Have you ever tried going through your day or week without prioritizing? It can be chaotic, especially if you’re an entrepreneur who is juggling lots of different things at once. When you assign each task equal importance, everything feels urgent. You can’t possibly complete every task, so you fall behind, and your list gets even longer. Meanwhile, the things that really need to get done aren’t getting star billing on your list. Not even close. They’re somewhere down there, but by the time you get to them, if you get to them, you’re ready to call it a day. The cycle of anxiety and chaos starts all over again before your head even hits the pillow.
Imagine for a moment that you’re a budding entrepreneur. You have an idea you’re passionate about and you’ve decided to leave your job to pursue it full-time. As you dream about your new professional life, do you stop to consider your lifestyle? Do you have a vision for how you want to enjoy your time outside of work? Or are you resigned to the fact that your new venture will take all of your time, and then some?
Flashback to 2014, a very cold winter in NYC. I’m excited to have just launched my own business, and am working out of my apartment. After almost a decade in traditional settings, it’s blissfully calm and quiet as I take client calls, craft strategy, and write emails. Actually, it’s too quiet, which means that my inner critic is working overtime as I try to make decisions. Is anyone going to read this blog post? Will anyone respond to this email blast? Am I making the right move here? Is anyone going to hire me?
Here’s something you may not hear from other coaches: I’m not for everyone.
I might curse during a session. I will definitely be direct and straightforward. Whether you’re a client, a friend (or both), or a family member, it’s in my DNA to tell it like it is. I don’t sidestep the tough issues or try to hide what I’m thinking. I always say what needs to be said. It’s part of who I am, both as a professional and a person, but it’s also how I believe I can best help my clients.
For clients, one of the most motivating parts of our coaching sessions is the fact that they’re held accountable and supported each week. From the “homework” assignments that they complete between each session to our brainstorms about their business goals and hurdles, coaching helps clients move forward in their business and their life. As a coach, I’m there to hold them accountable to their own short-term and long-term goals while also acting as a support system. Many of my clients are independent professionals who work solo. They don’t have co-founders or employees or partners; it’s just them. When they’re getting their small business off the ground or working to grow it, I’m there to be a sounding board who can listen, talk through ideas, and provide suggestions about how to tackle and troubleshoot problems.
Lots of people assume that entrepreneurship is a lonely journey. You work long hours with only your email inbox for company, and rely on yourself and no one else when making big business decisions. Not only is entrepreneurship a challenge, it’s something you navigate alone. Right?
In my experience, it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to make every decision alone. You don’t have to be an expert in everything. You don’t have to isolate yourself day in and day out. You may be running the show, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find people to support you.
When you first launch your business and establish your role within its structure, you have a lot of options. In fact, for new entrepreneurs, it can feel overwhelming. How do you decide how to structure your business when you could take it in so many directions? How do you determine what type of business model is going to be compatible with you and your work style? If you have never thought about it, you might not even know what your work style is. This is where your experience at your previous jobs comes in. Even though you’ve moved away from more traditional roles, you can use the experiences you gained as intelligence for developing your personal work style and building a compatible business structure. Whether you loved your previous jobs or couldn’t leave them fast enough, digging into what aspects you liked and didn’t like can bring valuable insight to your new entrepreneurial role and help you shape it.
I talk a lot about making the leap to entrepreneurship. Most of my clients are people who are doing exactly this, and as an entrepreneur myself, I live and work the lifestyle. Three years after launching my business, I can’t imagine life any other way. I love helping my clients discover work that lights them up, and I love working and living on my own terms.
When you’re launching a small business, it’s fairly common to end up with a to-do list that feels like it’s a mile long. And at the beginning, the excitement and adrenaline of building something new can keep you working overtime. In some cases, you might not even realize that your work is slowly taking over—ever looked up from answering emails to see that hours have gone by?