i always find this time of year a bit crazy. even as i am pushing to finish out the year with a bang, i am also reflecting on the year gone by, and at the same time i am already making plans for next year. it is like my brain is pulled in a bunch of directions at once!
and i find that makes me vulnerable to insecurity, confusion, or overwhelm. so instead of just letting those things start to creep in – i am resolving that i’m going to “keep it real”. to just be me, stay true to myself, keep my eyes on my path.
and not worry about everyone's highlight reel, but embrace my own behind-the-scenes. click to tweet.
so i am starting by sharing this whole “keeping it real & baring it all” list – this my truth, what building a biz is like for me.
i define success in 3 ways: fulfilment - i am happy, i am doing work i love, i feel valued and challenged and excited and like i am making a difference; freedom - i don’t have to slog away at a *job*, i get to be here for my kids, i get to make my own hours, i get to say no to stuff if i don’t want to do it; and finances. yep money.
i won’t lie, i am in this to earn money. and i think when we don’t look at what financial success means (when we say “oh i am just doing this because i love it!”) we are doing ourselves a disservice. plus, if we don’t earn money we are not biz owners, we are volunteers. and that’s cool too – but let’s keep it real.
i have had some awesome months (this year i have had 3 $10,000 months – first time ever!) and i have also had some not awesome months. (in august i had a negative month – even though i did earn money, my expenses were more.) my income varies depending on what i am working on and also what other stuff is going on (in august i was hanging with my family in Canada!) would i like it to be more consistent? you bet. but what really matters to me is that each year i have done better than the previous year. i figure that is a pretty good measure towards that financial success.
there seems to be a *thing* around *6 figure* and *7 figure* businesses. first of all, i personally find those goals a bit ambiguous – 6 figures have a pretty huge range, and also is that gross or net? and do you have to hit that mark consistently for a few years to be *in the club*? the other thing that i think i need to get real about is that those businesses seem to have a different model to what i have. they may have premium pricing, they may have large teams on board, they may even have employees.
so for me, my financial goals aren’t really centred around “figure” marks and they must be in line with my business model and with the amount of hours i can work. my original goal was to earn a bit of money so that i could be a stay at home mom and i didn’t have to justify to anyone when i wanted to buy a new handbag. so my photography biz was very part time, and i met my goal very nicely. the next goal was to earn as much as i would working as a teacher full time, so that i could completely justify not going back to work. i am now meeting that goal. my new goal will be to earn as much as hubby does as a doc. ;)
i work long hours. probably 40 hours a week. some weeks i work less (i take time off in the summer in australia and again in the summer in canada.) some weeks i work more (if i am creating a new workshop or writing a new workbook.)
there seems to be another *thing* around *low hour work weeks* (just insert whatever number you hear flying about). i would certainly like to get to a point where most of the time (unless i am launching something new) i can reduce my work hours. but right now i am totally ok working long hours. i enjoy those hours.
i’m really baring it all now. i would rather work than do almost anything else… working on and in my biz makes me happy. when i take time off i start to get twitchy – i miss it and i actually get grumpy if life gets in the way of biz for tooo long. don’t get me wrong, i like to play and i like to relax, but i also really like to work.
so to be honest, the whole balance *thing* is just not one of my goals. damn that feels good to say. i am tired of feeling like i am not a *good* entrepreneur because i don’t have balance in my life. whatever. i am happily unbalanced. i like my life. and when i am not happy in my unbalance then i might look at adjusting that.
i feel guilty a lot of the time. when i am working i feel guilty that i am not being fun mom. when i am hanging with the kids i feel guilty that i am not staying on top of house/life stuff. when i am doing the house/life stuff i feel annoyed that i am not working, and then i feel guilty because that stuff is my *job*.
eff that. i am over it! i would rather work just to pay someone to do the housework, so now i do. a housecleaner has been my first outsourced thing. it’s life changing. the next thing i outsource will be some childcare so that i can book work stuff in without always scrambling to find babysitters. i am tired of feeling stressed and guilty about that.
i am not good at doing those things all by myself all the time and still being a happy person. i want to be a happy person. happy > guilt. done.
many of my friends and family don’t really get what i do. this has been a bit hard at times. it means that sometimes people belittle your work – treat it like a hobby or a thing on the side or like "all you do is sit around on facebook all day" (yes i have actually had people say this to me.) it used to bug me - it really is no different to when i used to get the “you’re just a teacher” comments back in the day - but now i figure that it actually has nothing to do with me or my worth. it’s more about them and whatever their notions around business and success and work are.
and now i have more people in my life than ever that do get it. i have a best friend who takes a keen interest in what i do and asks me about it attentively, i have another best friend who is building a little biz of her own and we have the best chats about biz, i have a mom who owns a biz and is my number one fan, i have a hubby who values the fact that i can do this from home and be here for our kids and also earn money for our family, i have a network of amazing friends online (some i consider absolute best friends even though we have never met) and i have a local network of like-minded women who fill my soul up every time we meet.
this has been an 8 year journey. from leaving my teaching job, moving to the other side of the world, dabbling in different things until i started a biz, rebranding and relaunching that biz because it sucked the first time around, starting this blog, experimenting with a bunch of different things on this blog, learning and learning and learning, shutting down the photography biz, finding my spark, turning this blog into a biz, incorporating teaching into my biz…
i guess i have come full circle in a way! but it has taken me a winding pathway to get here, and i believe that winding pathway still continues on. am i happy with where i am at right now? absolutely. but i was also happy 3 years ago. and 5 years ago. and i am also excited for the next step too. i don’t think the journey is ever really done, when you are open to it.
9. some days (weeks? months?) suck.
i have had some rough patches and some really down periods. mentally, emotionally, success wise, profit wise… this hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns. i see it as being a bit like a roller coaster, the down periods are usually followed by an up period.
if i have a crap day/couple days i will usually just take a break – hide in my bed with a smutty book (that’s my secret escape) and just not think about biz for a bit. i try not to post about the crap days on social media or this blog – i am learning about how important my thoughts are, and i feel like posting it online just keeps the negativity hovering around for a while. so instead i talk things out with my close biz friends, and i journal. i find that writing it all out helps a lot.
i have also gone through times that were more than those general crap ones… long periods where i have either lost my mojo, felt incredibly unsatisfied, or just felt like i was no good at any of this. when those time have come they have always resulted in a big mental, emotional, or physical shift. (once i ended up closing one biz and focusing on the other!) in order to get to that place where things shift and i am back in the game, i’ve needed to take a step back, and do some reconnecting with what it is i really want to be doing, and why i really care about it. i call it reigniting my spark.
10. some ideas suck
yep i have had some fails. products/services that didn’t sell (i have literally spent days crafting an entire package and sale page only to have not one single person buy. ouch.) but also blog posts that didn’t resonate with anyone, ideas that got totally shot down with a “no one will care about that”, and meet ups/conversations with people that ended very awkwardly.
it sucks when you fail at something. not gonna lie. (see comment above about hiding in bed with a trashy novel.) but it is actually ok to screw up or to get it wrong or fail. i try to take every single thing as a learning experience. when i learn better i can do better. so really they aren’t failures if some good comes out of it!
11. some people suck.
if you are putting yourself out there (which we must with our business…) there are going to be people who don’t care for what you do. sadly we seem to be in a time where people feel the need to say out loud when they dislike someone or something instead of just moving on (but that is a topic for another blog post).
dealing with sucky people hurts. and sometimes it is really frustrating. even unfair. but what i always say to myself is that issue is more about them than it is about me. “haters gonna hate.” realizing that helps me let go.
and what i try to do is focus on my most awesome people. my beloved customers, readers, fans, peers, and mentors. because some people really are awesome. and i find the more i concentrate on them, the more come into my life!
12. i suck.
at a lot of stuff. there are all sorts of things i don’t do well for my biz. i’m not on linked in or google+ or youtube even though i know it’s *good for biz*. i don’t do SEO (aside from the key words that happen to arise in my posts). i don’t keep track of analytics or know my stats (i could find them, i am just fine not really knowing them). i am often sporadic on social media. i’m wordy as hell (hello long blog post!) but i find biz writing hard (sales pages. ugh.) i also find pricing really freaking hard.
bookkeeping & accounting is really not my forte. that’s why i hired Sylvia. she gets me and makes my life awesomer. she is like a super hero. maybe i will outsource some of the other stuff too one day. or maybe i won’t . i don’t actually have to do it all. i can say no to stuff. and people. and strategies.
13. i’m also awesome.
there are some things i am really good at. i write from the heart in a way that resonates with people. i can teach things in a way that clicks. i genuinely wish to connect with people so i am good at building communities and forming relationships. i consistently write blog posts and newsletters that are actionable and inspiring. because of that i have a great email list and a loyal fan base. i am creative and visual. i am good at brainstorming and putting the pieces of a puzzle together and figuring out how to get unstuck.
knowing my strengths and honing in on the core values i have about biz has helped me step closer and closer to building my authentic brand and a biz that shines.
14. i’m weird.
it is actually ok to be you and, in that quest for YOUness, to be imperfect or to turn some people off or to be seen as weird. weird is good. it means you are you, and you are different. i have shared my reasons for not writing with capitals, and in the end it actually doesn’t matter. i do get the odd person telling me they don’t like me (see comments above about how haters gonna hate.) but most of the time i get people telling me they like it, that in being unabashedly me i am giving them permission to do the same. my weirdness inspires others, and i think that is pretty cool.
no caps, typos, swears, an obsession with supernatural, a transparent love of beer & wine… none of these things has stopped me from being successful. i have had articles published on blogs that are well respected, i have had well respected members of the business world tweet me or share my stuff, and i have had respectable people pay me for goods & services. it’s worked out ok, me being me.
15. i’m complex.
i am both introverted and extroverted – there is even a name for it – ambivert! i have both left brain & right brain qualities. i am a planner and a dreamer. i believe that strategy and universal laws both have a place in my business. i am both pragmatic and woo.
the thing that i have found over the past 2 years as i have been working on finding my spark and building an authentic brand is that the more i learn about myself the better my business gets.
last year i began to explore more deeply how my mindset affect my business and my success. i have spent time working out what my “go to” mindsets are and how i can switch the radio station and play a new tune. i have come up with mantras that help me do that, and have them posted right on my wall.
and what i am learning is that thoughts are more important than i ever realized. even calling them “mindsets” can make them feel set in stone, so i am going to adjust that too. i’m exploring the whole idea of how thoughts become things, and this will continue to be a part of my personal & business growth.
authentic isn’t actually just the *buzz word* it seems to be. it is a real quality: you say what you mean and mean what you say. authenticity is the core of my business. it makes doing business easier – when i tap into my genuine love for what i do and my genuine desire to serve people, telling them about my *thing* feels natural and fun. it also makes me happier – my brand, my strategies, and i are all in alignment so i enjoy all aspects of my biz.
i have been surprised a few times this year to meet people who aren’t really what they seemed, to find out that the “gloss” on the outside doesn’t match the reality, that numbers have been inflated, that services aren’t what they seem to be. it’s all a bit icky. (again, another topic for another post). what this means to me is that i need to be even more mindful of that authenticity. that is partly why i am writing this post today.
i am me. and i encourage you to be you. the awesome bits and the sucky bits and the success and the failures and the weirdness and the complexity. all of it.
this is my story, my truth. you might identify with some of this or you might not. there may be things you totally disagree with here. that's awesome. it means you have a clear idea of what your truth is!
try writing your own list, you can even borrow some of my headings if you like, or make up your own. either way, it’s a pretty powerful thing to lay it all out and just embrace all of this about yourself.
and join me in making this biz resolution. i resolve to be authentically me.