Last week I was speaking to a beautiful, talented young woman just starting her own business.
I recommended for her to read Lessons of a Lipstick Queen by Poppy King.
I recommended it because I love Poppy’s super engaging, creative way of talking about building a business.
Poppy has the perfect description of me + my coaching business right now
“If you have ever lived with a cat, you may have seen them moving round and round in a circle before deciding exactly where to sit. Once they’ve picked a spot, though, you can’t budge them. That’s what a marketing point of view should be like. Circle around the vicinity where you are looking to market, then decide on what it is you are saying, and sit on it.” (Poppy King)
Me (with short hair) and Tigger while on the trip of a lifetime. One of the families I worked with when I had my school, took me to Disneyland. Their dad really didn’t want to go to and I love Disneyland so I offered to go in his place.
I’m like that cat moving round and round my coaching business not having decided exactly where to sit yet.
I have so many interests and gifts in business and life. I’m in that stage of growing my new business as a coach where I’m trying things on to see if I like them.
Sometimes I feel like I’m bouncing around with Tigger!
Exactly how do I want to niche? (It’s recommended, of course…niche-ing) Picking that one perfect little zone of genius that only you can really serve in the unique way that you uniquely possess.
My (adult) History In Biz
When I started Musicalia I resisted niche-ing. Musicalia wasn’t a music school in the beginning, it was an Educational Service.
I officially registered my business as ‘Musicalia Educational Services’. The Musicalia bit came from a dream I’d had and even though I didn’t know exactly what I’d do in my business I knew for sure it would have the name “musicalia” in it.
I offered music lessons and creativity classes for adults as well as multi-generational music workshops, professional development workshops for classroom teachers, worked as a travelling consultant to school districts, accepted commissions for book-binding projects and large scale acrylic paintings.
A strange mix I know but I was trying to figure out how to break out of my union-controlled teaching position in the school district and was literally throwing everything into the mix.
I was circling. Big time.
It just happened that I was teaching a baby music class for my 1 year-old nephew on Saturday mornings as a favour to my sister. Those classes grew exponentially over an 18- month period (like from 3 babies to 120) and I ended up not having time for all that other stuff. In the end, I had to niche and give the rest of it up.
I had circled around my community to see which of my gifts would be most attractive and also create an income.
That’s how my music school was born. Organically. So organically, I had quite a few people tell me to ‘grow up’ and go back to my real job. That was over 2 decades ago so clearly I didn’t listen to them.
The music school is now closed and I’m trying to determine which of my gifts will be most outwardly useful AND self-delighting now?
My Current Circling Thoughts
Will I coach only women?
Will I focus only on Forgiveness? see…Forgiveness House
Will I include programs on money? (I LOVE talking about money mindset, wealth building and money healing so I’m definitely leaning to creating something here.)
Will I include only self-study programs? 1:1 coaching? group coaching too?
Will I include my gifts at creativity coaching?
Will I ONLY focus on business coaching…hmmm…no, I think not…I need my coaching to be connected to something heartfelt. Straight biz doesn’t do it for me.
Will I work only with beginners? Women over 40? Under 40? With creatives? With folks who need emotional relief? Will I do energy work…only? Or as part of my life coaching?
Where will I feel good?
Where can I give from my heart?
Where do others think I serve best?
Where will I make the most money?
Will I use my intuitive gifts? Can I help but use them?
I’m circling…like that cat.
And the young woman I spoke to last week sent me a message.
“I loved talking to you. You really have something special that resonated with me so much, so thank you. So happy you reached out to me.”
I spoke with many people last week. It’s part of my circling. My intuitive gifts had me reaching out to this woman because I knew she needed an ear. Most people contact me though:)
The one thing I know for sure right now is I LOVE talking to people about their lives AND businesses. I feel completely awake when I do. I feel like I’m on purpose and doing something I should be doing.
- talking to people who really want to workshop and express their thoughts
- being the person with the puzzle-solving brain
- talking to people who love my ‘intuitive hits’
- those working jam-session strategy sessions full of ideas, brainstorms and possibility for other people’s businesses
- the energy created by problem solving and how spent I feel afterward
- sitting with folks who are in pain, hearing their heart’s expression, their fears, their challenges, supporting them as they move back to center
- the ease of energy healing work
- meeting new people
- that my client base is international now (wow)
Are you circling?
Or do you know exactly what you’re marketing and centered on in your biz?
I’d love to know exactly what YOU do.
Hopefully you will be able to leave a link to your website if you have one. See you in the comments!
I’ve been deep in planning (for a few months) which as most of us know is code for de-cluttering, reorganizing, getting clear and making changes.
What I always forget is that sometimes deep planning necessitates grieving and letting go. Those sticky emotions take time. In my opinion more time than I wish them to take. I’m an action-taker and that’s my comfort zone.
Recently I said good-bye to a dear friend who has left 3 children and a husband after a brief terminal illness. She was a high school friend and the one I would run to when I ran away from home after a teenage fight with my mom. Her illness and passing re-surfaced much emotional residue from that time in my life.
On the “heals” of her death was the realization of how much I am still grieving the closing of my music and movement school
(2 years ago this month)
and recognizing how much I miss the community I had created over 2 decades with the children and moms I used to see weekly.
Truly feeling how different my life is. Much less busy-ness. More quiet time. A little more lonely time. Less dancing, singing and full-on play.
It’s just stuff, right?
I had an enormous collection of instruments that were designed and specially created for young children. I’ve been selling the instruments and movement props over these few months and every time I watch someone walk away with “their” loot…I go in to shock and it takes me a week or two to un-numb myself.
These photos show a fraction of what was there. There was another whole storage area I don’t have pics for.
There was a vibrant green entrance, a waiting area, reading nook, kitchen and administrative office too (not shown).
While I didn’t close Musicalia simply because I was exhausted (‘cause I was REALLY exhausted) my energy level was a factor in the decision. I was ready to stop hauling equipment, managing hundreds of people, administration, support staff and working 18 hour days. I was ready for a life with less of a load.
It’s been 2 years since the closing and I am finally beginning to notice a positive shift in my energy levels. I can stay up later. I can read and study and take in new information. I’m not drained and exhausted all the time.
I’ve had forgiveness work to do around the drama with the landlords of the building I was renting during that time.
They raised the rent by over 30% in one year after I had invested tens of thousands of dollars renovating a slum-landlord-type space.
They decided now that it was so lovely (and had a heat pump, new floors, lighting, new walls, new bathroom, security system and thermal security window treatments and EVERYTHING was to fire codes) it was worth more so they wanted more. I rented + renovated the space thinking I’d be there for at least 15 years.
Pursue legal means? It would have defeated the purpose of being able to afford the space and keep doing the work. In the end, I decided to look at the good that could come out of closing the chapter on two decades of my life.
I had dreamed of having more time for my husband and friends. I thought about what I could do with this new chapter coming. I could start painting again or I could create a new business…maybe an online business. I could work less, carry a lighter teaching load in some other way and maybe have a day or two off every week.
Then, I watched my entire life’s work be sold off…
Then, I watched my entire life’s work be sold off, stored and otherwise gifted to organizations in my town. It felt as though my own child had died. I still haven’t been able to part with all the puppets. I have hundreds and hundreds of stunningly beautiful puppets. I know they’ll have to be sold too. Sad.
I still teach but only part-time and not groups only private lessons and not in my own studio but in children’s homes. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I’m not letting go so easily? I do need a reliable income as after I’d closed the school, my husband informed me our finances were not what I had been led to believe. More grief.
All this grief takes time to sort through. Sometimes I think I’m okay. It’s been 2 years, right? Should be getting over it by now… and then I meet a parent of one of my students on the beach while I walk the dog and I end up in a puddle of tears while they tell me how much they appreciated what I had built in the community.
In fact, the tears have been streaming the entire time I’ve been writing this post. I walk away from the writing and then come back to write the next day and it starts again.
Too much grief
I know this is where my writer’s block was stemming from. Too much grief.
It is so much easier to step into a new life, to keep stepping out, keep working, continue building my coaching practice and doing real world things with real people. Take action in the direction away from pain.
Too close to sadness
Writing brings me too close to my sadness. It requires a kind of engaged stillness that releases pain and I don’t really want this blog to be entirely about pain. I would like to write about something other than pain and yet this is where I seem to need to be right now.
I enrolled in a grief course last fall. In Second Firsts I learned that actually stepping into a new life IS the way out of grief. I don’t think it’s really worked for me the way I had hoped though. The sadness is obviously still there inhibiting me and moving away from it seems to magnify it somehow.
How to embody sadness
Lately, I’ve decided to embody the sadness. Let it really rise up. Let in inhabit my whole being and BREATHE it in.
This morning I woke up in the clutches of ‘something’ so I just lay there and I breathed and watched as the numbness and grief and immobilization of my body gradually rolled away until I felt lighter and clearer.
Then I was up out of bed to finish writing this post. Something I haven’t been able to do for months. So thanks for reading:)
And if you’re interested in a little more….
In the spirit of stepping forward…… forgiveness is my speciality
I’m almost ready to launch Forgiveness House. It’s a 5-week Online Retreat for women. It’s one of the areas of life I REALLY know well. I started having dreams (literal nighttime dreams) about it in March of of 2013 and knew right away I was supposed to create this. I’ve been following spiritual breadcrumbs ever since.
I know I’ll be able to help women who want to create more vibrant lives and I’ve been supporting women in this work for almost 30 years.
This new program is an extension of what I’ve been doing naturally most of my life.
Hop on the mailing list…I’ll send you info as soon as Forgiveness House is ready.
Do you know someone who may be interested? Please pass this info on. I’ll be keeping the price point very low (around $250 and will include a 1:1 session with me) for this first round.
1. Recognize that you are blocked. (There may be some crankiness involved)
2. Accept that you are blocked. (There are some really good reasons you are blocked)
3. Do some forgiveness work on some area of your life. (This will release some feel good feelings that will remind you you are not always cranky and blocked even if there are good reasons for it)
4. Get a haircut. (There’s no need to look bad while you have writer’s block…especially if the block goes on for months)
4. Ask someone for help. (Preferably someone who helps you get in touch with with your protective inner selves AND your creative inner selves). Thanks, Janelle.
5. Just write anything and get going again. (Don’t worry about having an editorial calendar. Don’t worry about being organized. Don’t worry about being profound. Don’t worry about the blog picture. Just do it. You can upload a photo later.)
6. Press PUBLISH.
7. Do something else immediately so you can’t think about what you just did. (I had a conversation with the woman cleaning our house.)
I know, I know…
…you read on everyone else’s blogs that hard work is old school.
Having a biz means you’ll have a load of tasks + be faced with your own fears + doubts + old, familiar, safe mindsets (that must change).
Because you are compelled to create your own biz…the one of your dreams…you are willing to work.
If you are not compelled to work, to make the call, to talk to the person, to create the product, to show up… in order to create your dream…it’s only because of this.
- You have a spiritual/emotional block.
- It’s not the biz of your dreams.
When I founded a music + movement school for children over 2 decades ago, it was work. It was physical work. It was also the first time I consciously chose to create out of a place of trust in the invisible realm of spirit.
People were amazed at my success (no one else was doing what I was doing and this as we know is usually NOT a good thing in biz) and people used to comment on my success. I used to say to them, “I’ve just been so lucky”.
A friend finally took me aside and said,
“Yeah…the harder you work, the luckier you get.
Stop saying it’s luck. You deserve your success. Remember that.
Most people are just not willing to put in the combo effort to spiritually, emotionally + physically call in their success.”
Are you willing to do the spiritual + emotional work? Do you even know how?
I’ve had my own businesses and been self-employed most of my life.
I’ve been surrounded by hard-working folk. Peasant-farmer types.
My mom was a role model for me on how to work hard and get results. She did not model the inner work, the gentle calling-it-in work. She may have done it but she didn’t talk about it and I didn’t see it.
These things I’ve learned on my own. I studied. I read. I paid attention.
What I’ve learned is yes, the physical effort matters and makes a big diff. I have to take action but it’s the inner work that is the magic…that allows me to laugh and enjoy the building process…to see those coincidences, miracles + unexpected lucky times.
If you’re wondering if inner spiritual type work can work for you ask yourself…
1. Was I imaginative as a child?
2. Am I willing to believe my business has a purpose beyond just making money?
Then, write down your vision and imagine it coming to life.
My Secret Tools
Sometimes those daytimers + google calendars + digital checklists just DON’T work!
I am one of those people who LOVES planning…especially on a blank piece of paper. When the paper is clear + blank (+ my Sharpies are close by) my life becomes a potential work of art.
The humdrum can be a victory!
I know this is super low tech…it’s just the absolute best for when I must keep the blinders on and get ‘er done!
It’s my planning grid.
Here’s how to do it. Grid your paper (with colorful pens) and then list the tiny tasks that need to be done. One task inside each square of the grid.
- monthly goals
- when you have multiple businesses like mine and many small tasks you will do almost anything to forget/neglect, yet they do need to be complete daily + weekly
- when your main tasks don’t need to be written down but you are working on a larger project with small steps that need to be done and you’ll not do them (cause you’re too tired) unless they are itemized and easy to see and you have a sense that they can be crossed off with a giant satisfying X
- when you have to be your own accountability partner
- when you are in overwhelm…make a grid with 8 boxes…fill them up with small tasks + be sure to include a self care item like ‘drink water’ in one box and complete. Done. Overwhelm (your inner child) says “look…I did it!”
A grid completely covered with x’s is a rainbow of satisfaction.