Today, I celebrate my 21st anniversary of being an entrepreneur.
It was 21 years ago today that I was “downsized” from my last job and when I made the decision that I would never work for someone else again.
Best. Decision. Ever.
In reflection, I thought I’d share 10 random thoughts about the last 21 years of working for myself with you. Some are hard-won lessons, some are advice from my experience. All of it has been worth every moment.
1. Even when times are tough, being your own boss is still better than working for someone else.
As every entrepreneur knows, there are mountains and valleys in growing and sustaining a successful business, none of which I could have navigated without my husband’s ongoing support. And although I’ve always been able to stand on my own two feet (thanks to my parents instilling that in me), my journey has been made easier with my inner circle cheering me on from the sidelines. Even in the toughest moments of being in business for myself, the alternative – getting another job – has never been an option. And when it’s simply not an option, you figure out how to move forward (yes, sometimes after the breakdown ;-)).
2. Doing it my way is the only “right” way.
I’m a big believer in not reinventing the wheel, to model success, that, in fact, there are no new ideas, just new ways of presenting them. That said, while I take the lessons and suggestions of others who are further on the path than I am, I’ve never blindly followed anyone’s advice. I’ve always listened to my gut and have done things that have felt right and good to me, regardless what others think or do. It’s never mattered to me if other people didn’t understand. It only mattered that I knew what was the right next step for me.
3. It’s not about the money, it’s about what matters.
I’ve made over $2 million in sales in the last 21 years – and yes, I know that there are others who make that in a year (or even in a single launch), but I’ve never missed a moment of what matters to me. I’ve lived my life, for myself and with my family, for 21 years. I’ve been present for all of it – the little things and the major life shifts and everything in between. No amount of money replaces the time I’ve had with who and what I love the most.
4. Publishing my book was a huge accomplishment.
Writing the first draft of the book took me 3 weeks. Then it took me 7 years to actually publish it. Figuring out what took me so long to do that was an inner journey I had to take that has served me well since, even if the work itself was very hard to do. They say that being an entrepreneur is the best personal development ride you could ever take – and it’s true.
5. I know like I know like I know what my zone of joy is.
I’ve led everything from teleseminars (remember those?), webinars, group programs, online courses, virtual workshops, private retreats, private coaching programs, challenges, to 8 3-day live events, and I’ve loved them all for different reasons. And now I have the experience, the wisdom and the clarity of knowing exactly where my zone of joy is. Actually, I’ve always know – I’ve just decided to return to it fully.
6. Always have a mentor and peer support, even if you can’t ‘afford’ team support yet.
I’ve had a mentor since I was 13 years old. In the first year of my business, I learned from Thomas Leonard and Coachville. In year 2, I hired my first business coach, and I’ve worked with someone, either privately or in a group, ever since. I believe that skin in the game changes the game, and I’ve gotten every cent I’ve invested into working with the business coach back in spades.
7. Self-Care is #1.
This one really took some time to sink in. When I started my business, we didn’t have kids yet and I had loads of time to take care of myself (not that I did a great job of it then, honestly). Once Chloe and then Jack came along, everything shifted and I sucked at taking care of myself – for YEARS. When my physical health started breaking down, I finally got my act together and have become vocal with my members and clients that you need to take care of yourself so your business can take care of you.
8. Stand strong in your priorities.
Or said another way, create boundaries and honor them. Whether that’s about protecting your work time, your refund policies, the type of client you’ll work with or something else, when you honor what matters to you most, you’ll find holding your boundaries to be much easier and serve you better.
9. Gratitude and generosity go far.
Even in the darkest times, there’s always something that I’m grateful for to write about in my journal every day. I also say thank you out loud every single day – for my health, for my family’s health, and for keeping us safe and happy. I also try to be generous with my skills and knowledge, whether that’s personally or professionally. I believe there’s always more than enough for all, so there’s no reason to hold back or be threatened by others. I’m so grateful that I get to do what I do and that wouldn’t be possible without being able to be online all these years. I refuse to squander that by comparing myself to others and instead focus on helping thousands more to create and grow their own successful business.
10. Don’t try to be/do “all the things” – just be/do YOU.
In a way, this last one sums up all the others. I’ve created and grown my own business in the way that serves me best first, so I can show up as my best for my students. And frankly, if I can’t do it in a way that brings me joy (most of the time ;-)), then why do it?