When you look backwards, does it seem like you've owned your business for forever?
Or does it feel like just yesterday that you signed that lease or moved into your space or made a new beginning?
For me, it simultaneously feels like yesterday that we got our own space for our music school and at the same time, like FOREVER ago.
It was 8 years ago but I swear we've always been there.
The last 3 years have been extra crazy. That's when we got really serious about adding new streams of income to our business. I challenged Chris to quit his job and that's when the rubber hit the road. We were "all in" and had to ensure the security of our family's future.
We cut coupons.
We cut spending.
We doubled down on our time and streamlined our homeschooling.
We hired new business coaches to assist us and I delved into learning from dozens of new classes and trainings.
We knew this was our moment. We had to get serious. We had to do whatever it takes so we could make a difference for our kids and for our lives.
With two of us focused on the business, we moved much faster than I could all by myself.
We had two parents to help with the kids and the meals and the schooling.
We had two vastly different skill sets to draw from so we could get out there in a bigger way and offer new services to clients around us.
It was not easy.
But I've never taken the easy road. I've always been up for a challenge.
I want to do hard things, dream big dreams and accomplish great things.
I've never been content with floating through life or sticking with the status quo.
I don't follow the crowd. I lead it.
This journey has been flat out hard. But it has brought Chris and I so much closer and developed personal growth and character in both of us that we would not have gained if we had stayed where we were.
Most people remark: "I could never work with my spouse." Sometimes I wonder how we do it, too!
It forces us to face our differences and understand one another.
It takes a lot of work and a lot of intentional conversations.
Many people tell me "I could NEVER homeschool my kids" but they don't realize how much time you gain when you keep your kids out of the crazy schedule of school. Our kids are happier and more pleasant to be around because we are crafting their education around their strengths and their sleep schedule.
Is this life easy? No way. But I wouldn't have it any other way.
Challenges make you strong.
Fear makes me fall on my knees and turn to God for strength.
Anxiety makes me dig deep for answers.
The hard stuff brings out the beautiful.
Around the holidays, some businesses are crazy-busy and others have sales flatline. It can be worrisome. It can feel scary. It can be tempting to ruin the season by worrying and wringing your hands.
I found myself brainstorming my fears the other day and instead, I chose to be proactive. I remembered that I thrive on a challenge.
I can do hard things.
I can climb this mountain like I've climbed all the others in the past.
I turned on some worship music on Pandora (I love the Lauren Daigle station) and then I listened to a few sermons by Steven Furtick (he always pumps me up and encourages me). Once I regained some sanity and got my anxiety under my feet, I grabbed a piece of paper and started brainstorming what I could do to make money or save money. The ideas started flowing. The worry disappeared.
Watch this week's video and tell me if this method works for you, too.
Here's my challenge: You can sit and wallow in the hard or you can face it head-on.
You can decide this is all too much and back down from the challenge or you can brainstorm ways to do things differently.
You can give up or you can press on.
You can keep trying to do it the way that isn't working or you can ask God for wisdom on how to change the plan.
It's your choice. But I believe in you. You can do this.
You've made it this far.
You can do the next right thing.
"You're holding me back!!" I yelled. I slammed my fist on the steering wheel. I was in my parked car, on the phone, sitting outside of my music school.
I was frustrated.
I was angry.
I felt misunderstood and held back.
It was not my finest hour. But I was fed up. I felt backed into a corner. I was being told to "calm down" and "be patient." I was told that boredom is good. I should get used to it.
Those are not words that resonate with me.
As a creative entrepreneur, there is nothing inside of me that wants to maintain or keep things steady. I thrive on big new projects and coming up with new ideas.
Even if I start something and shut it down.
Even if my big new idea doesn't get any further than my notebook.
Even if I start a website and Facebook page, only to close it up after I realize "This isn't what I want to be doing."
THIS is how I learn. I have to go explore. I have to try things on for size.
It drives Chris crazy.
He's not wired like this. He is wired to get the plan, implement the plan, and keep the whole thing running (thank God). The difference in our personalities can be VERY difficult sometimes. It causes conflict. Hurt. Misunderstanding.
But when we work through our differences, we also form an amazing partnership.
It's just that getting to the "amazing" part can be very, very painful and hard.
Maybe you are a little like me. Maybe you are living in shame from false starts. Maybe you don't even trust yourself anymore.
But the desire to do big things, try new things, invent, start, create. . . it just doesn't go away.
That's because you are an entrepreneur.
I've had many business coaches. Nine that I can count off the top of my head. They each have taught me something different. They each have given me skills that have helped me advance my company forward.
But the ones who provided a community of like-minded entrepreneurs have been the most effective.
I can't do life in isolation. Especially working from home.
I need people who "get" me and who cheer me on. I need a safe place to land when I'm discouraged. I need a safe place to brainstorm when I have a new shiny idea. I need people who TRUST that I can make it happen and not doubt what I am doing.
Let me challenge you: If you are surrounded by people who just want to play it safe, survive the week and get to the weekend, maintain what they have built, or people who are negative, complaining, and super competitive, I challenge you to find a new community.
If you are a woman, surrounded by men, you may need a new community.
If you are a stay at home working mom surrounded by stay at home moms who do not work, you may need to add to your community.
If you are a homeschool mom and the only one of your friends who is working from home, you need to add to your community.
It's not healthy to stay isolated.
YOU are not the one who needs to change. Your support system needs to change.
YOU don't need to blend in. You need to find a group that gets you.
FIND a group of people who celebrates you. Not questions you.
Find people who cheer when you are excited and mourn when you are sad.
You don't have to leave your marriage or abandon your friends. You just need to add to what you already have.
The Never Alone Inner Circle was built for creatives and dreamers. Feelers and thinkers. Passionate people with big dreams and determination to make things happen.
If this sounds like you, explore the program details here:
One more thing: Did you know that most millionaires have SEVEN streams of income? If you aren't wired to just run one thing, then it's time to listen to your gut and start that new thing.
Yes, some people will think you're crazy.
Some people will question what you're doing.
But you'll never know if you're right unless you try.
And who knows? The next thing could be the thing that changes everything.
After all, you aren't starting from scratch anymore.
You're starting from experience.
And check out this week's video I made for you. See if it speaks to your heart.
Several years ago, I was stabbed in the back. A father whose daughter took lessons at our studio, decided to start his own music school--just a few miles away from our location. He opened the doors and still sat at his daughter's recital, in one of seats near the front, looking right at me. He even joined a coaching program that I was in! I was seething. How could he do this to me??
My mentor at that time kindly told me, "There are more than enough clients for everyone. Ignore him. Keep your eyes on your own business."
At first I was furious. I wanted sympathy. I wanted revenge.
Instead, I did exactly what my coach suggested: I ignored him. I focused on growing my own school.
Around that same time, one of the teachers at my music school left and started his own music school a few miles the other direction. This time I didn't give him much energy. "Do your own thing, Jen," I coached myself. I focused on my company, my staff, my systems, my marketing.
I could have frozen in fear. I could have shrunk back and refused to hire anyone else in case they, too, would leave me and hurt me.
I didn’t. I chose abundance. I chose to believe there are enough fish in the sea. There are enough families to serve. The potential hurt is worth the opportunity to serve more kids and more families.
Since these two hurtful events, guess what happened? We doubled our income. Around that time, we were grossing around $500,000 per year. Just 3 years later, we bring in $1,000,000 per year.
You can choose to fight your competition or you can choose to fight your fear.
I worked extra hard. I was attentive to our marketing message. I gave my clients more amenities that the new schools couldn't afford. I doubled down on my time and my discipline to my work time. I added additional streams of income. We now have 3 large streams flowing into our main umbrella company. It gives us security-- if anything happens to one, we know the cash flow will not completely dry up. I have trained my staff to manage and maintain what we have, so I can scout out new streams of serving people. (I love service-based industries. There will always be needs we can meet, people we can serve, and money we can make.)
When I was tempted to flip my lid and throw a fit about new competitors popping up, I took that energy and grew my own company. I asked myself, "What can I do about this?" I can't stop someone from wanting to fulfill their own dreams. I can't stop them from pursuing their passions. But I CAN serve my clients and keep my eyes on my own work.
I'm not interested in dominating my market. I am interested in doing the absolute best job I can for my clients. And that creates a culture of very happy clients who refer their friends. Our reputation is strong. Our name is not tarnished. We work with integrity and we always will.
I don't need to crush my competition. I need to crush my own fears.
I created a video this week that at first might rub you the wrong way. But I have to speak truth. Watch it and let me know your thoughts.
I'm always here to cheer you on.
About the Author
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!