Ten Years Post-College & 10 Things I'm Learning as an Entrepreneur | Ann Arbor Detroit Michigan Waco Texas Professional Organizer
I learned this week what a difference that quality hair products make for curlyheads like myself! Simple lesson that took me since 2002 to learn how to stop using Walgreen's Tresemme mousse and upgrade to Joico Root Lifter foam! I feel like a new woman. 🙌🏻
This week I celebrated my ten year anniversary since college graduation, and it got me to thinking about other things I've learned (more like present tense: learnING) other than just the wonders of new mousse!
There is a running joke at Texas A&M University, my alma mater, that goes, "What do you call an Aggie 10 years after graduation?" ..... "Boss!"
Well I prefer "team leader" to the title of boss but the reality did hit me that this is true. My company has grown to the point of needing regular employees, and I have been envisioning a well-oiled team for some time now!
I started my first official business in 2009 making handmade greeting cards. A couple of years before that, I had my first organizing client who hired me to organize his home office and paperwork. Organizing others' homes and offices is what I do full time now. But I have always been an entrepreneur at heart. The first thing I remember selling is my hand drawn Taz and Tweety drawings on manila paper in 4th grade in Mrs. Bennett's classroom portable.
Well, a lot has changed since then. I've had some really fun experiences as an entrepreneur and some really hard ones! I thought I would recount 10 lessons as an entrepreneur in my 10 years out of college!
1) Environment Matters
I literally could not count how many rooms and houses and roommates I've had in the last ten years but I can remember each environment as either nourishing or toxic for my growth! The way that I organize and set up my own space is a huge difference maker for how I thrive! When I moved to Ann Arbor, my business coach said to be sure to pick a place where I could personally thrive and not just where I thought business would be good. She was right! I love the scenery, environment and people in Ann Arbor.
2) I Can Overcome Anything
Self talk on this topic is a game changer. There are some times I have doubted that I can overcome. I have faced some seemingly insurmountable obstacles in the last five years, and am actually facing one now. I can still palpably feel the instincts of past years of wanting to give up and give in. I graduated nursing school and failed the state boards seven times without ever becoming certified. That 7 year process of schooling and testing was incredibly challenging and humbling. I look at it now with thankfulness, because I realize I can overcome challenges and impossibilities because of the nature of who I am in Christ. This is a non-negotiable to believe whenever I am facing challenges as an entrepreneur and business owner. I do not question if I can overcome it, I simply ask how I am going to overcome it.
3) Investing in Myself is Worth It
The biggest growth for me in business came undoubtedly when I decided to invest several thousand dollars into coaching. Investing in a business coach is investing in yourself. It is saying "I'm serious. I'm going to do what it takes to make this work. I'm going to find someone who has something that I want and allow myself to be taught and guided by them." I would not be where I am in business without Erica Duran and Lisa Woodruff, as well as Juleigh Smith who has done some personal and Dream coaching with me for a year and a half.
4) I Can't Buy or Manufacture Confidence; I Can Only Receive It
Often people will say to me that they cannot believe how confident I am to take off across the country or world and to start a business and live my passion. Sometimes this is how I feel and other times I feel like what in the world am I doing? But it comes down to confidence in knowing I am in the path God has made for me; there is nowhere else I could feel peace or confidence in being right now other than where I am. I wish I could give you five easy steps to manufacture your own confidence. But it doesn't happen that way. My confidence cannot be based on my abilities or my performance at the end of the day. Confidence grows with time. It grows with hearing from clients and colleagues that what I said or did really resonated with them and made a difference for them. Even so, my confidence doesn't rest in the fact that I have something to offer and that someone thought it was good. At the very end of the day it rests in my identity as a child of God and that He has given me everything necessary to be a light in people's hearts and homes, regardless of how they respond. All a light does is shine! I thank God He has helped me find my gift and helped me share it with the world. This confidence can't be bought with a program or with a college degree of any kind. It can only be received. Thank you Juleigh for your coaching in how to receive this confidence from the Holy Spirit! I can't create it but I can step into it.
5) I am Not For Everyone and Everyone is Not for Me
I think I used to have the idea that I had something to offer to everyone and that everyone could like me and I could like them back. Guess what? Some clients are not a good fit- I do not gel with them and don't feel like the person that is meant to help them. Recently I turned down a very large potential client and it was a difficult process of saying no, but if I had not listened to my intuition and tried to forge ahead in attempt to help them, it actually would not be the best for them either. I'm learning that God's best means it is best from every angle. If I don't have peace from Him on a situation or decision, it means it's not only not best for me but it's not best for the other either, and that He has a best in mind that doesn't have to include me. That's very freeing.
6) Healing is a Process... and So Is Getting Organized
One myth of the healing process after loss or disappointment is that it can be finished. It's also a myth for getting organized - the idea that you will ever be completely finished being organized. Your life evolves and changes. Your life stages change. Your goals and ideals change over time as well. I have been learning the value of the process. Entrepreneurship is a pressure cooker for dealing with your issues. Everything you ever felt insecure about is now in your face and magnified. Every fear, question, ounce of resistance, and procrastination tendency is made evident to you when you're in business for yourself. These all come from a deeper source - we all know actions come from feelings which come from thoughts. When I feel something come up for me that signals that I am in need of deeper healing, now instead of being frustrated that, "haven't I already dealt with this?" I can actually look at it as an invitation to go deeper because healing is a process and not a destination. The reason I bring healing up in a list of entrepreneurship lessons is because personal wholeness is vital to business wholeness. How I think, act, and speak about business whether with clients, teammates, or contractors all stems from a place of wholeness or incompleteness from within. When I operate from incompleteness it is like I am trying to prove something to myself or to someone else. When I operate from wholeness I can be fully present with someone no matter the outcome of whether they like my suggestion or business posture. All this is very real for an entrepreneur who deals 1:1 with people in a relational way like I do in people's homes all day.
7) Be Myself Because No One Else Can!
I mentioned Erica Duran earlier - she was my first business coach and I really enjoyed working with her. She helped me to really own who I am as a businessperson and to let my personality and interests shine through my work and my website. Consequently, I hear from people literally every week that they love my site or my work- people who I have never met. How is this even possible? It is because I decided to start being fully who I am- and that means I love Jesus with all my heart and believe He is the hope of all hearts, so that is going to naturally show up in my work in client's homes. In my contract is an option for people to choose to start our sessions with prayer and worship. This is part of me being myself and offering who I am - no one else can offer quite what I can because we do not have the same experiences and story!
8) The People Around Me Make All the Difference
Oh boy. People are my heartbeat. The real reason I love traveling for business is the people I get to meet. During my time at Texas A&M I connected with some incredible people. I've taken at least three cross country trips to see them all, under the guise of business trips. Oh, I do business while I'm there but really the draw to certain locations for me is the people I love. One of my very biggest gifts in life is my network of friends. I have been so fortunate to meet people who I deeply admire and truly consider to be heroes. Surrounding myself with these people has kept me inspired and feeling loved and believed in, even when I couldn't imagine how to keep going. I love my peeps. The people surrounding me in business also matters. I have been so lucky to connect with Lisa Woodruff who has the podcast Organize365. Going through her mentorship and VIP Day has helped set the course for decisions I'm making for my business that will impact years to come. She is a powerhouse of a strategy woman who blows my mind with her insights!
9) Finding What I Love Takes Work
Finding what I am passionate enough about to do full-time literally took ten years. All the odd jobs and seasonal gigs I've done up until this point have each uniquely informed the work I do now. You can look at my resume and consider me unemployable. I really don't care. Oddly juxtaposed to being unemployable is that I am Jane of all trades and I just figure stuff out. Being an entrepreneur means I figure out how to make a website, do graphic design, register an LLC, write a contract, market myself and my services and so much more. If I want to know how to do something I teach myself by asking people and scouring books and the internet. Everything is figureoutable. There is not one string of experiences that qualify me to be a professional organizer, but I am awesome at what I do because of all my unique experiences. In ten short years I have moved cross country three times which in itself qualifies me to be a relocation specialist - I have been there and done that, so I can tell you what to do. I have accumulated and downsized, and I know the ins and outs of how to make these decisions because I've done it first hand. My background in nursing and caregiving has taught me how to come alongside someone in the midst of their situation and offer hope and solutions, but mostly support. I could go on about how my jobs and education and experiences have informed my current work, but at the same time it did not come easily. It was not a clear path. Finding your life's work is not going to be clear cut most of the time. More often than not, it emerges as you are doing other work.
10) Failure Isn't Final
I'll save the long and sad stories for another day about failure and setbacks. What I've learned through all the setbacks is that failure is merely feedback. It is something that did not work. Rather than it being a red mark of ineptitude, it is a signal to try something else. It's not a signal to give up. Winston Churchill said that it is the courage to continue that counts.
P.S. Stay tuned to my next adventures and lessons by subscribing here: www.hollysoutherland.com/subscribe. You'll receive my free mini e-book on organizing, and stay in the loop on upcoming Sunday Basket (TM) workshops in Waco, Ann Arbor, and wherever else I travel! Stay tuned on instagram and Facebook for stories and inspiration.
P.P.S. Are you also an entrepreneur who is ready to invest in yourself? Are you ready for your own VIP Day? What if you could get major parts of your house organized in 4 days and have vision and a plan for continuing it? I travel the country helping entrepreneurs get their own environments in order to set them up for the best success. Whether you are a home-based direct sales business, an author with a start-up writing gig, or a high level business coaching executive - I help you strategize by how to get your house in order quickly by setting up the key spaces & systems for you to thrive. Time to stop procrastinating getting organized so you can live your dream! See my travel packages and inquire when I'll be in a place near you. I'll be in Texas all summer!
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