The other day I was reflecting on how setting up my own business has meant so much more to me than working from home and earning money. It’s been a journey, remains a journey and will always be a journey of self development.
In facing the challenges of working for myself, I’ve discovered so many things about myself that I never would have otherwise. I always knew I was a determined person but I didn’t realize quite how much. Earlier in life my main focus was to travel and see the world – preferably as a sole backpacker. I was determined to do this and worked and saved to achieve that goal.
It was relatively easy compared to setting up a business, because I didn’t have to face THAT many fears when traveling the world, aside from the usual ones of safety and being lonely as a woman traveling on her own.
I was also determined to go to university and get a degree. I didn’t let anything stop me from doing that either. Of course, there were the usual fears involved with going to college – for example, would I be up to it?
In contrast to earlier challenges, I would have to say that setting up my business has lead to the most personal growth. I’ve had to face many deep fears.
One was the fear of public speaking. I knew that one of the best ways to get business would be to go to local business networking groups. Unfortunately I soon realized that many of them required some kind of public speaking, in the form of making presentations about your business. Of course, going to networking meetings is not the only to get business, there are many other marketing tactics that don’t involve public speaking, so I could have avoided this completely.
However I felt that I needed to finally tackle the fear head-on though, in order to grow. I joined Toastmasters, the public speaking organization with clubs all over the world, and learnt to leverage my fear of public speaking, to actually use the nervousness (in other words adrenaline surge) in a positive way, to make my speeches exciting and motivating… and would you believe it? I actually learned to enjoy public speaking!
Tying into my fear of public speaking, I’d also previously been quite shy in general. In my school days, the teachers used to say ‘Lisa is very shy and quiet, isn’t she? One minute she’ll be sitting there saying nothing, and the next minute she’ll be in fits of laughter, giggling at things we can only guess at!’ I learnt to overcome this by going along to networking events on my own, where I knew I would be walking into a room full of strangers.
The only way around this was to just do it. If I’d have spent too long pondering about walking into a room without knowing anyone, and wonder what I was going to do next if no-one talked to me, I wouldn’t have gone. So I went, with that underlying feeling of fear and a heart that was pounding just that little bit too fast for comfort.
Now I can happily go along to events such as these on my own, without expecting to know anyone, and be confident that I can strike up a conversation easily!
Fear of rejection was another issue to overcome. Most people can identify with fear of rejection. It takes guts to put yourself out there and offer your skills and services as a business. What if no-one’s interested? What if I don’t get any clients? But people ARE interested and I do get clients.
Yes, there’s no doubt about it. Setting up my own business is the best thing I EVER did, as it’s pushed and continues to push me way out of my comfort zone in ways that I could never have imagined!
Is this how you feel about running your own business? How has it allowed, even forced you to grow and become the person you’ve always wanted to be?