An Unflinching Look At Building A Small Business
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How I Learned To Embrace Doing Things I Don’t Feel Like As A Business Owner
Surprise, surprise: there’s more to being a business owner than having free rein in your creative cave or rubbing elbows with digital royalty.
There’s more to it than making your own schedule or enjoying the flexibility of working from the beach.
There’s more to it than living your best life or following your passion.
Now, I know you know this.
But do you do this?
Because I didn’t use to.
I knew I couldn’t just do whatever I wanted to with my schedule, products, or systems and be successful—but I acted like I could.
I ignored the list of Asana tasks piling up in my inbox. I resisted planning and creating ahead of schedule. I shirked the responsibility of leadership.
And I did it because I was an en 👏 tre 👏 pren 👏 eur.
I was a creative.
It was my prerogative.
I had an excuse.
And having an excuse kept me playing small. It kept me conforming to a less mature, less sophisticated understanding of who I am and what I’m about.
Brianna Wiest writes, “Your ‘small self’ is a combination of habits, behaviors, and beliefs you adopted from those around you.”
I adopted those habits, behaviors, and beliefs because I thought the people I observed them in were having more fun. They seemed freer and more fulfilled on the outside.
They weren’t stodgy, disciplined, and overly logical like the other business owners I saw around the virtual water cooler.
But as time went on—thankfully—I realized the people who were always following their bliss were playing small too. I realized they weren’t any freer or fulfilled—they were stressed AF or enjoying the stability of someone else’s discipline.
A few years ago, I decided to grow up.
To start doing the things I didn’t feel like doing. To hold myself accountable to systems, planning, and leadership. To rewrite my habits and redefine what I believe to be true about myself.
It wasn’t comfortable at first (and it still isn’t sometimes) but I’m having more fun as a business owner today than I ever was before.
I feel less stress—even when things aren’t going exactly as I planned them.
What’s more, I’m more proud of what I’m creating, what our team is accomplishing, and how we run things. Our customers are happier. My body of work is more fulfilling to me and more impactful to my audience.
I learned that I don’t have to choose between following my bliss at the expense of discipline or choosing discipline at the expense of following my bliss.
I just had to commit doing what it takes to realize my goals—even if I don’t feel like doing those things sometimes.
Especially if I didn’t feel like doing those things.
Now, as I write all this… I worry.
I worry you’ll think I’m calling you out or putting you down.
That’s certainly not my intention—and, if you’re feeling angry at me right now, I’d suggest taking a look at your daily actions to see whether they line up with you who you really want to be or whether they’re the reflection of a smaller version of yourself based on assumptions about other people.
And then maybe practice doing 1 thing you don’t really feel like doing.
Let me know what happens.
Founder, What Works
Coaching Yourself To Stick With It With Original Impulse Founder Cynthia Morris
Earlier this year, Cynthia Morris celebrated 20 years in business for herself as a coach, writer, and speaker. I wanted to know exactly how she’s made it through 2 decades of entrepreneurship and how her business (and her brain) has evolved during that time. One theme that came up was commitment–and that’s a topic that’s been on my mind, too, as I contemplate my own second decade as a business owner.
So The World Is Falling Apart… How Do You Manage Your Team, Community, or Audience?
The headlines are bleak. And they just seem to get bleaker. On top of that, we’re more divided than ever and there are more people feeling legitimately unsafe in their neighborhoods and workplaces. As leaders, we have a responsibility to work toward create safer spaces for the people we work with and do business with (and it wouldn’t hurt if we stepped it up in our communities, too). I have had a lot of questions about the right way to do this and this article helped a bunch.
You Might Not Expect This To Work On Instagram But It Does
Can Instagram work for your business if you don’t have thousands of stellar headshots or an eye for great design? It sure can. I’ve been microblogging on Instagram all year and it’s not only been creatively rewarding but also effective in growing my audience and engaging with potential customers. This article shares a simple way to get started with microblogging on Instagram.
Don’t Try To Beat The Algorithm… Just Be Helpful
Look, I know it’s annoying that you spend a ton of time marketing your business only to get crickets most of the time. What if you converted half of that time to just genuinely trying to be helpful one person at a time? You could make a few useful introductions every day. You could help 3 people solve a pressing problem. You could offer genuine feedback for someone’s new idea. And, I bet your business would grow faster than it is right now.
Founder & Host of What Works
About What Works Weekly
Every Thursday, I share a candid look at what’s on my mind about running, growing, and lead my small businesses.
Sometimes it’s a lesson I’ve learned about marketing or mindset. Other times, it’s a reflection on a conversation I’ve had with another small business owner.
But every week, it’s an unflinching look at the reality of life as a small business owner—no hype, no gimmicks, no fairy dust.
Want more? Take What Works with you wherever you go with our weekly business podcast—chock-full of insider conversations with small business owners like you.