IS ON BOARD TOO
Third, today was a nudge from the Universe that I’m on the right path. Before breakfast, I received an unexpected message from a prominent politician’s wife wondering if I would be interested in collaborating on a book and a blog. Yes. By lunchtime, a successful financial executive called to gauge my interest in co-creating a women’s retreat or workshop. Yes. By dinner, I received an email inviting me to be featured in a national publication that I have followed for years. Yes. “Best.Day.EV-ER!” as my kids say.
Will it turn into anything? Who knows? I’m not attached, but I am excited. I love to anticipate the future. These examples, my friends, are synchronicity, manifestation, and groundwork at its finest. Just 24 hours earlier, while prepping for a lunch meeting with my coach, I set my intentions and goals for 2019, listing collaboration as my theme. To me, that means I need to create content and look for opportunities to create engagement that extends beyond a partnership.
Collaboration comes in many forms, but for me, writing often provides the entry point. And in fact, one of my goals was to be published by the exact publication that reached out. Another goal was to connect with more high-profile clients, so check. Check! Check! I think I can actually hear Oprah whispering to me “dream bigger”.
2018 was a labor of love, pardon the pun, and I’m so all in for the long haul and loving every minute of it! Thank you for following along in 2018. Hope to hear from you in 2019. Happy Holidays. Peace. Love. Kindness.
And, if you are so inclined, set yourself up for massive success in the coming year too by gifting yourself a personal coach. I’d love to work with you.