You did it. You took the leap to follow your passion and combine your life purpose with making a living. Congratulations - you are well on your way to being your own boss babe. There may or may not have been some rough patches along the way and there will certainly be more but those are what makes the journey worth it.
A word of warning: This is not a letter to tell you to keep going no matter what. It is a letter to help you reflect on what might be the right move for you (and sometimes that does mean knowing when to quit).
Know that you are not alone.
All entrepreneurs consider giving up at some point – I know I have, more than once. We also do need to know when to shut things down, to learn from what worked, as well as from what is not working and what is not sustainable. We need to learn to know how to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get back into the world in a way that works for us. Sometimes we just need a moment to process the challenges of being an entrepreneur. It is a mind shift, and it comes with its own unique blend of gifts and challenges that are different from a steady 9 to 5 gig. It is not always better or worse but it is important to be clear on what is most important for you and how this fits with regular vs. self-employment. There tend to be more cycles with self-employment and knowing you are not alone is sometimes all that we need. Other times the ongoing question of whether to throw in the towel can point to a deeper problem that needs our attention.
Go back to basics.
All businesses need a basic business plan. If you didn’t do this in the beginning, it is time to get a clear picture of your bottom line. This needs to include a financial breakdown of what your minimum income needs to be to support your lifestyle. You also need a plan B, and to know when to re-evaluate or even when to shut it down. You need to know your own timeline and risk tolerance level.
Without a clear bottom line, you may fall into the trap of selling yourself and your skills, services and talents short. Speaking for myself, I often gave away far too much of my time for free. I wanted to accommodate my customers and put their needs first, so when they expressed financial barriers, I would work for a reduced rate. Later, I learned I was discounting my services for people who far out-earned me. Yes, I was doing work that I loved, but I wasn’t putting enough value on myself and my talents – and this cost me. It cost not only my time, but my energy, which led me to experience feelings of dissatisfaction and burn out.
Avoid becoming resentful and burnt out, and instead take the time at the beginning to create professional boundaries and a viable financial plan. This will help you in determining when you can lean in for customers, and when you need to prioritize you and your business for the sake of long-term success and sustainability.
Create a sustainable plan and take steps to fix what is not working – both the external and the internal levels
This can mean addressing both the day-to-day business systems and processes that are not working, as well as doing our own deeper work to get to the heart of our own contribution to the problem. Difficulty setting boundaries, our comfort with our own value, and charging for our time and services can block us from getting out there to promote our business and can trip us up in taking the steps we need to take to feeling comfortable in our preferred business model.
Even after shutting down my first service-based practice I knew that I wanted to create another practice – but I had also learned that I would have to do it in a different way. It took time and work for me to financially recover and to seek additional training to be able to offer spiritual and intuitive based services in an evidenced-based way. I also needed to take the time to address the internal factors that led to the failure of my first business before I was ready to take the leap again. I also sought training, support and supervision in learning about business in a way that felt good to me. I found heart-centered business models and I had to pull my head out of the sand to actually be aware of the numbers and bottom line. I had and continue to have a plan B in place.
I had to work on my own boundaries and the value of my own service and time. I had to get better at saying ‘no’ with love and letting go of guilt for not being able to meet all requests for my time. I worked on healing limiting beliefs such as “I can’t do what I love for money,” or my own discomfort about charging others for ‘helping’ or ‘healing’ services. I had to learn to better honour my time and to set healthy and sustainable boundaries and limits. I had to realize I can be of service in a sustainable way, by still giving generously in ways that are in alignment for me while doing the work I love.
Life purpose can be a tricky concept – it has a different meaning for different people. Some people define their life purpose by their bank accounts, others by the stamps on their passports and many by the role they play in molding and shaping their children.
For myself, I don’t believe our life purpose is limited to how we make an income. I also think we get to have a say in creating a life that is meaningful to us. This can change and evolve over time. It is important to be clear on your top values and priorities and to have a grounded plan for executing your vision. If how this works out in the end changes from your initial vision, know that it is all part of the process. It is not a matter of failure, but it is a matter of knowing what you need and what is best for you.