Allow me to come out and say it…
Growing a business can be an absolute emotional rollercoaster. There can be seemingly-infinite highs and lows. The highs are amazing and the lows will test your patience, your determination, and quite possibly your sense of self.
“Everything’s been done already!”
“They thought of my idea first.”
“What is my message?”
“What is my voice?”
“Who am I, anyways???”
Growing a business can also be one of the greatest opportunities for self-growth, self-expression and world-changing I know of. At its best, it is soul-nourishing, creatively inspiring, wildly motivating and deeply fulfilling.
If you’re crazy/courageous enough to take the journey, you owe it to yourself and the world to do it with your whole heart.
In the words of my friend, Marie Forleo: “There has never been, and there never will be another you. You have a purpose — a very special gift that only you can bring to the world. So when you do what you love, you’ve gotta know this: You’re bringing the world something it doesn’t already have. Your ideas, your passion… Yes, the world really does need what you have to offer and we’re just waiting for you to bring it to us.”
If you’re ready to step up your game, bringing your whole heart into your work, take a deep breath. Let’s talk… There are a few common problems I see when women attempt to bring more of themselves into their work. Below, I’ll outline the ones I see most often, along with the best solutions I know of.
// PROBLEM 1 //
Being unclear on your message and market
Many of us will spend a lot of time obsessing over crafting the perfectly perfect business plan or finding our ever-elusive life purpose, when in fact, what we need to clarify is our core message (what we stand for) and our target market (who we serve). That’s it. When you know these things, it’s far easier to make clear and powerful decisions. The truth is, what you do isn’t nearly as important as why you’re doing it and for whom. For example, my core message is that the world will be set free by women who are free; My market is ambitious women who want to make a difference in the world. Knowing this gives me the freedom to do many different things, while helping me focus on the things that most serve my market and further my message.
Clear your mind, grab a fresh cup of tea and a fresh piece of paper, and ask yourself some big questions. Do not overthink your answers – just trust what flows…
—> If I could give just one gift to the world, what would it be and why?
—> Who do I most want to serve, with what?
The answers to these questions will provide the foundation to move forward with greater confidence and clarity.
// PROBLEM 2 //
Trying to manufacture a persona to show the world
I believe that the time is ending when we want our leaders to appear perfect. A friend once told me, “People want to have a President who they feel like they could have a beer with.” I tend to agree. For people to hire you, they’ll probably want to feel like they know, like and trust you. For them to feel that way, you have to actually let them get to know the real you – the woman you are when you’re with your closest people. Authenticity can’t be faked.
When writing blog posts, walking into meetings with prospective clients, and sending out tweets, pause and reflect… Are you being yourself? Are you coming from a place of validation-seeking or service and self-expression? If you don’t appreciate yourself and your gifts enough to put your real self out into the world, I highly suggest you work with a coach or therapist (an important part of the journey!) to get grounded within yourself, so you’re coming from an aligned place in everything you do.
// PROBLEM 3 //
If running your business looks more like sleeping in, poking around on Facebook, folding laundry and watching cat videos online, you probably don’t feel very accomplished at the end of your days. If running your business looks more like checking emails 20 hours a day, pulling all-nighters on a regular basis, canceling plans with friends because you’re “so busy” and sorting through your 275 item To Do list, you probably feel overwhelmed no matter how much you do. When you over-or-under work, you prevent yourself from being a walking-talking embodiment of your message, while setting yourself up for depression or burnout. To have your whole heart is in the game, you have to be inclusive, taking excellent care of yourself and your business.
It’s critical to integrate both focused hustle and fun & play into your life and work. If you’re struggling with under-or-over working, it’s time to tighten things up. Get ninja with your schedule now (no waiting) and be sure that you have focused time for work and playtime with your loved ones. Without this, you’re not showing up fully, period.
// PROBLEM 4 //
Valuing self-expression over connection
Many women have become weary with the traditional internet marketing lingo (For the low, low price! Act now! ) and have ditched the script in favor of authenticity. Bravo. But…there can be a fine line between self-expression and alienation. When I see women step into a greater space of self-expression in their businesses, I often see a big pendulum swing – they become disconnected from their audience, leaving them feeling confused and alienated, and their businesses start losing traction. Whoops!
If you were having a conversation with a 3-year old, you’d probably express yourself differently than you would if you were speaking to a 45-year old. Why? Because you have to express yourself differently in order to connect with them. This comes back to our first point: know who you’re speaking to. Know their fears, frustrations, desires and dreams. Express yourself AND connect with them. Have a conversation.
// PROBLEM 5 //
Breaking (or making) the rules without first knowing what they are
Most of the greatest innovators in the world started out by studying the rules of the game. An odd example, but perhaps it will work: If you had no idea how to make a basic smoothie, what might you put in it? Well, pizza’s good, so how about mushrooms-tomato-garlic-arugula-cheese? Riiiight. Start with learning a basic recipe, and once you’ve got it down, you can improvise as much as your stomach can handle it. Recipe first.
The way to break (or make) the ‘rules’ is by knowing the rules AND doing what feels right. If you’re stumped when it comes to product launches or copywriting, take a course to guide you along the way. If you already know the rules of the game, stretch yourself to express yourself.
—> In the comments below, I’d love to hear about the challenges you’ve had in putting yourself out there and/or any tips you have for doing it in a bigger way.
p.s. I *highly* recommend Marie Forleo’s B-School. It’s an incredible course for entrepreneurs, and has been a huge part of my business growth. Check it out here — enrollment closes March 2nd 2016!