I have always wanted to own my own business; this has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember! And, to be honest, I never really pondered ‘what if’s’ so I didn’t even know what product or service I wanted to sell as part of my business dream. All I knew is that, I would be a business owner, live a life of balance and be passionate about whatever I do... Just ‘Go Do It’!
I worked for a number of years in change and project management, this was a very fulfilling role for me but it wasn’t mine, I didn’t work for Debbie in something I wanted to do! I specialised in a methodology called ‘Lean Systems Thinking’; it put customer value at the heart and encourages a holistic overview. I loved it! At this point in my life, I was yet to come across any other approach which even compared to this, it was new, exciting and a breath of fresh air. It ignited a passion within me and I realised that I wanted to work with people.
Not long after, I signed up for a Coaching Academy course. It was just another day, just another string to my bow, I thought. But, I was very wrong! I left the course feeling invigorated and on a mission- I had found my second passion, coaching and I then decided that I wanted to place both of my passions together in a business of my own. A little while after my course I came across a quote, one that has stuck with me every since and I use on my business card today “to improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often”. Both of my passions require looking at the holistic picture, gaining knowledge about the current reality before generating creative ideas and solutions and then moving individuals or teams from the present to where they need to be to improve their performance.
The early days of business were busy, I anticipated a 50/50 split, between consultancy and coaching although the rules went out the window and I said yes to all projects and consultancy that came my way. Travelling up and down the country and not returning for days, I would get home; shower, eat, sleep and go again! I learnt from this first attempt, I never saw it and still don’t see it as a failure. As long as you can make improvements from the experience and prevent it from happening again, it’s not a failure!
It took me some time, but I eventually managed to find my own work-life balance. I created rules and stuck to them. Five years on, consultancy still formed the bread and butter of my income. Whilst I was able to utilise many of my skills from coaching to NLP and I loved working with people, it niggled at me in the back of my mind that coaching had still not formed the dominant part of my business. It was the missing piece of the puzzle. At the beginning of 2016 I managed to secure a major coaching contract with a corporate client, I thought this was the turning point for my business. I designed the learning and development approach and built in coaching and facilitation- it was perfect! The exact work I had been looking for! Three weeks into the programme, the project manager moved on and I was asked to take over (they already knew my skill set), whilst I could have declined the offer, a lesson to be learnt here! I did, in fact, say yes.
At this point of my business, I had consciously decided to decline all consultancy contracts and would only be marketing and securing coaching interventions with teams and businesses. This was a huge change, I’d already built up a network of great contacts and I was fortunate enough that I no longer needed to look for work, people knew when I was coming available and I’d managed to choose a lifestyle that suited me, working three or four days a week. The niggling doubt in my mind meant that I’d shift my business model, which was working just fine so that I could secure new and different clients in my portfolio. This whole aspect was completely new to me, a different level of sales and marketing. But, I gave myself permission from January 2017 to earn nothing for four to six months whilst I concentrated on a new strategy. If I cracked the new strategy it would mean that in the future I’d have a more sustainable business model for myself and my family, it made sense! But then, came Preggie Debbie. The news was wonderful, but I’d be lying if she wasn’t testing my decisions and my patience at times! In the back of my mind, much like the niggle for a change to my business model, there sat the other Debbie asking;
“Have I made the wrong choice?”
“If you stuck to consultancy these last few months, you would be better off financially. It not too late to change your mind”
“What if no one wants to secure a 12-month coaching programme with you when you’re visibly pregnant!”
“What’s going to happen when you reapply for a mortgage, your business income needs to remain stable?”
Not only was Preggie Debbie beginning to get on my nerves, but also I had never had strong negative conversations going on in my head before. I applied my rules and handled Preggie Debbie the logical way…
- Keep a positive mindset - take that Preggie Debbie.
- I don’t do ‘what if’s’; jump in… it will be fine!
- I’m listening negative Preggie Debbie, but I don’t agree and construct the argument.
- Most importantly the last rule, believe in the return argument - wholeheartedly!
So, for those who want to know what the conversation is like between me and Preggie Debbie, it goes something like this:
“Have I made the wrong choice?” – “No! Stop thinking if’s and but’s, it’s a logical plan and it will work out fine!”
“If you stuck to consultancy these last few months, you would be better off financially!” – “perhaps Preggie Debbie but I’m doing this for the future. My strategy is solid and this will give me and my family a sustainable business.”
“What if no- one wants to secure a 12-month coaching programme with you when you're visibly pregnant!” – “That might happen, but they’ll be others! And in any case, they can book on to work with me in the future”
“What’s going to happen when you reapply for a mortgage, you need a stable income!” – “True and thanks Preggie Debbie for reminding me, but I’ll be fine. People will work with me and I will have a stable income to show.”
I’d love to hear from you! Are you struggling with your negative inner voice? Get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on social media- Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. With a logical plan in place, we can all overcome the negative thoughts and get back to positive thinking!