Even in a successful small business, sometimes things don’t go to plan.
The longer you’re in business, the more times you’ll deal with projects that don’t work out, offers that don’t sell, or strategies that take you down the wrong path.
In many ways, staying in business over the long haul is a constant exercise in maintaining your heading—and navigating back when you inevitably veer off course.
When we launched The What Works Network, I had a vision of small business owners who were frustrated with one-size-fits-all online courses flocking to our platform to work together on making their businesses better.
I could see hundreds and then thousands of entrepreneurs sharing their challenges, offering their solutions, and deep diving into complex issues. I imagined leading the charge for more honest, open-minded, and sophisticated exploration of how we do business.
That didn’t happen.
Despite years of experience and success, my new idea didn’t take off as planned.
It’s taken many experiments, mistakes, and a lot of frustration to finally feel like we’re gaining traction.
During this time, though, I learned so much about building an exceptional product. I learned about building a community—and not merely an audience. I learned about leadership and earning others buy-in.
I know that almost two years of heartache and frustration have taught me what I need to know to create something even better than what I dreamed of in the beginning. And, I know I wouldn’t be here now if I hadn’t been able to cope with those trials.
One of the benefits of being in business for over 10 years is that you know that you’re not alone in the dips. You know that others have suffered setbacks and created their own mistakes, too.
Today, we’ve released our 200th podcast episode out into the world.
And to mark this milestone, we wanted to share exactly these kinds of stories with you—so that you, too, know you’re not alone.
I asked 6 small business owners to share with me about a time when things weren’t going to plan and how they got back on track.
In this episode, you’ll hear from Kathleen Shannon from Braid Creative, Jason Harrison from Present Tense Fitness, Laura Simms from Your Career Homecoming, Molly Mahar from Stratejoy, author Esme Weijun Wang, and jeweler Megan Auman.
Each of these stories contains some element of essentialism—recognizing the highest value of the business and the business owner and eliminating everything that doesn’t serve that value.
In his book, Essentialism, Greg McKeown writes, “Saying no is its own leadership capability.”
Throughout these stories, you’ll hear business owners recognize the importance of “no” and step up their leadership to get their businesses—and their lives—back on track.
I think, at this point, we all recognize the importance of saying “no” to an opportunity that doesn’t fit our vision. But how many of us are practiced in the art of saying “no” to something we’ve been doing for awhile? Or even something we’ve always done?
How good are you at recognizing a “no” that’s making you money or bringing in new customers? How good are you at recognizing a “no” that takes the form of an unhelpful relationship or a plan you’re already halfway through?
Pay attention to all the times these business owners had to say “no” to open up a new chapter of success—not just the obvious, surface level “nos” but the quiet, internal “nos,” too. Listen for the habits that were changed and the perspectives that got shifted.
And then? Listen for the “yes” at the heart of each of the stories.
Now, let’s find out what works for weathering the ups & downs of entrepreneurship!