I wanted to be a blogger.
That’s why I started my first website, that’s why I worked on finding readers, and that’s why I wrote at weird hours of the day while my newborn daughter was sleeping.
I saw other women working from home, making some money on the side, and using their writing talents to educate or entertain. I wanted that life.
The blogging life was a good one but, as I achieved it, I was also exposed to other intriguing possibilities. I could write and self-publish books. I could create digital products. I could teach courses or work privately with clients. The blogging life turned into the writing life, the writing life turned into the coaching life.
Beyond that, my goals expanded.
I started out wanting to bring in some money on the side. Then, I decided I wanted to surpass my old meager salary. Then, I wanted to retire my husband and earn over $100,000 in one year — a number I had never previously imagined earning.
I accomplished all those things and my goals continued to expand.
Soon enough, I was on the quest to build a company that generated over $1 million in revenue per year. I could see building the products, delivering exceptional value, and enjoying the rewards of my work.
What I didn’t see was the difference between how I was running my business and how I would need to run my company.
Like many small business owners and freelancers, my previous work experience was in a giant corporation. Sure, I knew there was a CEO, a board of directors, a team of executives, and a whole host of regional & district managers. However, I had no feel for how it worked. It was something I could talk about conceptually but not practically.
It’s no wonder that it wasn’t part of my original business vision. Of course, it didn’t help that everyone online was espousing the benefits of a “solo entrepreneur” life. I couldn’t imagine — and didn’t think I needed to — running a team beyond the help of a virtual assistant.
Then, I struggled — maybe not outwardly, but certainly inwardly.
While my business continued to grow, I wondered why it wasn’t growing faster. I wondered why doing the right things just weren’t as effective as they should have been. I wondered why, despite having some help, I felt like things were always on the verge of collapsing.
Then, the 2016 election happened.
Like many in my network of friends and colleagues, I was shaken to the core. Everything that I worked so hard for felt meaningless and unimportant. I wanted to burn it down and do something that would have a bigger impact on our communities.
After a couple of months, I was able to see a way forward. I decided to move my business away from coaching programs and double-down on the small community of business owners that had been a quiet but steady presence in my model. I believed — and still do — that I could create the hub for small business owners to gather, trade notes, have honest conversations, and get real about what was actually working online. And, I believed that when that happened, I could shift my focus to advocating for the needs of independent workers and small businesses when it comes to public policy.
I wanted to create political and social power for people who were using commerce to do good in their communities and for themselves.
Now 8 years into my entrepreneurial journey, I had some new realizations. With my renewed purpose and vision, it was easy to see that I couldn’t cobble together a team of contractors to just get the work done anymore. I needed a team of people who were as invested in the mission as I was and who were willing to own their responsibilities at the highest levels. I wanted them to show up ready to work and willing to create magic.
My vision shifted.
When I got clear about my mission again, I was finally able to imagine a new vision for a company that could actually achieve it. I could see myself leading a team, managing a team, and — most importantly — allowing a team to do their best work so that I could do mine.
Now my goals and my vision are aligned.
The reason I struggled to reach the bigger goals I set for myself was because they had outpaced the operational vision I had for my business.
I could imagine the outcome — but not the capacity to create it.
This is the same scenario I observe with so many small business owners and freelancers today. They’ve been sold on solo entrepreneurship, the 4-hour workweek, and the ability to make hundreds of thousands of dollars through information marketing. Yet, the same people selling these dreams are running companies that function very differently than their audiences imagine.
It is possible — absolutely — to generate initial success on your own and with little help. You might make good money and develop valuable offers.
But it is also very possible that your initial success, like mine, will give way to bigger goals. These goals will haunt you, taunt you, and nag you until either you give up or give in to rethinking what it means to run your business.
You’ll believe for a time — as I did — that there’s something wrong with you. You’ll believe for a time — as I did — that you’re not good enough. You’ll believe for a time — as I did — that I’d bitten off more than I could chew.
Yet, you will persist, adapt, and grow your capacity for leadership.
The operational vision for your business will shift. You’ll see what you’re creating as something that is so much bigger than yourself — regardless of the ultimate “size” of that vision.
One final note…
When you do shift the way you envision your business and finally align it to your goals, you’ll realize your role is much grander than you originally envisioned too. While you probably saw yourself “doing the work,” you now realize that you need to “be the leader.”
You’ll be tempted to try to work into this role and allow yourself to level up gradually. This is a mistake.
You need to own that role right now. You can’t afford to wait until you’re ready for leadership or prepared to manage. It has to happen now.
Initially, your daily activities won’t change much. You’ll still be doing the work and keeping things together. But your perspective on your role will be different. You’ll see your work in a new light and you’ll manage the operations of your business differently.
Until you do that, your capacity for growth will remain small.
That’s the first step toward building your new vision for your company. And it’s time to take that step now.
If this story intrigues you, I invite you to tune in for my next CreativeLive class on November 8–9, Create a Hiring Plan & Grow Your Standout Business. I’ll be sharing more of my personal journey, discussing the pain points of business growth with a panel of students, and offering a guide for planning for this next phase of your company.
The best part is that you can watch FREE while the class is live. Click here to RSVP.