It’s been 8 years since my divorce.
I remember that one of my biggest fears during that time was:
“Can I make it on my own as a business owner?”
I started my business in 1999 and got married in 2001. While I was married my business contributed to our household income AND we still relied quite a bit on my (ex) husbands salary as well. If I was having a rough month in the business it didn’t really matter that much “Oh well, we have my husband’s income so we are good.”
Up to the point of my divorce, I never had to rely solely on my business to support my family. To pay the bills. To take care of me and the girls.
And keeping it real – that was the scariest part of my divorce. Would my business be able to support us? Or will I have to go find a job? (Would I have to put on pantyhose and go to an office! GASP! 😉
I am proud to say that 8 years later – my business has been the sole provider for my family. Our sole source of income.
So… Have I ‘made it on my own’ as a business owner? Yes and no.
One of my biggest lessons in the past 8 years has been learning how to ask for – and receive – support.
And let me tell you, this does NOT come easily to me! I am a very independent woman by nature. There’s a part of me that hates asking for help… my beliefs of “I should be able to do it myself” or “I don’t want to be a burden on someone else” are pretty deeply ingrained.
But it became pretty obvious post-divorce that there was no way I could do it myself. Be a mom to 2 young girls (they were only 5 & 7 when we split) AND run a business? Phew! I’m tired thinking about it even now.
- I had to learn how to ask for more support in my business – to stop trying to do it all and let my team take on more responsibility (which they were happy to do!)
- I had to learn how to ask for more support as a mom – to help drive the kids to school, pick them up, stay with them when I would travel or when they were driving me nutty and I needed a break
- I had to learn how to ask for more support for ME – to be there when things were tough, to lend a hand, to be a sounding board for my problems
Strangely enough… the key to ‘succeeding on my own’ was realizing that I couldn’t do it all on my own.
I’m curious – how easy is it for you to ask for help?
Is it something that comes naturally? Or are you like me and really struggle to ask for help?
PS – This is a poem I wrote a few years ago that is so reflective of this journey. It was part of an exercise where I was writing to my ideal client, but in reality I was writing it for me. Perhaps it will strike a chord with you.
I see you powerful woman. You move mountains. You make shit happen.
I also see the burden you carry. The one you believe is yours to carry alone.
You’ve proven yourself capable. You can do it. You’ve done it. You’ve earned it.
It’s time now for you to let go. To receive. To open yourself up to what your soul is aching for.
To be seen – not for what you do but for who you are. For your heart and not just your hustle.
GREAT MISSIONS REQUIRE A GREAT DEAL OF SUPPORT.
You are being called, and now is the time.
All you need to do is ask.
Part of the decision when considering what to offer is:
“What kind of challenge do I want to build into my business?”
Do you prefer a CAPACITY challenge or a MARKETING challenge?
When we are a service provider – OBM, VA, agency, etc – we inherently have more of a CAPACITY challenge built into our day-to-day work.
Having to juggle multiple clients. Dealing with tight deadlines and last minute requests. Getting clear on agreements and boundaries. Managing the expectations of clients. And being able to get all the work done (which can be alot!) <– these are all capacity challenges.
The plus side of offering professional services is that once you are established, you don’t have to be as focused on marketing constantly. You can have long term retainers, and referral relationships that send folks your way. Yes, there is still effort required to find clients (especially in the beginning!) but it’s not your day-to-day focus.
Conversely, when we offer leveraged programs – such as coaching, consulting, packages, training, etc – we are required to be in constant MARKETING mode.
Posting on social media. Creating content. Running launches. Advertising. Networking. Keeping on top of the ever changing world of marketing strategies so that we don’t fall behind. <– these are all marketing challenges
Leveraged offerings are generally much easier to manage from a capacity perspective. We create the structure of the offer and deliver it as is (so much less uncertainty and last minute stuff that pops up!)
To be clear – you will encounter both challenges regardless of what you offer.
- There will always marketing challenges as a service provider – it’s just not the main challenge.
- And there will be capacity challenges with leveraged offers – but marketing will be your main day-to-day focus.
So as you consider what you are offering – be sure to ask yourself:
Would I rather have more of a CAPACITY challenge or a MARKETING challenge?
When you know your preference and go into it with eyes wide open, you can prevent a tonne of heartache and frustration down the road.
We’ve talked about how fear is normal – expected! – on the path to creating more of what we want in life. And we’ve also talked about strategies to start befriending your fear.
Now I want to dive into the sneakiest aspect of fear, and why it is so easy for fear to stop us.
Fear likes to show up in disguise as something else… so we don’t even see it and recognize it!
(And if we don’t see it then we can’t befriend it… sneaky right?)
Here’s a few ways fear may be showing up in disguise:
“I’m not ready yet / I don’t know enough yet”
If you have put in the work to build your skills AND still don’t feel like you are ready… chances are there is some fear kicking in. Perfectionism. Analysis paralysis. These can all be symptoms of a deeper fear around feeling like you don’t know enough and don’t want to let people down. The ‘not enough’ fear is one I know all to well and even after 20 years in business it will still sneak up and bite me in the butt “You can’t do that Tina! You don’t know enough yet…” Usually coupled with a healthy dose of “who do you think you are?” or “Can’t you just be happy with what you have?”
“I can’t find clients / There are no good clients out there”
This is one I hear ALOT – especially from newer business owners or those who are transitioning to something new. Here’s the thing – if others are successful doing what you want to do, then it means there are good clients out there. Allow me to say this with all the love in my heart… it’s not that there aren’t clients out there for you, it’s that your fear is stopping you from finding them. Fear of failure – that you might put yourself out there and fall flat on your face (which we all do btw.) Fear of success – that you may create something amazing and outshine those around you (which can be a biggie!)
“I’m confused / I don’t think I want this after all”
This right here is a doozy and one that keeps SO many folks stuck. You decide you want something, you work towards it, get your first client/project/opp then decide “Nah, this isn’t what I want.” So you find something else, work towards it, get your first client and feel the same way again so you keep on looking… wondering when you will ever find ‘the thing’ so you can finally be successful. Confusion is just fears way to talk yourself out of your own success… usually right when you are on the verge of a breakthrough! If you find yourself in a confusion loop ask yourself “Is it that I don’t know what I want? Or is it that I know what I want but am afraid that I can’t have it? That I’m not ready, not good enough, won’t succeed, etc….”
I’m curious if any of these resonate with you? I daresay I’ve lived them all at some point on my journey (and still do.)
If you look back at this list you will see that these are all REASONABLE explanations. On the surface, they seem to make sense and are logical… which is why they are so sneaky! When fear shows up as a reasonable explanation we can so easily talk ourselves out of taking the steps we want to take, because we have a good excuse not too.
Make a list of all the reasons why you haven’t yet achieved what you want, and look for the fear underneath. You might be surprised at what you find.
In my last article we talked about how fear isn’t something to fear (haha). Rather, its a normal part of the growth process and is often a strong indicator that we are on the right track.
When we befriend our fear – instead of resist it – then our fear can actually become an ally.
The first step to befriending fear is to get to know it. To sit down and have an imaginary coffee date with our fear.
Here’s one of my favorite journaling exercises to work with fear.
First, write down a goal that you want to achieve that isn’t moving forward. A goal that feels stuck.
Ask yourself the following questions.
- What would be at risk if I were to really go after this goal? (relationships, sense of self, habits, income, security)
Risk is a natural part of the growth process and often acts as a trigger to bring up fear.
- What are some fears that are active for me around this goal?
A few examples are fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, fear of being seen/visible, fear of not being liked.
- Where else does this fear show up in my life? What behaviors does this fear cause me to take? (or not take?)
Get real with yourself about how this fear impacts your behavior.
- What aspect of my personal power is this fear calling out in me? (courage, authenticity, setting clear boundaries)
Our fears will reflect the very things that we are being called to own in ourselves.
A funny thing happens when we dig deeper and get to know our fear. It loses it’s power over us.
It shifts from being ‘the enemy’ to a trusted guide whose company we may not always enjoy, but who we know is here to serve a purpose.
I’m curious, what journaling questions or exercises do you like to do around fear? Hit reply and let me know.
Oh the amount of time I’ve spent over the years trying to run away from fear. Thinking that it was ‘wrong’ and that if I was going to be successful I needed to first get rid of my fear.
I would do all kinds of things to avoid my fear – stuff it down, distract myself, pretend it wasn’t there – only to find that it kept coming back. Sometimes larger and more consuming than before.
So I would dig in and try more ‘fear busting strategies’. Meditation. Positive thinking. Affirmations. The good ole ‘suck it up princess and do it anyway’ approach.
Some of these strategies would work for a while… until I wore out from all the pushing and found my old friend fear still there beside me. It felt like running on a treadmill trying to get across town – spending so much energy and ultimately ending up in the same place.
There was a moment a few years back when something struck me about fear.
What if fear wasn’t here to stop me, but was instead here to shine a light on future possibilities.
Hmmm… I had to sit with that for a moment.
And as I sat with it something became clear – fear only showed up when I was looking to make a shift of some kind.
When I was looking to go from ‘where I am now’ to ‘where I want to go next.’
Fear doesn’t show up when things are easy. Comfortable. When we feel 100% confident and in charge of life.
Oh no – fear only shows up when we want more from life. When we want to make a change.
And in my experience, the more fear that shows up… the closer we are to our truth. Our purpose.
Put simply – we can look at fear as the enemy or we can look at fear as a friend.
If we look at fear as the enemy we will keep fighting it. We will try to find a way to ‘push through it’, avoid it or keep on thinking positive thoughts pretending it’s not there.
If we befriend fear then a couple of really cool things start to happen.
We recognize that fear is normal and positive. It’s a natural part of the growth process and not something we need to resist. “Hello fear… I see you. I know I’m looking at some changes and I recognize that you being here is a sign that I’m on the right track.”
We can honor that fear is here to protect us. Why does fear show up when things are changing? Because it wants to keep us safe. It wants to keep us where we are now because it’s known. Making a change forces us to step into the unknown and fear doesn’t like that. “What if this doesn’t work out? What if I try and I fail? May as well just stay here with what I know… even if I don’t enjoy it.”
When we look at fear differently we can get to know it better, so that we can work ‘with’ our fear instead of always trying to fight it.
I have a few journaling questions I like to ask my fear when it shows up that I’ll share in my next post.