Don’t let others’ definition of success stop you from creating the life and business you want.
“You know what I will miss about lockdown?” My friend told me. I racked my brain. What was there to miss? Sourdough? Banana bread? Or botched DIY jobs that remind us every day why we pay others to do them?
“The pace of life. I was never worried I had forgotten to do something- there was nothing to do!” My friend ended my reflections. “I mean, normally my head feels like there are 18 tabs open at the same time, and I still keep forgetting stuff I need to do! I hate it!”
“You do know that’s not the way life has to be, right?” I tried to remind her.
She sounded exasperated. “I keep hearing this, but honestly, that’s just a nice saying. Modern life is that way. My business won’t grow if I keep cutting corners. You have to be on social media these days, and that takes forever.
I also want to have passive income- that’s where the money’s at, right? So I need to grow an audience that’s willing to buy that.
And I need to top up my game — I still have these three courses I bought during lockdown that I haven’t finished yet. It just never ends.”
If you feel like my friend, it’s about time you read this.
Feeling overwhelmed might be familiar, but that doesn’t mean it’s normal or necessary.
There was a time I didn’t believe that myself. When running a 6 figure lingerie business, I was convinced that being always overwhelmed was the norm. That’s the way life is for an entrepreneur. It’s what you sign up for in the first years.
So I ploughed on until my body gave in. I wasn’t able to work for months and realised I couldn’t continue that way. So I used all this time to learn more about the inner workings of a business mind. And I realised that we so often focus on the technicalities of running a company that we begin to use outward measures as our yardstick for success.
If we make 6 or 7 figures, that’s a success. Even if we reached that landmark by sacrificing our coffees with friends or giving up holidays, taking time off for ourselves would only make us feel guilty, so we often skip it. And even if we attend family events or the wedding of a friend, we sometimes feel a bit uncomfortable — it’s another thing on the to-do list before we finally get to zoom in on our next quarter again. 83% of millennial women want to start their own business at some point.
We don’t do that because we’re obsessed with money; we get sucked into the very narrow definition of success that the world we live in presents us with. Every time we open Instagram, there is another story of a formerly bankrupt female who is now a millionaire- and she’s more than happy to show you how you can get there too if you pay for her course. It’s not that these stories aren’t true (some are, some aren’t); it’s that they thrive on only one narrative: you are successful if you hit seven figures and run your own business a certain way.
But what if your life doesn’t fit into that box? What if you have small children and want to make them a priority? Are you failing because you’re happy with 5k a month and more time for them? Or you want to run a business on the side first and take it slow? Is it bad if you’re not reaching that elusive 6 figure income within two years? Science says no: the secret of happiness lies in having good relationships- with yourself and others. You can only have that if you fork out some time to invest in them.
Social media stories can be great motivators, but they can also let us lose sight of our own goals.
The beauty of being an entrepreneur is that you can define how you want to work. You don’t like working with groups? Don’t do it. Do you want to work only with people you like? That’s a given (yes, a given.). Social media makes you want to run for the hills? Outsource that work.
There are tips that I shared with over XY clients until today. They will help you to cut through the noise and the drama and let you create a business that aligns with you and your values, not someone else’s. More than that: you can make more money whilst working less. I know you don’t believe me- no one does at first. Until they do it and see it’s true.
Here’s how it works:
UNFOLLOW ACCOUNTS THAT MAKE YOU FEEL STRESSED
You want to know what others in your field are doing so you can replicate that? Copycat tactics only make you look replaceable. They also distract you from your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and can give you the feeling you’re behind. You’re not. Stay on track and look at the things you can bring to the table. The best way to see what works is to…
DOUBLE DOWN ON CLIENTS’ RESEARCH
My clients often overlook that part of the entrepreneurial journey, yet it is the most powerful. Imagine you never have to come up with new product or service ideas- let your customers do that for you! They will tell you what they need. Send them a little questionnaire to find out what bothers them at the moment. If necessary, have a trial run and ask them if the newly developed product solves their problem. And don’t forget the informal research: a chat over a cup of coffee can give you more insights than any official data.
KEEP THINGS SIMPLE
This one is tough to follow: Do not spend too much time on the design of your website, the perfect photos or doing courses to enhance your skills. These things are all helpful, but they are not vital for you to succeed at first. More than that, they can distract you from your core business. One of my clients wanted to learn how to create her own website and bought an online course to teach her that. I showed her that she could have a much more professional-looking result in under 6 hours by signing up with Squarespace.
Do not waste precious time on externals. They won’t give you the ROI you want- they are the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. Yes, you will look good on Instagram, but you want to make money, not collect likes.
The pandemic gave us a unique chance to pause and reflect. Coming out of it means we can now put what we have learned into action. And the biggest lesson of all should be: By following our own needs and wants and not a social media fantasy, we can create the business we want. Minus the sourdough.
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