Have you ever dreamt of ditching the cubicle, staff meetings, awkward chats with co –workers, cranky bosses, office politics, (and steady paycheck) of a traditional 9-5 job? Do you envision opening a retreat center, creating iPhone apps, designing clothing, teaching transformative workshops, coaching and inspiring others, starting an online business, or the like? Or perhaps you have already taken the leap and are forging forward in the direction of your dreams?
Whatever your story, finding the right livelihood is a crucial pillar of happiness and spiritual satisfaction, and is something we all must engage.
Finding the place where your passions —and your income — intersect can be a challenging yet terrific dance.
Oftentimes, this dance involves starting a business and working for your self. (Yikes!)
When starting a new business venture, you are accepting a “call to adventure”, and following a path that inspires you, whether that inspiration is found in your actual work, or the reasons behind your desire for a certain income. You are listening to this inspiration more deeply than the pull of the “status quo”, and are creating something of value to serve the needs of others, while improving your own life. This is no small feat!
I believe the path of a business owner is a hero’s journey.
It will challenge you, require that you grow as a person, make you face your most profound fears, doubts, frustrations and obstacles, and if approached powerfully can create an outcome that is of great benefit to lots of people.
So how can you accept the call to start your own business and persevere through the turbulent and uncertain first few years? You must learn to banish doubt and roll with fear — the adversaries of success.
Here are five ways to find the success:
1. Get the right support to lay a good foundation
An entrepreneurial endeavor can be isolating. You are assuming the risks, responsibilities and decision-making. I’ve seen too many passionate entrepreneurs start businesses without consulting people who have experience with systems, bookkeeping, forecasting, marketing, and best practices. Often, the result is this: new business owners trudge and struggle along, and —if they even make it for a few years — they need to do a huge overhaul and change everything they had set up.
It’s so much easier to invest in the right support at the beginning, not only so you suffer less in the process, but to increase the likelihood of being successful. When you have a solid foundation, you can relax into its support, and focus on doing your fabulous work in the world!
2. Ground your dreams in the language of numbers
Numbers are what bridge the intangible visionary world with the concrete material world. No matter how clear your vision, or how dedicated you are, unless you know exactly where your business sits on the continuum between your idea and your reality, you will experience a lot of challenges, such as anxiety, doubt and confusion with your head in the clouds.
To experience courage and clarity in your business, you will need to be able to answer the following questions:
- How much money do you need to earn to live? To run your business?
- Where are you going to spend on new business growth? How much?
- How long until you can realistically have a sustainable income? What are you going to do in the meanwhile?
- Will you need investors? Loans? Part-time work?
- What is your revenue model?
Knowing the answers to these questions will banish doubt and help you roll with fear, because you will be looking your business —with its needs and your needs from it — right in the eye.
3. Set up financial systems that are clear and easy to use
Lots of new business owners think bookkeeping, tracking, forecasting and revenue modeling, filing and organizing are complicated and hard to do. Well, they don’t have to be! I work with clients to set up systems that are remarkably simple, and even fun to use. I think of budgets as maps of intention that track where you are going and how you are getting there, for example. That is a fun way for me to feel excited about my accounting, and of course, everyone has different styles. Remember, your financial systems are the foundation of your business, so make sure you feel great about whatever you are using! Get help if you need it.
4. Don’t be afraid to look at your numbers
If you don’t look at your numbers on a regular basis, of course you will be afraid and have doubts! You will have no idea how you are actually doing, and your mind will make up all kinds of stories. Looking at your numbers will show you what is working, and what problems need to be solved. If you can’t see any of that, you can remain stuck for a long, long time.
If you have so much fear around looking at your bank balance, or profit and loss sheet, that you are too paralyzed to do it, get some support to understand where that particular fear is coming from. You are likely playing out an old pattern from childhood that now needs to be conquered. Remember, you are a badass warrior! It is so possible to go straight into the fears and prove them to be the illusions they are, with, of course, the right kind of support.
5. Continue to take informed risks
When you take a risk, you face the abyss of the unknown. The bigger the risk, the bigger the potential for amazing things to happen. Sometimes you will get what you want, and sometimes you won’t. But this is the only way you will have the experience of knowing what is possible. Taking appropriate risks on a regular basis allows you to expand your ability to succeed; you’ll realize you can do more than you ever thought possible. My teacher taught me to “fail big or succeed big.” Everything else is mediocre. As long as you are taking risks, you will feel alive and be evolving in the process.
So there you have it, my fellow entrepreneurial warriors. Thank you for dreaming big, stepping up, and saying YES to your “call to adventure”. I wish you all the boons of the hero’s journey on your way.