It’s March 2018, and I’ve just finished my third book of the year. My ambitions at the start of the year of ‘read one book a week’, have since been revised to ‘just one a month will be fine’. There would’ve been a time when the internal conversation would’ve been more along the lines of “for goodness sake, why can’t you stick to ANYTHING you say you’re going to do, please?” (more on that later).
The first book I read this year was My Biz My Way by Judith Morgan and I’m so pleased I did. It’s really had an impact. Have you read it? If not, and you’re a small biz entrepreneur, oh you must. It’s brilliant. You know those rare moments when someone gives you some home truths? Yet, instead of feeling defensive, disillusioned, or like you’re a total failure, it all goes very quiet and the world seems to stop for a moment and this teeny tiny voice from inside speaks up and says “my goodness, she’s right you know.”
That happened to me after reading Question 5 in the book, which then promptly signposted me to Q33. “At our level, there’s no money in ideas, the money’s in the implementation of your idea.” Oh Lordy, that was the moment!
You see, there was a time not so long ago when I was having ‘Ideas Sex’ as Judith calls it. Notebooks full of them. Beautiful, brilliant, inspiring, engaging ideas for a business. The cycle went something like this:
Have amazing idea. Start idea. Have an EVEN better idea. Abandon idea No.1. Start idea No.2. Have off the charts idea that is better than 1 and 2 combined. Start idea No.3. Repeat cycle.
And so the cycle continues. Isn’t that exhausting? No, not really because an incredible amount of energy comes from generating new ideas. If you resonate with this, you’ll know what I mean. Frustrating? Very. Because as Judith says, there is absolutely no money in ideas. Not at our level, anyway.
Anyway, I’ve stopped that lark now, thank goodness. Unfortunately not in a “stop it immediately’ kind of way, but it’s calmed right down. The reason I know that is because, on 1st March 2018, my business Happy Healthy Entrepreneur turned one year old. This is quite a milestone for me, and I feel proud every time I think about it. Even though I’ve been self-employed since 2009, (with time off for learning how to be a new parent in between), this past year is the first time I’ve felt like a ‘proper’ grown-up business owner.
With that, has come learning to run my business, exactly how I please, and in a way that works for me, and my family.
I think for all of us, there comes a time when we stop being a clone of everyone else and start to listen to our own voice. That’s certainly what I’ve been doing for the past twelve months. There is a voice of intuition and wisdom, that speaks to us and the more we listen to it, the more it shows up. Mine shows up after a good nights sleep, walking in nature, driving, or even doing the ironing (which is a good motivator to do it in the first place!).
I call it Clarity. What I love about Clarity is that she has a healthy disrespect for the word ‘should’.
Clarity told me to launch a podcast four months into my business, whereas ‘Should’ would say “ooh, too soon.” Turns out it was a brilliant move and has been incredibly well received, and has connected me to some fabulous people along the way who I am now really delighted to call my business buddies.
Imagine what we could achieve in our businesses if we gave Should an indefinite sabbatical, and instead hired the services of Clarity on more of a full-time basis?
That’s what I intend to keep doing as I move through the next 12 months. Clarity has currently got me immersed in creating my very first online programme. Of course, Little Miss Should would probably say “no, no you have to keep up with the 1:1 work for at least another couple of years before you’ve earned the right to start creating online courses” but of course I will never know, because she’s currently off enjoying a well-earned sabbatical, somewhere really lovely I hope.
And it’s because of that, acting mostly out of intuition when it comes to next steps to take in my business, that I have the approach of ‘everything is an experiment’. I don’t know exactly how something is going to turn out, all I ever do is try to discern between that voice of intuition and just, well plain old noise. If it brings me joy and delights me, I’m in. If it stresses me out too much or puts me on the road to burnout, I’m out. I believe in having a business that creates a healthy profit (I’ve got enough hobbies already), but not at any cost; health, family, enjoyment of life – those things are important to me, and I feel protective of that, and so my work has to be joyful too. Isn’t that why we become self-employed?
Happy Healthy Entrepreneur does feel joyful to me, as a business. After a long time searching, I do feel instinctively that I’ve found my thing. I think that helps. When the idea of doing this work well past retirement age, feels like a really nice concept, it means I’m in no rush. I can embrace the tortoise in me, and take my time – little bits of action each and every day, and take in all the beautiful scenery along the way.
This blog post was written (with pleasure) as part of Judith Morgan’s Blogfest to support the launch of her book Your Biz Your Way.
Sarah Swanton is a Podcaster and the founder of Happy Healthy Entrepreneur, where she supports entrepreneurs with their mental health and wellbeing, so they can enjoy the self-employment journey and have a business that supports them, not exhausts them!