As I began writing, I realized rather quickly a lot can change in one year! So without further ado here are my 6 key takeaways from an interesting 2013!
In 2012 I had a life altering epiphany – to do better I needed to feel better. What started off as a journey of clearing my head and identifying my future path as an entrepreneur, turned into a fitness and health kick. Since I started that goal I lost 10 dress sizes, yes from a 12-2 and lost over 42 lbs. What I found happening is once I surpassed my goal I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. What needed to happen was I needed to up the ante! So rather than becoming complacent I decided to train for my first half marathon. In November 2014 I ran my first half marathon in Disney with a great friend of mine, Virginia. Neither of us were runners nor did we know what we are doing in many respects, but we learned as we went. The goal and completion of running my first half marathon has kept me feeling anything but stagnant!
This same principle applies in your business. If you feel yourself getting complacent with what is going on around you, change it up and up the ante. I navigate my life in a constant state of learning and growing, so just because you don’t know what you are doing (in my case running, among many other things), doesn’t mean that it should stop you from going after it.
I’ve struggled with my identity as an entrepreneur. In recent revelations I’ve discovered that I have a held a very rigid view of what being an entrepreneur means to me. I’m not sure where these beliefs came from, but what I know now is that I have been dead wrong. Since first becoming a ‘full-time’ business owner in 2009 I’ve always held a sizable consulting gig to provide me with a baseline of income. This year I struggled with one of those consulting gigs. Truly at times, I felt like a liar and a fraud, like I wasn’t a ‘real’ entrepreneur – whatever that means. In my warped mind I couldn’t possibly be a ‘real’ entrepreneur and be working for someone else, even if it were only a consulting gig. Ridiculous, I know.
I’ve recognized this irrational thinking and have turned a full 180 degrees. I’ve recently picked up a new consulting gig, different than the last – and I am loving it! It makes me think the previous gig was just not a right match for me and that’s where my feelings of angst and fraud came in to play. But regardless of where the feelings came from, they are gone now. Just because you are a business owner, an entrepreneur, a person doing your own thing – doesn’t mean you can’t work as part of a team for and with someone else. I think much of this came down to ego and pride. My advice to you – don’t let it get in your way like it has mine.
I’ve always had a penchant for surrounding myself with people who are smarter than me. It’s one of the best ways to learn in my opinion. This is a lesson you’ll probably see in many people’s lists for being better, more productive, etc. in business. In 2013 I was very strategic with the projects I took and the people I worked with. After my life changing epiphany in 2012, I very firmly put my foot down with working with people who were not on board with the new direction of my life and business. I was able to elaborate on that more and be very strategic with whom I did and did not work with.
I strategically aligned myself with people that have complimentary skill sets to me and I think that has been a big part of my growth as a person and a business owner this year. I have a real grasp on what my strengths are and what I can contribute to an organization, a project or a team. Knowing your strengths was #6 on my list last year and it is repeating here. When you are really clear on what you do best, what contributions you bring to the table and what is in your wheelhouse, you can really capitalize on your natural skills and abilities, to the benefit of everyone you work with.
I launched a product called “How to Authentically Market to the Gay Community.” I chose the wording authentic because it is so deeply important to embrace who you are at the core of your being. I firmly believe when we are not acting in our natural state, as in what is most innate and natural to you as a person, it shows through. Marketing to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community really comes down to being authentic in your approach. This transcends marketing and impacts just about everything in your life. This ties in with #3 above because this is where knowing what your strengths are can really come in handy.
I am who I am. I am not you and I am not going to try to be you. I know my strengths and weaknesses and how to compensate for both. How I am when I write my blog, record a podcast, host a webinar or if you pick up the phone and call me – you will always get Jenn, the real Jenn. I live to be my true authentic self, even if that means cracking a joke on my webinar to be met with the sound of crickets. It is liberating and freeing to always just be you and not worry about trying to impress those around you. Authenticity is key in life and for your LGBT marketing outreach.
I can be really hard on myself. You may be this way too. I have a tendency to over analyze and beat myself up while striving for perfection. There is nothing sustainable about trying to maintain perfection at all times. Echoing sentiments stated above – it is about being your authentic self, flaws and all. I’ve recognized over and over that striving for perfection and beating myself up when I don’t achieve it, is not good for my well being or the clients that I serve.
I do however, continue to maintain exceptionally high standards for myself, those who work for me, colleagues, and yes even my children. But what I have realized is that having high standards doesn’t mean you need to beat yourself up at every turn in the road. Sometimes it is okay to be perfectly imperfect. This is something I will continue to struggle with no doubt, but I am making a concentrated effort to throw a few less punches at myself.
It is not sustainable to be running at 100mph at all times, so why as business owners do we continue to do this to ourselves? Working 12-14 hour days for 365 days is a recipe for crashing and burning. I noticed an interesting pattern, a natural ebb and flow to my life, if you will. My natural ebb and flow is broken up into seven, 52-day periods that begin around my birthday in June.
Let me share an example – I was a maniac workaholic from August through the end of September, preparing for my online training course, then I crashed hard. I spent those 52 days seriously busting my ass with a very clear end goal in mind. Then from October to the end of November I retreated into my crab-like shell (as many Cancers are known to do) to regroup and collect myself. These two 52 day periods were drastically different from one another but they were seamless because I was going with the natural ebb and flow to my life. The key takeaway here is that we can’t always be sprinting, we must be thinking of our lives and businesses as if we were running a marathon. Get real deep with yourself and really just start paying attention to the natural tides occurring in your life. When you begin to recognize the natural expansion and contraction to life, you can be more conscious about going with the grain versus against it. This will likely save you time and stress in the process.
How about you? What lessons have you learned? I’d love for you to share in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.