We all know it can be tough being a One Woman Shop, but from my experience working with the do-gooders, change-makers, and ruckus-starters of the world... it's even harder being a one woman revolution.
Now, I work with a plethora of driven, passionate, and mission-driven solopreneurs. They're out to make a difference in the world and just happen to use their businesses to do that. They have more than just something to sell; they have something to SAY. And they're some of the fiercest, most committed humans I've had the pleasure of knowing. Sound like you?
If it does, then you know that it's not all rainbows and sunshine, this mission-driven entrepreneurship thing - especially when you're riding solo.
Of course, we struggle with product development, service creation, marketing strategies, time management, and a whole slew of other biz obstacles. But beyond the challenges of the average solopreneuring superstar lies a set of unique issues I hear all too often from my do-gooding, change-making, ruckus-starting clients.
1. PRESSURE: Carrying the Weight of the World on Your Shoulders
There's a level of personal responsibility we place on ourselves when our businesses are built upon the bedrock of impact. Because our missions to make a difference are so deeply ingrained in our businesses (and in the very fabric of who are) we start believing that if we miss the mark, the greater good we're trying to achieve is going to suffer.
Stop Thinking: "If I don’t launch this product/service/program right and it flops, I'll not only being failing myself... I'm failing my cause."
Start Believing: This "epic failure" mindset is probably the biggest contributor to stunted biz growth among mission-driven entrepreneurs because the pressure becomes so big and so gnarly that it stops you in your tracks. It makes you so afraid of failure that it only results in failure to try risky things, push the envelope, and shake shoulders. And that, my friend, is failure to affect change.
2. NEGLECT: Putting Yourself Dead Last on Your List of Biz Priorities
I'm not talking about self-care here. I'm talking about being so committed to making a difference and helping others that we build an encyclopedia of excuses why everyone and everything comes before yourself. If someone needs your help and can't afford your products or services, you're inclined to help because you started your business to HELP - even if helping means you add to your already too-heavy workload or that you'll have to sacrifice something important to you to make time.
Stop Thinking: "I don't have the time or energy to work for free... but this person REALLY needs my help and I'm in the business of helping people."
Start Believing: Neglecting to put yourself first when taking on the task of saving the world or starting a movement means neglecting to put your mission first. That sounds contradictory, but it's not. If you spend all your time doing work for free in the name of helping others, you're not spending your time doing what you need to do to be your best. When you sacrifice sleep in the name of helping others, you're sacrificing performance the next day. When you sacrifice family time, you sacrifice moments and memories that feed your soul. When you sacrifice time and energy spent working on your next big thing, you sacrifice the potential of that project making its maximum impact. When you sacrifice YOU, you sacrifice the mission.
3. ENOUGHNESS: Feeling Like You're Never Doing Enough, Shouting Enough, Being Enough
Let’s be totally honest. There’s always more good to be done, more change to be made, more shoulders to be shaken in the world than any one woman revolution can tackle herself. And because of that fact, you probably tend to reside in the “Never Enough” camp when it comes to your confidence level. This doesn’t show up to outsiders, though - it nestles deep inside your brain where only you can hear it and you can hardly ever shut it off.
Stop Thinking: “I’m not doing enough/saying enough/being enough to really make an impact in the world. I should be doing/saying/being MORE.”
Start Believing: First and foremost, what you’re doing/saying/being is MORE than enough. Most people don’t give a damn to make an impact but you DO. The fact that you’re doing/saying/being anything at all means your level of enoughness is far above and beyond the average joe. And secondly, you’re a human. You can only do/say/be so much. If you’re working your tail off to make an impact and it’s slow-going or barely working - it’s not due to your lack of commitment or your lack of effort. Creating a movement takes time and it often feels like damn-near rocket science. Keep trying. Keep experimenting. Keep innovating. Keep doing and saying and being. You’ll figure it out as you go so long as you don’t guilt yourself down burn-out alley.
4. ISOLATION: Being an Outsider Even in the Presence of Peers
Doing good, making change, and starting a ruckus is not easy work despite what some may think. Those of us in the business of impact are often misunderstood. People think it’s all rainbows and sparkles and unicorns because it’s meaningful work that gives us warm fuzzies and a sense of purpose in life. But it’s quite the opposite. And even fellow members of entrepreneurial cool kids club don’t seem to get that. Being mission-driven in a world of fortune-, fame-, and freedom-driven business owners can feel lonely and alienating at times.
Stop Thinking: “These people just don’t get me. I don’t have people to turn to when it comes to needing help with spreading my message.”
Start Believing: It’s true. For every mission-driven entrepreneur out there, there’s at least 10 other entrepreneurs driven by something else (based on entirely unscientific research, that is). But there are like-minded revolutionaries out there. We just don’t always wear our do-gooder, change-maker, ruckus-starter name badges, so it’s sometimes hard to find us. To initiate your “Impact Radar” (that’s the part of your brain that recognizes fellow impact junkies - more unscientific research for ya), you’ve got to listen carefully. Find people talking about social entrepreneurship, changemaking, philanthropy, purpose, and “heart-centered” business. That’s normally where you’ll find us lurking.
5. OBSCURITY: Swimming in a Sea of Rules Written for Everyone Else
You take the classes. You attend the webinars. You buy all of the eBooks and read at least half of them. You go to the conferences. You hire the coaches. You scour the internet for anything you can consume that will help you become card-carrying, cape-clad SUPERpreneur. But it all feels... ill-fitting. The definitive guides are about building traffic, the roadmaps and blueprints are for making six figures in six months. And the courses push smarmy marketing and sales copy tactics that make you feel sick to your stomach. But you implement everything you can and you still feel like your all-important, game-changing message is merely a whisper in the midst of a hurricane.
Stop Thinking: “I’ve done everything the gurus tell me to and it’s not working. Is the mission-driven business model just not viable? Am I struggling because this just can’t be done?”
Start Believing: The answer, quite simply, is NO. You’re not struggling because you can’t make a buck while making an impact. You’re struggling because we’re being taught the rules of the entrepreneurial game that have been written by people with other priorities. There’s a plethora of resources for those looking to make oodles of money, get famous overnight, or work as little possible - but there’s not much out there for those driven to make a difference through their businesses. You’re struggling because you are a rare breed. You’re struggling because the current culture of entrepreneurship hasn’t yet made room for us - and we haven’t yet decided to demand it. And it’s about time that changed, wouldn’t ya say?
I say it’s time to demand that the One Woman (okay, and Man) Revolutions of the entrepreneurial world stand up, raise their hands high, and let each other know we’re here. I say it’s time to start the conversations mission-driven entrepreneurs need to be having and provide each other with the support we all need. I say it’s time we join forces with another as we plow forward in our endeavors to leave a dent in this world.
Step 1? Sound off in the comments about your biggest challenge as a One Woman Revolution.
Step 2? Engage your fellow revolutionaries in some conversation about how they best overcome what you struggle with most. We’re in this together, changemakers.