I spent many years trying to find my purpose, only to find it was right there in front of me.
Business is my purpose.
Being in business. And helping others with their businesses.
It’s what I love. It’s what I do best. It’s what I’ve done now for almost 23 years (I started my first business in the fall of 1999.) And it’s what I plan to do for the rest of my life.
Why was it so hard for me to see this for so many years? Because I thought that my purpose was supposed to be about doing one very specific thing.
And that when I found that ONE thing, I would be set for life. Everything would fall into place and I could just keep chugging along on that one track.
But that’s not how things have gone for me. I’m just not wired to do one thing forever (perhaps you can relate?)
My business has changed like the seasons – I’ve done many different things over the years.
I’ve had seasons as a 1-1 service provider. A writer. A trainer. A coach.
I’ve written books and launched programs. I’ve led retreats and done high-level consulting gigs. I’ve run an agency. I’ve created memberships, trainings and a certification program.
I’ve enjoyed all the things I’ve done! I’ve had a lot of fun and worked with amazing people, BUT that part of me that was thinking I had to find my ‘one thing’ was always feeling frustrated and frankly, a bit judgey!
“Woah Tina, make up your mind! Can’t you just pick something and stick with it? This is getting ridiculous…”
I judged myself for wanting more. Wanting things to be different. For getting bored with something and wanting to do something else. A part of me even felt a bit like an imposter “How can you help others in their business when you can’t even seem to stick to one thing in your own business?!”
Until recently when it occurred to me.
What if our purpose isn’t about the thing we do… instead, it’s about the THREAD that ties it all together.
And that when we know our ‘thread’ – our purpose – it can take various forms through the lifecycle of our business.
For me that thread is business – it’s woven into everything I do. It’s been there every step of the way. It’s the common denominator in the many different things I’ve offered over the years.
I was speaking with someone yesterday about a change that he is making in his business. He is a tech whiz and it’s his favorite thing to do. He started his business as a tech VA years ago, has worked as an OBM for many years and is now up leveling his business to focus exclusively on tech automation in marketing. To help clients make sure that all the tech aspects of their marketing strategies are streamlined, working and producing the results they want to create. Even though his role has changed over the years, the ‘thread’ of tech has always been there.
So long as we remain true to our ‘thread’, then we are on purpose in our business! Even if what we are doing changes over time.
Every time I work with a client this is one of the very first things we look at together – what is their thread? And how does that get woven into the work they are meant to do in the world – what I loving refer to as their True Work.
I’m curious – what do you consider to be your ‘thread’? Your purpose? Is it something that you feel clear about, or is it something you are still exploring?
Comment below to let me know.
I never expected to find myself in this place. To be feeling this way after alllll the work I’d done to get here.
And I wasn’t sure what to do about it…
Let me backup first to the beginning, and tell you what led to this point.
I started the Online Business Manager Certification program in 2009. OBM was a phrase I had coined years before to describe the work I was doing with clients – partnering with them at a leadership level to run and grow their businesses. Helping to set a solid foundation of systems, team and structure for the business to grow upon. I had worked directly with clients as an OBM in my own business since 2003, and it was time to teach others to do the same and create their own amazing OBM businesses.
It was a revolutionary program for service providers at the time, as options were limited in those days if you were a ‘get it done’ professional (Virtual Assistant or Web Designer were pretty much your main choices back then).
The OBM Certification was successful right out of the gate. There was a high-demand for folks who wanted to become OBMs, and for those who wanted to hire them! And I’m so proud today of what the OBM industry has become – with thousands of OBMs working as essential team members for fast growing online businesses.
We worked hard to set a strong foundation for my business over those years – solid systems and an amazing team that ran the day to day of everything so that I wasn’t bogged down in the details.
I taught the OBM Certification training myself for 9 years, and in 2018 I opened the door for licensed trainers. This freed me up even more from the business as I now had an amazing team of trainers (shout out to Keldie, Shar & Amanda!) who lead the training and are equally as passionate about helping folks become Certified OBMs.
You would think I’d reached the pinnacle of success, yes? A business that has helped thousands of people and established an industry. One that makes good money on a consistent basis, while requiring only a handful of hours from me each week.
But this is where I found myself in that funny place I mentioned earlier…
I expected to feel like I had finally “made it” – that I could sit back and relax. Enjoy the fruits of my labor.
But instead I found myself feeling mostly bored. Unfulfilled. Unmotivated. And I was so surprised to be feeling this way!
Was there something wrong with me? Why couldn’t I feel happier having reached the place I had worked so hard to get to? A part of me felt guilty about feeling this way. “You should just be happy with what you have Tina.”
And then one day it hit me…
Some of us are NOT meant to be just one thing – to reach our goals and then just sit back and relax.
As a growth oriented entrepreneur just like you, I have more things I want to do and create in the world now that my current business is running smoothly and helping so many people.
And that boredom I’d been feeling? It was a sign that I’m meant to do something more. That I was ready for my own next level.
I started to wonder… What could my next thing be? What would I love to do more than anything? What would light the fire again so that I could get back to enjoying my business?
I paid attention to the conversations I was having with friends and colleagues – what were my favorite topics? What could I talk about all day and never get bored of?
I hired coaches to help me explore my options and clear all the ‘mind gunk’ that was getting in the way.
I began creating offers here and there to test a few things out. Working with a handful of smaller groups and private clients to start to really hone in on what I wanted to do next. To see where I could have the most impact and what was lighting up my soul.
What came clear to me during this exploration is that I love helping others find their True Work – the highest expression of who they are and what they are meant to do in this world. To help them create up leveled offerings around their True Work and lovingly transition their business into that space.
I have a knack for seeing what is possible for someone – their next level of success that will be wildly fulfilling for them and serve their clients deeply.
The folks I work with are highly motivated like you and I. We set goals for ourselves, and once we reach them we aren’t content to just stay put.
We KNOW that we are meant for something more. We can feel it deep down in our bones… even if we don’t know yet exactly what it is, we know that it’s there.
This is your True Work calling to you, and if this resonates I’d love to support you on this journey.
I’ve got a few new offerings to work with folks to bring their True Work to life, and would be happy to send you details if this feels timely for you.
Faith plays a very important role in our business success, and I don’t just mean in a ‘woo woo’ law of attraction kind of way. (I’m actually not a big fan of law of attraction, but more on that another time 😉
There are 3 types of faith required for business success:
The first is faith in something bigger than ourselves. Be it God, the Universe, our Higher Self or whatever it is that aligns with our beliefs. This type of faith can be based in religion, spirituality or just in how we see the world. Personally, I am not a religious person (although I was raised in the Lutheran church), but I do certainly believe in a higher power / God.
This type of faith is important so that we believe that good things can happen to and for us. We believe that there is something out there that wants more for us as well, and is playing a part in helping to send opportunities our way. If we struggle in our faith here it can be hard to see opportunities as they arise, and we can get stuck in the space of “this isn’t meant for me” or “good things never come my way.”
Second is having faith in ourselves. Will we take the action required to create the success that we want? Do we make commitments to ourselves and keep them? Having faith in ourselves is all about ACTION and knowing that we can and will do what it takes to make things happen.
When we struggle with taking action or sticking with the commitments we’ve made with ourselves, our self faith can become weakened. We may find ourselves in a spiral of “I know what I should be doing but I’m not doing it” or “I can’t seem to make this happen so I’m not sure if I’m really cut out for this”. This lack of faith can be devastating to our success, as it will have us constantly doubting ourselves and our abilities.
And to be clear, we all have these self-doubt moments! Especially in times of growth and challenge… the key is to ensure that we are doing what it takes to shift out of doubt and back into action. Every time we make and keep a promise to ourselves and take action – even with the little things – it build up our self faith.
Third is having faith in the people around us. Even if we are a solopreneur – business is not a solo activity! We have clients, team and many other folks who cross our path along the way. Do we believe that they will do their part in creating a great working relationship? That they will keep their word and get things done? That they will be honest and show up in integrity?
This type of faith can be especially challenging if we’ve been burned in the past. If we’ve had a rough client experience or a team member that didn’t fulfill on their promises, we may find ourselves doubting and questioning everyone around us. And yet, we need to trust and rely on other people as part of our business success. We need to develop and hone our leadership skills so that we can build strong working relationships with the folks around us.
I’m curious, how would you rate your level of faith in each of these 3 areas? And how do you feel that level of faith affects your business?
If you rate yourself higher in 1 or 2 areas but lower in another area – what impact is that having on your business right now?
For example, I remember a period of growth a few years back when my faith in God was quite high, but faith in myself was low… I wasn’t sure if I was truly ready or able to step into my next level. I found myself in a cycle of “Let go and let God – just sitting back waiting for things to happen” vs. taking action to make them happen. Thankfully my coach at the time shone a light on this pattern for me and lovingly kicked my butt to get going. Yes, God plays a part in all of this but we have to show up and do our part too.
A common one I’ve seen with clients is having a high level of faith in themselves, but a low level of faith in the people around them… particularly with team. Which put them in a cycle of hiring someone, becoming disappointed when they don’t meet their standards and taking all the work back onto their own plates. They know they can do the work themselves and do it right, but didn’t trust the people around them to do the same. (Thankfully these situations are fixable.)
I’d love to hear what comes up for you here – comment below to let me know.
Purpose and passion are not necessary to succeed in business.
In fact, they could be getting in the way of our success! Especially in the early days.
There is so much out there that tells us that we “should build a business around our purpose and what we are passionate about”… and yes, I do agree with this BUT not to begin with.
Let’s take a look at the life cycle of business growth through the lens of purpose. Business growth can be broken out into 3 stages.
- Stage 1 – Start Up. Our focus in stage one is to find a product/service the people want to buy from us, and to get good at selling it. The goal of stage 1 is to create a full clientele and/or a steady stream of income with products.
- Stage 2 – Foundation. Now that we have money coming in the door and feel solid in our ability to sell, stage 2 is about looking at our business foundation. Getting solid operations in place. Refining our offerings. Bringing on the right team members to get us out of the day-to-day and free us up to focus on continued growth.
- Stage 3 – Scaling. With a solid foundation in place we can now work towards the longer term vision and goals of the business. We can work towards serving more clients in bigger ways and doing what we really love to do with a team of amazing people.
Purpose and passion are NOT necessary in stage 1. This may be contrarian to what other folks say, but in my experience they can inadvertently become more of a hinderance than a helper.
It’s important in stage 1 that we stay focused on these 2 things – finding something that people want to buy from us and getting good at selling it. The thing we sell in stage 1 doesn’t have to be the ultimate expression of our purpose and passion. It just needs to get the ball rolling so that we can start to make money and get experience working with clients and/or delivering our product.
This isn’t to say that you should start a business you don’t enjoy at all or that is out of integrity for you! Ugh, no thanks. But you certainly can start a business based on the things you know already and are good at, but that aren’t necessarily the fullest expression of your purpose or passion.
If we focus too much on purpose or passion in stage 1 – we may never even get our business off the ground! I’ve seen countless folks fall into the trap of “I must find my passion!” or “I need to make sure I’m living my purpose” to the point where they never even get their business off the ground. Or – even worse – they start working with clients, run into a challenge or two, think that means they are off-track (or off purpose) so they stop what they are doing to look for the next “right thing.” This puts them into an exhausting cycle of constantly starting over.
Purpose becomes more important in stage 2 of your growth journey. Once you’ve got the ball rolling, you have clients and you are making consistent income – NOW is the best time to bring your purpose into the mix. You’ve created fertile soil for your purpose work to emerge.
This is where I work with most of my clients. They want to hone in on their zone of genius. They want to refine their offerings to focus on the work they are meant to do. They want to create an environment of support around them (team & systems) that allows them to let go of the stuff they should no longer be doing so they can focus on doing what matters most. They want to step into their next level of leadership so they can bring this all to life.
I’ve made a few “eek” decisions in my business recently – you know, the kind that get your heart pounding and bring up ALLL your stuff.
Decisions around investing in additional support and coaching for myself, so that I can birth the next level of my business.
Because frankly, I wasn’t getting there on my own. Despite my best intentions. Despite trying to kick my own butt. I’ve been feeling stuck and unmotivated for months now, even though I KNOW I’ve got some big stuff brewing.
I don’t know if you relate to this, but my Achilles heel is thinking that I can figure everything out on my own. That just because I am amazing at helping others find clarity and step into their next level, that I shouldn’t need help to do that myself.
Uh nope. Wrong. That right there is the kind of thinking that keeps us small. And stuck. The truth is we actually need MORE help when we are up leveling. Especially when we have a big vision and big plans.
What is so “eek!” about the decisions I’ve been making?
- I’m investing beyond my comfort zone. I don’t know that this is true for everyone, but it certainly is true for me… if I really want to get off my butt and get moving, I need to invest at a price point that is a bit scary. A price point that matters. It’s been a while since I’ve done this and ooooeee! Here I am once again.
- It is bringing up all my stuff! When we invest (literally) in our next level it starts to bring up all of our stuff. All of the “who do I think I am” stuff. All of the impostor syndrome and “OMG – what if this doesn’t work? What if I end up living in a van down by the river!?” (Nod to those who get this 90s SNL reference, hehe). Let’s just say my ‘stuff’ has been in full effect this past week, which lets me know I’m right on track. 😉
- I know I’m going to have to let go of some things. Up leveling requires us to let go of what is no longer serving us in order to make room for what comes next. I don’t know yet exactly what I need to let go of, but I do know that the Tina I am now is not the Tina I need to become for my next level.
And so here I am, crossing my fingers and jumping on in!
I’m curious… when was the last time you made an “eek!” decision?
Is there any part of you right now that is calling you to make an “eek!” decision that you’ve been avoiding?
I remember when I was going through my divorce back in 2013… I was wondering how much I should be sharing publicly at the time and a friend of mine said:
“Share from the scar, not from the wound”
Meaning, don’t share too much while you are going through it all as it might be a turn off for folks. Wait instead to share after you’ve healed so that you can show up in a more empowered ‘here’s what I learned’ way.
At the time it made total sense to me. And I chose not to share too much of what was going on while it was happening (outside of sharing with my inner circle of friends and clients.)
But now? I’m not so sure I agree with this anymore… and I’m curious for your thoughts.
These days I find that I SO appreciate hearing about the sh%t that others are going through, as they are going through it and not just as a ‘lesson learned’ after the fact.
When I pause to consider why I appreciate this… a few things come to mind:
- It shows me that other folks are dealing with crap as well, and that I’m not alone <– that’s a biggie! it’s so easy to feel like we are the only ones dealing with stuff when we are knee deep in it.
- It allows me to connect with them human-to-human… and not just based on the “everything is awesome and my life is amazing” persona that it feels like we are supposed to be showing up as online
- There’s also something about witnessing it in real time, as it unfolds, that feels much more powerful than something shared after the fact.
I so appreciate and value when others “keep it real” and show up in the truth of their messiness BUT I have a hard time doing this myself.
For example, last year was the worst year I’ve ever experienced in my business. There was a circumstance in the spring that resulted in unhappy students and the ending of a business partnership. The experience shook me to the core and caused me to question everything about myself… do I really have anything of value to offer? Have I been letting folks down all along and didn’t know it? How was I so blind to some of what was going on right under my nose?
It was emotionally draining and challenging on all levels, to the point where I was ready to throw in the towel on my business many, many times (and secretly wishing I could just get rid of it all). And yet I still felt like I had to keep showing up in an empowered way. I had to keep showing a positive face to everyone around me so that folks would think I am strong and capable and have my sh%t together.
On one hand yes, as a leader I did need to show up in my strength for my team, my clients and the business. And on the other hand, would it have been wrong to also share some of the challenging aspects as well? There was a part of me that really wanted to, but that phrase “share from the scar and not the wound” kept me from doing so. And my fear that you would think less of me if I did share how much of a struggle it has been. The truth is I lost my mojo last year and am still recovering from all of it.
It was a for real “pull up your big girl panties and keep on going” year (I’ve actually thought of starting a podcast with that name, LOL… perhaps I will?)
I’m curious, how do you feel when people share the tough stuff? The messy stuff?
Does it make you think less of them? Or does it make you feel more connected?
Do you find it helpful to hear about this stuff? Or does it feel unnecessary and maybe a bit TMI?
Do you – like me – find it strangely inspiring to know that other folks struggle as well?
Comment below let me know.,. I’d love to hear your perspective.
And may we all continue to grow together in the messiness of being human in business. <3