Honoring and Appreciating Connections
The entrepreneurial life can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, those who reach out to others are likely to find it easier to build their business, if for no other reason than you can’t build a business without clients.
But connections are so much more than potential clients. They are ideas we might not otherwise consider. They’re encouragement when we’re feeling low. They are the ones who share tips and tricks to help get us out of our latest rut. But most of all, they’re the ones who share in our successes and allow us to share in theirs.
Learning From the Lessons and Mistakes of Our Community
My own community is constantly evolving. Lately, I’ve joined a number of entrepreneurial groups on both Facebook and LinkedIn. I’ve found some to be great places to hang out, learn and give and take what’s worked and what hasn’t. Others have fallen by the wayside as I discovered they were either not very active or more about the group owner promoting her own products than about having a supportive community. A couple I’ve found to be pretty amazing are Coaches, Experts, Change Makers: Step Into the Spotlight run by Vanessa Talbot, and Radical Wealth Pathway run by Catherine Lee. Interestingly, the groups are at both ends of the spectrum. Catherine’s group currently has less than 50 members while Vanessa’s has over 15,000. This says little about the value or engagement in either group, however. Both women are very active in their groups and are encouraging the members as well as launching programs to help their target audience.
I may not be the ideal client for each of these dynamic women; I benefit not only from associating with them and participating in their groups, but in learning from and engaging with the people they attract. I’m learning to listen to suggestions and plans with an open mind even when they kick my comfort zone in the proverbial butt. Yet recently, I’m also learning I need to be more selective about which paths I choose to embrace.
In the last few years, I’ve changed my life so drastically, it’s hardly recognizable any more. Some of those changes have been for the better, while others—not so much. I’ve stuck with some for months on end, only to have life’s usual upheavals screw me up, leaving me to start again. (my gym routine for one). I’ve started others, like getting up by 8 AM and stuck with them for a while, only to let those same upheavals have me fail myself again.
From those failures I’ve learned over and over to be more committed to myself and my own success. I’ve learned I need to make changes gradually, but not give up on making them. I’ve also learned that when I get suggestions from the amazing, talented, successful women in my community, I need to put them together on a list and figure out which ones will not only benefit me, but which I’ll be able to successfully commit to.
It all came to a head for me when Anna Shelley posted her #intention in Coaches and Change Makers. She said:
That’s 2.5 years of finally accepting I couldn’t do my old biz any more, going within DAILY, learning the brain science behind transformation, teaching myself clairvoyance, accepting that I am Artist AF and ALLOWING my biz to be a messy convoluted combination that should technically not even work. 2.5 years of defining and refining all of this – journaling my heart out – literally writing my reality into existence.
Her words stopped me in my tracks. For 3.5 years I’ve been listening to a lot of different people tell me how to create my business, promote my business, and structure my business. I’ve felt like I’ve failed myself because I couldn’t get the hang of successfully pitching (except to publications who either don’t pay, pay mere pennies a word, or expect you to pay for advertising in order to get published). I was convinced I was just doing it all wrong until I read Anna’s words.
In a way, I have been doing it all wrong, but not in the way I thought. I’ve been trying to do it someone else’s way instead of following my own heart! It’s a lot like my chili cook-off days when I learned you cannot take the comments of all the judges to heart or you’ll end up with an unpalatable mess. My efforts at creating a successful business had become just that; an unpalatable mess.
Building on Our Specialties
I’ve spent way too much time trying to be a copywriter and VA instead of focusing on what I’m truly good at. I’ve fought with myself over being too scattered when I tried to promote my accounting business and my writing. Anna’s words made me realize I’m very good at both, so why close off one in favor of the other? In fact, my ADD brain loves having the opportunity to switch gears. I’ve even discovered that I have sweet spots, time wise when I’m better at one or the other.
Contrary to my previous pattern of writing from 10PM until 2 or 3AM, I’m finding I write better when I get to it within a couple of hours of writing my morning pages. My creative juices are flowing and the habit of writing is alive and well.
Doing accounting work seems to flow better between about 2PM and 9PM. I don’t know why, nor does it really matter. All I know is that I find it easier to focus and hold that focus for several hours at a stretch after my writing is done, lunch is eaten, and errands or meditation are behind me. Somehow, that’s just when my analytical brain kicks in and is ready to kick some butt and take names.
After a couple of days of giving my brain what it wants, I feel more accomplished and positively energized. While I still don’t have a marketing plan in place, or even a solid business plan, work is starting to come my way without all the effort and strain I’ve been exerting for so long.
Who’s on Your Virtual Team?
We all need a virtual team. Even hermits like me. We need the builder uppers and the ones who show us it can be done despite the obstacles in our way. We’re inspired by the successes of those around us and learn from the mistakes people make before getting back up and trying again. And if you’re like me, we can use a little butt kicking now and then when we let our failures stop us in our tracks instead of seeing the lessons they contain.
My virtual team includes people from all directions; high school classmates (and some from even further back), coaches I’ve met online, artists and writers from some of the groups I’ve joined, and many people who have become friends virtually and live all over the world. They all bring something new to my life and help me grow into my full potential. I’d be so much less without them.
Giving and Taking Encouragement
Many of those virtual teammates have given me a lot of their time both directly and indirectly. They share articles which shine a light on the darkness of my frustration. They take the time to offer suggestions on how I can regain my forward momentum. The very best thing the do, though is to share their successes and insight into how they got there.
I don’t mean the ones who are constantly yammering on about 6-figure incomes (and frankly, many of those are so young, I find it hard to take their claims seriously). I have to agree with Vanessa on this one, and cry “bullshit”. The internet allows us to fake a lot of things besides just news. So many of these people are working too hard drumming up business to truly be making and sustaining those incomes they claim.
I’m talking about the ones who are as down-to-earth as I am, and who are focused on helping others achieve their goals, get past their blocks, and thrive. They don’t talk about how much money they’re making because they know their ideal client couldn’t give a flying one about their real or alleged income. It has little to no bearing on their decision to hire a coach to level-up their business. They’re looking for a coach who is part cheerleader, part butt-kicker, and part mastermind. Frankly, focusing on the money makes me feel like just another statistic or notch in someone’s belt.
Some people believe the hype about putting your money where your mouth is. For me, I’d rather see the actions support the words.
Recognition for Your Accomplishments
You have to be your own cheerleader too, though. One of the best ways I’ve found to do that is to list a few things I’ve accomplished, daily or weekly. At the top of my list is always “made my bed”. To some, that’s a small thing, but to many of us, it is the first thing we accomplish when we start our day, and that’s worth celebrating.
Whatever you might have accomplished, be it huge like booking a high dollar client, or small like making the bed or unloading the dishwasher, they’re all worth celebrating. Seeing we’ve made progress on anything is the most motivating action we can take to accomplish even more. I know the days when I can only think of 4 or 5 things to put on that list give me the kick in the butt I need to re-visit the never-ending to-do list in the days to follow (like today when I’m knocking a couple of past due blog posts off my editorial calendar!).
Gratitude for Things Large and Small
Ending my posts with several gratitudes has become a habit, but it’s also something which makes me feel I’ve had a good day, no matter what. When I forget about my gratitudes; when I fail to recognize the good things in my life, it becomes too easy to wallow or whine. So here are my gratitudes for today.
- I am grateful for my tribe; my virtual team and the friends who are sharing this journey with me.
- I am grateful for the groups I’ve found where people share their wins and losses, and help each other celebrate the former, overcome the latter, grow, and thrive.
- I am grateful for the Facebook Lives I’ve been doing which provide me with an almost endless source of material for my blog posts
- I am grateful for the many lessons I’ve learned including the latest; to embrace the crazy, messy, convolutedness that makes me, me.
- I am grateful for abundance: friendship, lessons, tribes, support, encouragement, love, laughter, progress, inspiration, opportunities, self-love, recognition, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
You can find the associated Facebook Live here.
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.