And what can you do about it?
Recently, I was talking with my student and friend Cassandra about her experience as a member of She Gets Business®, my online course and community. Cassandra is a rock-star makeup artist (think $20k weddings) and is now creating a new service line.
I asked Cassandra how she felt before joining She Gets Business®. She paused for a moment, and then said:
“I was in totally new territory with no plan and no strategy. I was doing everything backward and making decisions willy-nilly. I had to guess everything, and was second-guessing myself and my ability to actually pull this off.”
Have you ever felt this way? I’m betting you have.
Maybe you have a burning desire to be your own boss, do something you love, and build something you’re really proud of. You keep thinking up new ideas about what you could do or create, ping-ponging from one plan to the next.
Or maybe you’ve already started your business. You’ve got products, services, and paying customers. But you’re tired. You’re frustrated. And you’re not making nearly enough.
So what’s stopping you from getting the momentum you need to start this dream business or scale the one you’ve got?
I’m going to tell you something that you might not want to hear, but I’m gonna say it anyway because you need to hear it.
It might be fear.
Have a loving, compassionate, no-B.S- allowed check-in with yourself.
- Are you are choosing to let fear dictate your actions and freeze you into not doing anything at all?
- Are hanging onto a security blanket of self-limiting beliefs. (I’m too young / old / inexperienced / over-experienced / fill-in-the-blank)?
- Are you giving yourself the respect you deserve to invest in your learning and growth?
Look – in fairness, it might not be fear. You might have some serious issues you’re dealing with right now. Maybe you’re in the middle of a big move. Maybe you’ve got some other project that needs your focus now while a bunch of other stuff – you know, like your dreams – sit on the back burner. Maybe you’re dealing with chronic illness.
And if that’s the case, then forget this whole convo. Drop what you’re doing, and focus on what you need to do to get your body and mind back to a place of strength and focus. ( Last year, I had to shut down my entire business when my husband was diagnosed with cancer, so we could focus finding the right doctors, getting him into surgery, and letting him heal. Was that the right thing to do? Absolutely!)
But most of us don’t have stuff that happening all the time. Things happen, and we move through it, and then get on with our day-to-day stuff. The same stuff in the same 24 hours that everyone else has, doing things like parenting our kiddos, running errands, and paying the bills. You know, life.
So why do some people make things happen, and others…don’t?
Because some people let fear and resistance lead the charge.
It’s easy to look at seemingly glamorous, successful people and assume that they are rocking it because they are more talented, or simply luckier, than you are. But that, my friend, is poppycock. I don’t know one entrepreneur who hasn’t had to work hard, take risks, and learn a ton to move forward.
The simple truth is: being an entrepreneur requires grit, wit, and tenacity. We have to be brave and actually put action behind the dreamy idea. Sometimes we take big steps, and some days we take baby steps, but we’re still moving forward. We invest in ourselves – through learning new things, making new connections, and buying the time and talent to teachers and mentors.
And if we don’t do that, we don’t get any momentum. In fact, we’re stuck.
Here’s an example of what happens when you don’t take real action
I have a friend – I’ll call her Stella – who is funny, charming, and whip-smart. I love her dearly. She could do anything she set her mind to.
Stella has been telling me for years – and I mean years – that she is tired of worrying about money. She tells me about the ideas she has for starting her own business. She’s cried on my shoulder many times, telling me she is so tired of not getting what she so dearly wants.
And here’s what she’s done:
She’s done nothing to shift from what she dearly wants to what she’s actually doing.
- She hasn’t articulated any sort of real plan for her business idea
- She hasn’t taken any classes to help her fill skill or knowledge gaps as a business owner
- She hasn’t sought out any advisors, coaches or mentors to help her see a path from where she is now (and has been for years) to where she wants to go.
And if I nudge her a bit, she gets defensive, and tells me:
- She’s waiting for the universe to give her divine inspiration for her next steps
- She’s “not ready” to take a class – even the class I currently teach for low-income women that she could readily get a scholarship for AND get free money from federal funding to start her biz.
- She’s “too old” to learn current technology to manage a business and connect with customers
She’s choosing to stay small.
She may not call it that. But nevertheless, it’s the truth. And it kills me to watch her let her potential wither and her totally achievable dreams die.
Look, I might be sounding like I have a lack of empathy or compassion here. I don’t. I totally get how fear does a Jedi mind trick to keep us playing small, and how seductive it is to take the easier path of inaction.
I grew up in a single-parent household, with no real parent to speak of, under the constant shadow of looming poverty. I did a lot of personal work to understand my own fear and self-limiting beliefs. (Yay, therapy.) And to this day, even though I have a masters degree, my own home, a beautiful family, and a job I love, my biggest fear is that my little one and I will be alone, living in a car, eating cat food. It’s a real – but totally irrational – fear.
That’s where Big Magic comes in.
One of my favorite recent reads is Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic”.
“Big Magic” is all about having the courage to live a creative life. Gilbert defines creative living not as “pursuing a life that is professionally or exclusively devoted to the arts,” but rather “living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.”
That’s what I want.
But as we all know, living courageously – trying something new, creating something new, feeling afraid and moving forward anyway – can be hard. Fear sits on our shoulder, whispering “Stop now. Don’t try. You’ll get hurt. You’ll lose everything. You’ll make a fool of yourself.” Fear’s job is to protect us, but by protecting us it also limits our growth.
So how do we fight fear?
Gilbert recommends we don’t fight it. She says make space for it.
In “Big Magic”, she writes:
“I’ve noticed when people try to kill off their fear, they often end up inadvertently murdering their creativity in the process…
So I don’t try to kill off my fear. I don’t go to war against it. Instead, I make all that space for it. Heaps of space. Every single day. I’m making space for fear right this moment…In fact, I cordially invite fear to come along with me everywhere I go. I even have a welcoming speech prepared for fear, which I deliver right before embarking upon any new project or big adventure.
It goes something like this:
Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently, your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting – and, might I say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring.”
There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making decisions along the way. I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still – your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you’re not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”
Are YOU ready for some Big Magic?
Three things you can do TODAY to get instant momentum.
#1 – Flip the script
Can you hear a script playing in your head, telling you you’re too something, or not enough of something? Is fear feeding you excuses of why you should play small?
It might sound like:
- Who am I to try to start a business?
- I’ll never be able to do this.
- I’m too old. I’m too young. I’m too fat. I’m too thin. I’m too (x).
And so on.
These scripts are so deeply ingrained that sometimes we can’t even hear the words, but it’s still on constant replay and doing great damage.
Here’s what can help:
- First, write down the stuff that comes up in one column.
- Then, start a new column, and change the script.
For example, let’s say that you catch yourself saying,
“I’m too old to learn this technology. I’ll never get it.”
I want you to flip that to something that resonates for you along the lines of:
“I’m learning something new every day, and I can learn this, too.”
This is your new script. Your mantra. Your new truth.
Write down your new lines, and put them where you’ll see them. Your mirror, your purse, your notebook – wherever you will see it often.
Every time you hear the old script, replace it with the new.
#2 – Have a real action plan
Do you have a plan for your business? You need one. Really.
A business plan is a simple and proven framework that helps your ideas take root. It’s a snapshot of where you are right now, where you plan to go, and what you need to do to get there. Far from being busy work, your business plan is a clear, simple step-by-step plan where you map out the heart of your business and the path to making money.
Now, sometimes I read some bit of marketing from a “biz coach” who tells people they don’t need a business plan. Instead, they just need to know what they sell, who they sell it to, for what price, etc.
Guess what? That’s a freaking business plan. And even one-woman shops need them!
If you don’t have a plan at all, the first thing I want you to do is to get everything out of your head and into some sort of written document.
Bullet out stuff like:
- Who is your target customer
- What does s/he/they need or want
- What do you sell (or what will you sell)
- How does what you sell solve your target customer’s problem
Need help with this? I got ya. Keep reading.
#3 – Get Help
Entrepreneurs often start as a one-person shop. You’re the CEO, the CMO, the CFO, and the Board of Directors. You’re your own IT manager. You’re also the janitor.
The problem is, you may have limited or no expertise in all that other stuff you’ve gotta do for your biz. So how do you fill the gaps, or find ones you don’t know because you don’t have any frame of reference to recognize it?
You get help.
Help can be in many forms.
- You can seek out ad hoc advisors who are subject matter experts in what you need to learn, and ask them if they’d be willing to guide you over a cup of coffee.
- You can find people who teach this stuff and learn from reading their blogs and participating in other free training like webinars
- You can take a class, either in person or online, from someone who has been there, done that, and can drastically shorten your learning curve and save you serious time and frustration
Here’s a personal example:
I can teach business foundations with my eyes closed. (Not that I do. That would be weird.) And I teach this stuff to early-stage entrepreneurs every single day.
But when I started my online program,She Gets Business®, I needed to learn a ton about digital marketing so I could connect with my target customer and create a great virtual learning experience.
I had to figure out:
- What platform should I use for my website, and why?
- What platform should I use for my online classroom, and why?
- How do I make basic changes to my website or classroom so I don’t have to pay someone to do it?
- What is an email marketing platform, why do I need one, and which one should I choose?
- How do I grow an audience using social media?
- Which social media platforms should I use, and why?
- What tools can I use to drastically reduce the time it takes for me to manage my social media?
And so on, and so on, and so on.
I felt SO OVERWHELMED.
So here’s what I did:
- I attended several online webinars to gain a basic vocabulary
- I hired one-off contractors who were subject matter experts in what I needed to learn, and they taught me. This included setting up my website, my email marketing platform, my Facebook ads, and more. (Much more.)
- I continue to learn
And now, I’m really proud to say that not only have I mastered this stuff, I can teach it! (And I do!)
Need Help? Let’s Talk.
If you are struggling with the foundations for your business – that is, how to get your business off the ground, and how to put a solid action plan into place, that’s what I do.
I offer lots of free training through my online masterclasses. Be the first to hear about it by getting on my VIP list – and I’ll send you my very-much-loved free guide The Small Business Startup Checklist.
You can also join my new FREE Facebook group, theShe Gets Business® Community. It’s an inspiration and learning hub for women entrepreneurs, just like you, and serves as a one-stop-shop for Q+As related to my free training. We’d love to have you!
And finally, I also give a lot of business love and personalized hand-holding in my signature online course, She Gets Business®. Enrollment is limited, so if you’re ready to get some serious business mojo, get on the waiting list!
Here’s to living big, juicy, full-of-magic lives!