I have spent several years of my professional life running international networks/NGOs. So, I am used to thinking about strategy, annual plans, budgets, and all that comes along with it.
As I decided to register my own business just a couple of months ago (well, almost 3 now), one of the first things I did was to look at my Financial Plan, consider some branding, set up a website and create an actual email address. I am good with numbers and also felt comfortable with most of the other (low tech) things. As we all do, I left the hard work for later...
I got myself busy doing as much as possible to delay working on the crucial but dreaded Business Plan, or better, the marketing section that any business plan includes: identifying your target market(s), clarifying your product's features and how you are going to sell it. The last point was the central issue to all my worries. You cannot be a successful entrepreneur if you cannot ultimately sell whatever you are 'producing'!
Rationally, that is as clear as water. But emotionally there was a whole other battle to fight. I and my own services had never been the 'product' I had to sell before. I am a reasonable speaker and quite comfortable talking about the importance and benefits of many of the causes and activities for which I have worked before. But, for the first time, I had to be my own advocate; and that thought simply froze me. I went through several articles, posts and online videos on related topics, but these are useless until you have the courage to actually start looking inward... What was resonating with me? I had to search through my own mindset and limiting beliefs to try and find out which ones were taking center stage in this fight and sabotaging my success.
I know I have the potential to be a great coach (pardon my lack of modesty but I actually believe that :) ). But this represents a new career path for me. For the first time ever, I have no title, credential, employer, experience, testimonies or other aspect to back up my claim. In essence, it means that - like most of us - I am used to having an external party recognising my sense of (professional) worth. And I allowed that to affect the way I was behaving (=avoidance) when I thought about my marketing strategy. Impostor syndrome.
This past week, pressed by the need to have a Business Plan to apply for a grant, I finally did it. And you know what? I finished it in less than a day (well, I already had a lot drafted in there). Still, I decided to talk to a few coaches with whom I would like to partner to work on all these issues. Even though I did not ask for help right away (probably due to some socially inflated sense of pride and 'I can do it' mentally), I certainly want it. This is the difference between recognising your own abilities ("Yes, I am smart enough") and building on them with the support of somebody else who can act as a sounding board and sort through all our mind chatter to deliver effective results much faster. It took me almost 3 months to deal with this; it would have probably taken 2-3 sessions if I already had my own coach! Life lesson: asking for support can deliver much better results than adhering too close to some false sense of pride or ego.
Next challenge: to draft my customer journeys...
I am surely learning a LOT from this journey! I am still a bit afraid, but every time I overcome an obstacle I get even more excited. And now I will not be doing it by myself. I mean: I am still the owner and the person responsible for coming up with the solutions that fit me, but I will have a 'partner' to guide me, call me up on my crazy self-doubting, and challenge my limiting beliefs. How exciting is this? :D
I am so looking forward to helping others in a similar way...!! I want you to also have you 'Aha moments' and make it as easy and simple as possible for you to reach any goal or overcome any challenge. What a fascinating journey lies ahead...
(First published: 26 November 2018)