What’s so hard about growing your business?

Building a business is hard work. There’s lots to do and lots to learn.

But if it was just “work hard,” most of us could handle that.

I gave “working all the time” a try, but I learned that growing a business is more than just putting in the hours. 

As my business grew, I learned that:

  • As I encountered more humans (prospects, clients, and team members) and tried to get them to work in concert with one another, I had to grow in empathy. I started to want to understand other people, what motivated them, what made them tick?
  • When I failed or came up short, I learned to look at the stories I tell about myself and the world, how they serve me, and my ego, but they might not be exactly true.
  • When I succeed, there’s a whole other layer of stories that rise up to slap me in the face…do I deserve this? Or am I precariously perched on the edge of a cliff waiting for the other shoe to drop?

So I tried getting smarter! (Work smart, not hard, right?)

In my 30’s I devoured books about management and leadership. I filled my head with as much knowledge about leadership as I could. Having those frameworks and methods in my head did help; I felt less lost. But what I was lacking wasn’t just knowledge; it was character.

  • I was still locked in my habitual personality traits, pushing when I should be persuading—judging when I could be understanding.
  • There were still lots of acts of self-sabotage. Little ways, I was undermining my success while telling myself stories about how I “deserved” this or that.
  • Trying to be a better leader didn’t make me better at actually leading!

Finally, I realized that reading leadership books wouldn’t make me a better leader any more than reading books about bikes can teach me to ride one – I know what I need to do, but I still can’t do it.

Leading a growing business isn’t just doing the right things or knowing the right things to do…it’s about being the leader, embodying that role and all that comes with it, and being OK with that. Not needing it, nor rejecting it, nor twisting it, just being at peace in it.

Do you recognize yourself in this journey? What has worked for you?

I’ll be back on Thursday with what helped me most.

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