When I set up my very first website, my only goal was to get paid for doing work that I loved and that exercised a variety of my skills. I knew I had the power to help cool people and organizations if only they’d give me a chance.
I hustled to get that first website humming and the community around it growing. I honed my skills and developed a set of services. Over time, I learned how to price my work and package my time so that I was earning a good living from the work I was doing.
In many ways, I was living the dream.
But I struggled to close a persistent gap between where I was at and where I really wanted to be.
All around me, I could see colleagues who had developed strong businesses that allowed them to take considerable time off, write books, craft valuable intellectual property, and lead teams of talented people. I was jealous.
(Side note: jealousy is often a tip-off toward what we really want.)
I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t making it happen. Goodness knows I was trying.
In hindsight, I recognize that my goals didn’t match my mindset.
I was approaching my business—and its growth—all wrong. And, I watch digital small business owners like you do the same thing ever day.
Here’s what I mean:
When I started my business, the only thing I knew was being an employee. You do the job and you get paid. You do more than the job and you move up. Consistent, hard work—according to the rule book—pays off in advancement.
But in entrepreneurship, there is no rule book. There is no ladder to move up rung-by-rung. There is no one deeming your consistent hard work worthy of bigger rewards.
You need to shift your thinking from the Self-Employment Mindset to the Business Owner Mindset. Here are just some of the core differences:
A Self-Employee believes:
A Business Owner believes:
I hope you can see that as your mindset transforms from Self-Employment to Business Owner, your actions inevitably change, as well.
If you stop believing that hiring help takes money out of your pocket and start believing that hiring help grows your bottom line, you look for opportunities to delegate or grow your operations because each new team member represents additional capacity and earning.
If you stop believing that harder work pays more and start believing that smarter work pays more, you stop settling for goals that require you to push harder and start setting goals that require you to think differently.
The reason we all initially fall into the Self-Employment Mindset—with very few exceptions—is that this is what our previous jobs have taught us to do. When I was still working as a retail manager for Borders Books & Music, I got paid for 40 hours per week but was expected to schedule myself for 50-60. If someone dropped the ball, it was my job to pick it up—not to change the system so it didn’t happen again.
Look back at your own work history and you’ll see all the places you’ve been trained to sell yourself short as a business owner. It’s no wonder that your business has suffered as you have tried to just create a job that’s a little better and a little more fulfilling than what you had before.
Are the goals that you have—that 2-year, 5-year, or 10-year vision you keep trying to work towards—the goals of someone who is self-employed or someone who is a business owner?
Can you possibly achieve what you’ve set out to achieve with the mindset you have now?
Have you kept your goals small because you didn’t know how to approach your business in any other way?
Have you maintained the status quo because you thought you were somehow different from people who have achieved so much more?
I ask these hard questions of you because they are questions I have asked of myself almost every day for the last few years. I have changed my mindset by sitting with the discomfort of these questions over and over again.
I’ve allowed myself to believe—to know, to own—the fact that I can build the kind of business I choose to build, no matter what that looks like.
And, I want that for you too.
Over and over again, I’m confronted with audiences, colleagues, and clients that have goals mismatched to their mindsets.
There’s no amount of tactical learning that will “fix” your business problems if your mindset is creating an insurmountable gap between where you’re at and where you want to be.
Your next step is to identify the roadblocks to your goals that you’re facing in your business right now and examine them from the Business Owner Mindset point-of-view.
Consider how you would attempt to solve those problems differently if you weren’t the only person who could solve them or if you could completely change the way things were done to avoid the problem in the first place.
The right mindset is essential to your success and your growth. Until you get that right, everything you’ve learned about running and growing your business isn’t as useful as it could be—and your goals will continue to be out of reach.
For more on how to align your goals with your business and create plans that get the smart work done, check out my brand new CreativeLive class, Goal-Setting & Planning to Grow Your Standout Business, on Tuesday, April 4.
And for more ways to activate the right mindset to grow your business, join CoCommercial—the business association for digital small businesses—where I’m sharing exclusive, members-only content to prepare you for this new class. Click here to start your free trial.