I knew in my gut that this was the night we would become strangers to each other again.
After almost 4 years, we broke up.
We said goodbye for the last time and I stepped out into the cold night.
Disbelief mixed with tinges of relief made me feel dizzy.
Exactly one week later, I met with the business founder I had been working with for over 6 years and gave her my notice.
It was November 2021, I was 49.
Within one week, I had two breakups.
And I was starting over.
Over the next few months, I felt lost, a bit freaked out…but also excited.
I knew I was finally going to take the leap and start my own business but I wasn’t sure how it would take shape.
So I took some time to find my footing.
I meditated, journaled, and exercised every morning.
I read even more books than usual – some business, some not.
I relished not having 12-hour days working on a major launch in December and January for the first time in 5 years.
In February 2022, I announced my business to the world (aka friends, family, and LinkedIn contacts).
Nothing much happened in the first few weeks. I was getting used to the idea that I now got to make all the decisions. That I could do things my own way.
Then in mid-February, I sold my $10k offer.
To a well-known digital marketing pioneer no less!
Yup, the first offer I ever made as the founder of minimalist biz was a big one.
It was part done-for-you services and part consulting over 3 months.
In the first few weeks, we worked on her vision, positioning and messaging, and created a plan based on her main areas of focus.
When it came time to implement that plan, I wanted to make sure she was getting her investment’s worth.
So I ended up doing many of the things she needed done that weren’t part of my offer. Designing and creating landing pages, reviewing and optimizing email sequences and automations, project management etc.
I now understand that I didn’t believe in the value I could provide without getting my hands dirty. Even though I had years of strategy and coaching/advising experience, I felt like I needed to do more. Be in the trenches.
It was clear I had to change my offer to not include done-for-you services. Otherwise, I would keep falling back on doing what felt like more ‘tangible’ work.
By April, I had a new 8-week offer that was entirely consulting.
Within a few months, I was working with 2 clients I’d coached over the past few years in the group coaching program created by the founder I was a right-hand for. And 2 other clients I’d previously worked with as a freelance digital strategist.
While my offer was for 8 weeks, three of my clients asked to keep working with me for longer. Yay!
But I still wasn’t making enough money to cover my expenses and my son’s university costs. So I took on freelance marketing work and did some positioning and messaging projects.
Fast forward to December 2022. Same clients and one ongoing freelance project.
This was not how it was supposed to be.
I had over 9 years of first-hand experience with almost every aspect of building and growing online businesses.
Shouldn’t I be further along by now?
No. I was right where I should be. Struggling to find my way with a heavy dose of self-sabotage.
I sabotaged myself by spending loads of time exploring and writing about deep and twisty philosophical concepts.
I’d only started to write regularly in March. And I jumped right into tackling topics like our perception of time, and the hard problem of consciousness.
My inner wannabe intellectual had taken over and stamped down my business builder.
It was time to get help.
So in early December, I hired a coach.
It took over a month for me to realize that with the freedom to call the shots in my own business, I’d sneakily built a cage for myself. A cage made up of other people’s deep thoughts that I wanted to emulate.
I was doing hard things. But not the things that mattered most to growing a business. Like talking about what my business is and how I help people.
My coach saw this before I did and wisely suggested I go on an information fast.
That I stop seeking out other people’s ideas and start sharing my own.
I knew he was right. So I drastically reduced how much information I consumed.
It took me another month to step out of that cage.
That was a few weeks ago.
And I might be more freaked out than I was after my double breakup over a year ago.
It feels risky to be out on my own. Unprotected. Without the security of smarter people’s perspectives.
I can tell you though, that in the few short weeks I’ve been cage-free, I finally believe I have what it takes to be the bold business builder that’s always been inside me.
Are you in a self-imposed cage? What’s yours made of?
If you’re cage-free, what are you doing to be the bold business builder you know you can be?