Setting Up My Own Business – What A Journey It’s Been!

By February 18, 2008 Motivation 10 Comments

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?


  • Mary H. Ruth says:

    Lisa – Thanks for this. I attended a networking event last night in the interest of sellling my VA services, and had a hard time. But today, I realized I would go again, to the next one, and just get better at this or bust in the attempt!

  • Lisa Taliga says:

    This is exactly how it was for me, Mary. You’ll get better at this and be proud of yourself for trying in the first place too. Also, don’t think of it as ‘selling’ – think of it as helping others – which you are doing by providing your Virtual Assistant services! This will change your perception of going to networking events and marketing yourself in general.

  • Renee says:

    Hi Lisa,
    I totally agree about the fears part. I am in the process of starting my business and I’m really nervous about it. I know I have what it takes but actually getting started and will the clients come is whats holding me back. I really want to get this venture started. I think you have some great suggestions to help with that.
    Thanks alot. Great work!

  • Lisa Taliga says:

    Thanks Renee. I like to write about this because it’s normal to feel these fears. It’s just a sign that you’re leaving your comfort zone. No-one has ever become successful without leaving their comfort zone and stretching themselves somehow!

  • Thank you, Lisa, for sharing this about yourself. I, too, am in the process of starting my VA business. I was just telling my fiance that I think the scariest part of all of this is the networking and marketing. I have the very same fears as you do, and these fears have held me back from pursuing other ventures in the past. I’m glad that you mentioned Toastmasters because I was considering joining a chapter as well. It is very comforting to know that there are others who have felt the same way as I have. Thanks again!

  • Delita says:


    I couldn’t have said this better myself. It is a journey, but of what a wonderful journey it is. During my journey, I have faced and continue to face lots of fears, but i look past all of it and keep my eye on my goal.

  • Amy says:

    I totally agree with all that you said, especially the fear of public speaking and going to the networking events. Here is one thing that really helps me. Now that I am working for myself, there is no one to reward me for my accomplishments, but ME! When just starting out, I made small goals for myself, as small as making one cold call a day, dropping in on a business in town just to introduce myself, or going to the networking event I was terrified to go to. When I snag a client with one of these goals, I reward myself. I always have my next reward hanging on my refrigerator. Dinner at a restaurant I only frequent on special occasions, a picture of a piece of jewelry I would like, a leather coat, etc. It really helps, and I deserve it.

  • Lisa Taliga says:

    @ Ellen, yes I like to share things like this so that people realise that I’m a real person, with the same fears as everyone else, yet I’ve still made a success of it. And Toastmasters will give you so much more than just public speaking skills. The confidence you gain will enhance all facets of your life!

    @ Amy – great idea! I’m just drawing up a list for myself based on your idea. Hmm, dinner at a fabulous restaurant sounds perfect to me. Oh, and a deep tissue massage wouldn’t go amiss either… the refrigerator’s looking pretty busy now :)

    @ Delita – that’s the way. Enjoy the journey, keeping your unwavering eye on the main goal!

  • Deb Frawley says:

    Its nice to know I’m not the only one out there nervous about public speaking and attending network meetings. I have yet to go to one, but know that as you say Lisa, its a terrific marketing tool.

    I joined which lets you search for local groups and then join them. I’m going to get out of my comfort zone and get myself to one of those meetings! And of course I’ll be a nervous wreck!

  • Lisa Taliga says:

    @ Deb – When you feel nervous it’s very common to also feel that you’re the only one who feels like this. It can be a lonely feeling, the brave new business owner taking their first tentative steps into the big wide world, marketing themselves and hoping no-one notices the nerves. But it’s very comforting to know that pretty much everyone feels this way. And we’re not just talking about people becoming Virtual Assistants, we’re talking about ANY new business owner.

    I’ll bet most of the clients you get also felt nervous about putting themselves out there! I was talking to a client of mine the other day (a consultant) who confessed to shaking in his boots the first time he went along to a networking event. Nerves are NOT a sign that things are going to ‘go wrong’. It’s a sign that you’re anxious to do well and that you’re moving out of your comfort zone. Both are great things … and necessary for success! Go for it, you’ll do well, I’m sure.

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