[Dear Entrepreneur] I made $350k and I still felt like a failure...
Building a business is hard, but more in a self-discovery way than a run-some-Facebook-ads kinda way (the latter is MUCH easier). There's so much that "they" say you should do, that it leaves little room for you to uncover and follow what actually aligns with your core values and personal convictions. So because of that, it gets messy, and sometimes we lose ourselves along the way. But, thankfully, we ALL go through these "learning periods" and experience full-circle moments (it's not just you or me -- whew!).
These stories are accounts of my "learnings", first hand experiences, and full-circle moments. They are real, raw, unfiltered and uncomfortable for me to share... but the more I build a business, the more I wish there was someone there for me in the beginning who told it to me straight and encouraged me to fight despite it all. Because we don't need any more smoke and mirrors. We need to band together and let the curtains fall. None of us are perfect, none of us have some magic wand. We're all fighting for our dreams, and I want to be the first to share from the heart. That's why the Dear Entrepreneur series exists. I hope it helps you in some small way.
All you could hear was the scribble of pen on paper and birds chirping outside the nearby window.
I was furiously writing out my goals and plans for how I would make $1.4 million over the course of the next 11 months and help a lot of women in the process. I have always been one to go BIG, and I was one who could typically find a way to pull it off, so this didn't seem far-fetched. After all, I had just come off a hugely successful launch.
"This is soooo happening", I thought.
I was sitting on a brown, plasticky couch in the living room of an AirBnB that me and one my best friends rented for a week, in Fort Lauderdale. White computer paper, with black ball-point scribbles all over, littered the coffee table in front of me and the space on the couch to my right. It was mid-January of 2016 and the smell of fresh opportunity was in the air.
But what I didn't know was that 2016 would become one of the hardest years of my life...
I didn't know that everything I knew to be true would be questioned and challenged.
So I naively pressed on.
Mostly because I didn't really have a moment to look up or breathe.
Right as we moved from Pennsylvania to Florida (in December 2015), I was in the middle of a big launch. And I was also planning, and hustling to pay for, my wedding that was right around the corner.
Three major life events at once... as much as I wanted to take a breather, I had no choice. (Yes, in case you're wondering, people did tell me I was crazy.)
I imagine it's kind of what some mother's feel like a lot of the time. Life is chaotic, kids are screaming, the dog is nearby chewing on the baseboards because no one has had any time to take him on a walk in 4 days. But you smile and play it cool because that's just what you do.
(I'm not a mom, but I have mad respect for all mothers. Ya'll are OG's.)
So there I was, I was hanging on, playing it LL Cool J level cool until everything spiraled just two days before my wedding...
To make a long story short, I found out two of my bridesmaids had been saying some really hurtful things about me. I saw a text message I wasn't supposed to see and it included some unkind words directed at me and my business. When I saw the text, my face immediately felt hot and every single emotion began beating inside my chest. My throat tightened, my mind was racing, and I froze in complete stillness.
I wanted to scream and cry and run away and leave the room and never see anyone ever again.
I don't know why I was so hurt. I intuitively knew something wasn't right way before that, but seeing the physical manifestation of what my intuition told me was true, devastated me to my core.
There it was. Total validation that I was failing, right in front of my face. That I couldn't be successful AND be a good friend, sister, daughter, wife.... fill in the blank. I wasn't enough. And all of my deepest, darkest fears were confirmed in a moment.
But by the pure grace of my amazing, gracious, loving God, I was able to have the best wedding day ever. Everything was perfect and all I cared about was that I was re-marrying the absolute love of my life (Kyle and I got married in a courthouse 11 months prior, so this was just a big celebration).
But like a bandaid on a fresh wound, everything ripped wide open right after our wedding day.
Much more family drama ensued, from all sides. I felt too exhausted to do anything outside of serving my clients. And I wanted to hide, because I was so afraid more people I loved would hate me for pursuing my dreams. Or that they would just hate me for being me.
(In my head and heart this is what it felt like, in a nutshell.)
You know what they say about kicking a horse when it's down...
I was struggling, but I wanted to be alone. I so desperately needed to be alone.
Whenever I go through a difficult season in my life, I crave alone time. Besides my husband, who is literally the other half of my soul, I go completely inward and just talk to God.
So I hid. For awhile.
It caused my business income to suffer. Some of my dearest friendships collapsed. I gained weight and I struggled with bouts of depression.
And those goals and well-intentioned financial projections started collecting dust.
There were a lot of "what am I doing?!" and "what's all this for, anyways?!" moments.
The thing about building a business is that 99.99% of the challenges you face come from within.
What manifests in our physical experience is a projection of what's going on inside... so even though I had done the inner work, or so I thought, there is ALWAYS more to be done.
I was being pushed to the next level. And it hurt like hell.
I was forced to evaluate every priority, every relationship, every single way I was spending my time and every tiny corner of my life.
It wasn't until April that I felt like I was able to peer outside of my bubble... and honestly, it's all because of sales funnels that my business kept moving forward.
Shameless plug: because of my sales funnels, we were able to keep making money even though I was doing about 1/10th of the work I did the year before.
And by June I was feeling like myself again, but a MUCH stronger, clear-eyed, resilient version of me. I was running my business MY way, making money in a way that felt spacious, fulfilling and in alignment.
I spent a lot of time talking to God, and He showed me what it means to have utter faith in the midst of trials. I had never fully relied on God to get me through hard times before, but this time all I could do was surrender.
Sweet, sweet surrender.
So I didn't make $1.4 million in 2016.
I didn't even crack a million.
I didn't come close.
(I ended with $350K in sales and about half in take-home.)
But what I did get was so much better.
I found my purpose in such a big way in 2016. I now know that I'm meant to serve deeply. I found God's bigger calling for my life, which is WAY better than what I originally thought it would look like.
I'm meant to show women how to work smarter, and teach them how to do less with intention, so they can live a more fulfilled life, instead of questioning themselves or feeling fearful.
Because no matter what life throws at you, come hell or high water, you don't need to crumble at the site of a storm. And you most certainly do NOT need to do it all.
Even though I felt like a big, fat failure looking at my goal sheet from that day on the brown, plasticky couch...
I feel victorious on the inside.
This world is constantly screaming at us from every angle. It tells us to do more, be more, have more and achieve more... and often times, we neglect to stop and ask ourselves:
"Is this what I really want?"
Because most times, it isn't what we want at all.
But we go along and play by everyone else's rules...
we get sucked into the lies of social media and the perceived perfection that isn't real at all.
And then we feel like a failure when real life circumstances throw us off or stall our progress. When things are HARD and when we can't keep it together, we blame ourselves.
So this year, in 2017, my commitment to myself is to continue to do less and say no to anything that doesn't 100% align with my core values and convictions.
Because no amount of money can mask what isn't in alignment.
I won't apologize for it. And I won't compare my process to someone else's progress.
And I vow to give as much grace as I can possibly muster up, to myself and to everyone around me.
Because we're all on our own individual journey, and each of us is pressing on in our own way.
Will you join me?
P.S. If you want more behind-the-scenes, raw, real stories about being an entrepreneur and building a business, would you let me know in the comments? Or reach out? I'd love to know so I can keep sharing!
P.P.S. Because I know you're wondering... don't worry, all is good now with those bridesmaids :)