The year 2018 was a big growth year for me. I am closing in on my 2nd year in business, and it required a completely different level of leadership and business management than year one. At some point in the year, I decided I was no longer going to play small. It was time to step into my big girl panties and position myself for growth – emotionally, mentally, and financially.
When we make a decision like this for our business, it requires us to make radical and scary changes. These changes often throw us into a sea of unknowns, swimming in our own fear and self-doubt. Sometimes we think we are drowning, but unless we give up, we will make it to the shore. Not only will we find ourselves on solid ground, we often rise above and become stronger than we were before. That is what happened to me this year.
The changes I made may seem inconsequential to some, but for me, they were important steps on my entrepreneurial journey. I recently read that owning our own business is one of the biggest personal growth journeys we will ever be on – besides parenting, of course. If you are on this journey with me, I thought sharing my big steps might encourage or inspire you. Perhaps you need to recognize and celebrate your own successes or step out with courage and faith in the areas your soul is calling you to grow.
Big Girl Step #1 – I gained clarity on my business vision and company business model.
This step might appear to be a no-brainer, but I’ve worked with enough clients and other small business owners to know this is actually not as easy as it may seem. It’s tempting, in our early years, to go where the money is. We let our clients dictate our business vision and business model. The danger with doing this is one day we may wake up and realize our business is not what we want. We start looking for the passion we once had. Stress takes over because our business no longer aligns with our values. For me, getting clear on who I wanted to work with, what I wanted to do, and how I would get it done was a monumental step. Now, in 2019, I can spend my time structuring my business, making decisions, and growing into the business model I envision.
Big Girl Step #2 – I hired a team.
I got tired of going solo. I embraced the fact that I didn’t want to do all the work by myself. I hit a plateau and could no longer grow past it without a team. My biggest fear with making this decision was whether or not I could find someone who cared as much as I do. Providing amazing service and delivering quality work to my clients is how I built my reputation. What if people I hired didn’t value the same thing as me? For months, I dragged my feet and continued to endure the stress of too much work. Then one day, I just said “Screw it! I’m just gonna do it.” I hired my first virtual assistant. I dipped my toe in the water to see how it felt. Then I just jumped in. Today I have a team of three virtual assistants. I am learning to lead a team, capitalize on their strengths, keep them engaged, and hopefully grow them into a rock star A-team!
Big Girl Step #3 – I charged what I am worth.
This was the scariest step of them all. First, I had to own the fact that I was more valuable than what I was charging. Coming face to face with our own self-worth and attaching a price tag to that brings up all sorts of mindset issues. We have to confront not only our own money issues but the money issues that arise from clients. Money is loaded – there can be so much hidden junk attached to money. It takes a lot of courage to fully own your badassery and feel confident about charging what you’re worth. Then you need to be able to communicate that worth to your current and prospective clients in a way that brings value to them. With my first money conversation, it was a little messy. It didn’t feel good and I fumbled my way through. After much practice, it got easier and I felt more empowered. Today, I confidently charge what I am worth and I don’t feel guilty about it.
Big Girl Step #4 – I learned to lighten up on my perfectionism.
When it was just me, and I made a mistake, I didn’t even feel bad about beating myself up for making a mistake. Then my virtual assistant made her first mistake. The world felt like it was coming to an end. But I knew I couldn’t treat my VA the way I treated myself. That is when I learned to approach mistakes in a different way – with compassion and curiosity. One of my mentors taught me a good reminder about mistakes. “Did any small children get hurt?” That question put things into perspective for me. The answer is always no. So instead of running around like Chicken Little yelling, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling,” I take a deep breath. Next, I look at what created the mistake and ask if anything with our process needs to be adjusted. Asking ourselves how we can grow to create a different result the next time is key to lightening up. Business mistakes will happen. It’s how we respond that determines our success and growth.
Big Girl Step #5 – I invested substantially in myself and my business.
In year one, I was extremely conservative with money. As a two-time entrepreneur, I wanted to learn from my mistakes in my first business and manage money better. But this year, I made two big investments in myself and my business. It’s not that I didn’t have the money, but I preferred to hang tight to the money I had. Once again, these investments were not only large financial ones but necessary for me to step into the next level of my business. Any time we need to make a big investment, it’s often associated with risk. Sometimes the risk pays off and other times it doesn’t. One of my investments didn’t generate a return, but the other one had huge benefits. I paid big dollars for an intensive training and certification program for online business managers. Although it’s yet to be seen whether an OBM certification will increase my income, the confidence and knowledge I have gained have been well worth the investment.
Big Girl Step #6 – I stepped full swing into a leadership role.
It’s one thing to be a virtual assistant and do what your clients ask you to do. It’s a completely different ballgame to be an online business manager responsible for the day-to-day operations, marketing, client care, and financials for a client’s business. Expertise at this level demands leadership. It’s been a work in progress for me, but I now speak up and voice my concerns, set boundaries when it’s appropriate, and make decisions without approval. I have tough conversations even when my people pleaser and peacemaker is screaming at me to avoid it. I step out and connect with my virtual team – it takes more effort than leading a team in person. Investing in my leadership development has helped me stretch and become a better leader of myself, my clients, and my business.
Big Girl Step #7 – I am taking control of my mind.
For years, I resisted meditation. I am still resisting meditation. I am fidgety. I struggle to sit still. I am full of energy and my mind is always engaged in full-out thinking until I fall asleep. The thought of sitting my butt down for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or 30 minutes and doing absolutely nothing, but breathing and focusing on letting go of thoughts, was just downright impossible to me. In stepped a new client whose work is dedicated to meditation and mindfulness. This instilled a curiosity in me and I began asking a dear friend a lot of questions about her practice. Then I spent a few days in Yosemite with a couple of friends who meditated every morning and every night. People who meditated were all around me, and meditation became more of a challenge for me. If they can do it, I can too, right? So I asked my accountability partner (who also meditates) to hold me accountable to my goal of 20 minutes of meditation per day. Although it hasn’t been perfect, I am doing it. And I am beginning to like it and feel the benefits. My mind is more relaxed. I am more at peace within myself. I roll with the ups and downs of life, instead of worrying about things I can’t control. Could this meditation thing really work? I am committed to finding out.
Without a doubt, 2019 will bring even more big steps for me. I am ready to embrace a New Year filled with new possibilities. How about you? What big steps did you take this year to step into your power? Take some time to reflect and celebrate your big girl/boy amazingness! Lori Young is the founder and Chief OBM for Amazing OBM, and online business management company serving coaches and therapists.
How I Stepped Into my Big Girl Power this Year
December 13, 2018