Happy Monday, friends! If you’ve ever struggled to be yourself in your business, this post is for you. My friend, Katie Harp, from Rebelsaurus has some super helpful tips to share with you on how being yourself will change the way you do business, so keep reading!
This wasn’t the first business I’d started.
No, I’d started twenty-something different ventures, a lot of which failed, some of which made a little money, and none of which really felt like The One. You know, that business that is so you that you practically fall in love with it? I wanted to find Mr. Right for my business, but most of the time I was just worried about doing something that would make enough money or that other people would approve of.
Takeaway: The only person’s approval you need for following your dreams is your own. Don’t let other people’s opinions drown out your own intuition. And for the love of all things holy, do things for the love!
So when I started a business this year on Valentine’s Day, of all days, I knew it had to be something I loved. I tried on many different hats. I’m passionate about a lot of things, so it wasn’t easy to stick to just one topic. I started as a magazine about being different and breaking the status quo. I bounced around between the magazine idea, developing an app, creating a membership model, teaching a class about being a rebel (I’m still not sure exactly what I’d be teaching :)), doing some kind of branding, and talking about minimalism and vegetarianism, even though – despite my best intentions – my closet is still packed and I can occasionally be caught eating chicken wings.
But something just felt terribly off. I felt like I was constantly trying to cover my tracks and look like the perfect writer or developer or lifestyle “expert” and present a certain image to the world. I was getting tired trying to reinvent myself constantly and embody a new niche and persona every other day, and I didn’t even know what I wanted anymore.
So I stopped.
I was exhausted from working eighty hours a week on this business and going absolutely nowhere, so I took a couple days off to recuperate and figure out what I actually wanted for my life. I sat around, I did some inner work, I meditated. And then I realized something. I was exhausted because I was trying so hard to be what I thought other people wanted me to be. I had lost myself in the process, and I was no longer doing what I was passionate about. The one thing I love more than anything, entrepreneurship, had become my own worst enemy instead of my outlet for creative expression.
Takeaway: If things aren’t working, take a break. Sometimes you’re just burned out, and taking a breather will give you the space you need to see the situation in a new light.
So I went back to the basics.
What did I know to be true? Well, I loved starting businesses. I loved working online. I loved being creative. I loved branding and web design. In fact, I’d redesigned my website at least ten times in the last couple months. But those were just things I took for granted. They were too easy. Surely starting a business couldn’t be that easy; I had to find something harder. Work wasn’t supposed to be fun.
But then I realized what I was doing to myself.
I realized that all along, I should have been doing what I loved. Why couldn’t I make a business out of branding and web design and online entrepreneurship and combine all of my passions? It would have been so much easier if I had just stopped pretending to be someone else and decided to be myself.
So I did.
Takeaway: Be yourself. Sometimes the answers are so close to you that you can’t see them. What do you take for granted in your life?
But I had a few commitments from my “old” business to attend to. I had a public launch date all set for my rebel-minimalist-vegetarian-business-magazine-app-membership-club, and I was busy creating content and putting together submissions. But I knew something was wrong. I could feel my intuition practically screaming at me.
So for the first time in a long time, I listened to my intuition. I scrapped my plans, and that’s when I took a few days off and refigured everything about my business. When I realized that what I really wanted to do was create a branding and web design business that was so oozing with me that it was practically dripping rainbows and cat pictures through the computer screen, I finally felt at peace. The confusion and overwhelming sense of WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE? was replaced with I WANT TO WORK ON THIS FOR HOURS! And everything became so much easier.
Takeaway: Nothing will give you the peace of mind that being true to yourself will.
I redesigned my website from top to bottom, rewrote every single scrap of copy, and completely dismantled my social media accounts. I rebuilt the entire business in under three days, and when I was done, everything felt right.
With my old business, I had gone three months trying to figure things out and not generating any revenue because I couldn’t stick to one idea and none of them felt intuitively right. This time, I launched one on one design services and a website course and hustled like crazy. I was so afraid that I wouldn’t sell anything and yet another business would fail.
But within two weeks, I had a wait list for my design services and had filled my class to capacity. I knew I was onto something.
Takeaway: You’ll always be rewarded for being authentically you. People can smell your intentions from a mile away, so proudly do what you love.
If your business isn’t working, maybe you aren’t being true to yourself. Are you really doing exactly what you want to be doing? Is this your dream business, or are you just coming up with something to pay the bills while your real idea waits in the wings?
The time to build the business of your dreams is now. If you’re like I was and think that business has to be really hard and it has to feel like you’re at an awful 9-5 job because technically you are “working,” reconsider things. What do you really want to create? What is your real dream? Not the sensible one or the one that will make you a decent income or a watered down version of yourself. No.
What is the truest dream you hold inside yourself, the one that’s begging to be realized? What would you do if you stopped caring about what other people think, or what you’re supposed to be doing, and decided to really, truly, be yourself?
Always, always, choose to be yourself.
[photo credit: tuscanss]
Katie Harp is an entrepreneur and web designer out to teach rebellious women about technology and how to make websites. She helps female entrepreneurs set up the technology they need to run their businesses and build and design a website as unique as they are. She teaches a website bootcamp and offers a free One Hour Website guide, available at her website Rebelsaurus, for business owners who want to quickly get their website up.