It's easy to feel discouraged when you read about business owners overcoming adversity and how women business owners are crushing it on Black Enterprise, Forbes and Essence, only to find out your breakthrough isn't here yet. As an aspiring womanpreneur yourself, you feel so close yet so far away at the same time.
You constantly compare your business to others to figure out what you are doing wrong, often doubting yourself and your God-given gifts, wondering why you don't have that "it factor" like your competitors, or haven't hit 20K followers on social media yet. You constantly check your email… Nothing. Right after you check your email, you log in to your Paypal account only to still find nothing or not enough for you to survive on. Oh, and let's not forget to mention frequently checking social media only to see very little engagement on your posts. You really thought this would be easier because a lot of people are making it look easy and now you are considering calling it quits.
But before you do that, I need you to take a deep breath and read this. Here are 8 questions to ask yourself when your business breakthrough seems like an eternity away:
Are You Being Honest with Yourself?
It is time to stop feeling sorry for yourself and time to be honest with yourself. Are you being consistent? For the last 30-90 days, what have you done consistently in your business that will help you generate revenue?
If you study successful business people, they are usually strategically consistent. Sometimes when I feel stumped in business, I need to take a break and have a heart to heart with myself to find out why I am not being consistent or why I'm not following a plan. As creatives, we can get lost easily. Sometimes, sadly, the only consistent thing I am doing is scrolling on social media instead of putting in the essential work needed to level up. Don't beat yourself up about this, just make the change immediately and analyze if you made progress after the changes have been made.
Are You Trying to Do It All Yourself?
Do you have Superwoman Syndrome and think you can run a business all by yourself? If you do, I have news for you, you are going to burn out. It may not happen today or three months from now, but it will catch up to you. Being a mom, wife, and teacher, I learned this the hard way and like many, when I burnout, I have no choice but to completely shut down.
To add fuel to the fire, you are comparing your business to corporations but you aren't operating like one. Yes, you are great at what you do but you, my love, you are only one person. It may be time to get help. You can't always create greatness alone. Greatness requires a team.
Teamwork makes the dream work isn't just a cute saying. It is the truth.
You may have to partner up with another business owner on a project, look into affiliate marketing, or hire help. Ask yourself who you can work with that will help you scale up.
Are You Operating In Real Time?
Do you have systems in place, or is that newsletter going out when you feel like it and not on automatic? What about the process when people purchase from you? Are you manually sending out confirmation emails and tracking info?
Having systems in place will make your life easier, alleviate burnout, and make your on-boarding process smoother when hiring help. It can get hectic trying to post on social media, edit videos, connect and follow up potential clients, and/or seek partners all at once. Think about the tasks in your life that you can afford to put on automatic. Lastly, batching helps. Set aside a designated task to complete in a specific time frame.
For example, if you are a blogger, you can batch your blog posts by writing out your content in one setting or batching your photos for the month in a day, and so on. When I batch, I am more efficient and it alleviates overwhelmed feelings while keeping me consistent.
Are You Surrounded By Like-Minded People?
Running a business is hard enough but being overwhelmed and not having other business owners to talk to makes things harder.
When I started my business, I quickly learned that entrepreneurship can be very lonely. However, it doesn't have to be. There are many like-minded women that you can connect with locally or online. Some of my closest business besties are women I have met online.
Are You Only Settling for That Free .99?
Do you keep signing up for freebie after freebie and attending this person's free webinar only to be more confused than when you started?
There's a lot of noise on the internet and it can seriously cause you to lose your focus or make you believe that you need everyone and their best friend's program. Let's be real, you need to take action. If you are going to spend the time to attend a webinar, make sure you implement and execute what you learned or don't bother to waste the time to even attend or sign up. This applies to empowerment brunches and workshops too.
You have to do the work.
Sis, all those notes that you're jotting down need to be executed. Keep reading to learn how to get out of the free .99 mindset.
Are You Investing In Your Business?
Usually, when I invest in my business, whether it is taking a class, hiring a coach, or attending a seminar that I paid for, I make more than the investment back and learn a new skill to implement in my business. For example, with a business coach, I am able to execute my vision with their help faster than if I had to do it alone. Sorry to break it to you, but not having money to invest is not an excuse. I say this because we often get caught up in what we don't have before we focus on what we do have.
Both Google and the library are free resources. If you cannot pay for someone to tell you the information, then you have to take the time to research and learn things through trial and error.
Plus, books are inexpensive. There are tons of great business books written by experts that will teach you a lot in a short time. For example, if you need to learn more about copywriting, email marketing, or Facebook ads, there are books that will give you start. Also, there are free agencies that help new and old businesses. The sba.gov is a great resource. Check out entrepreneurial centers at your local universities and colleges. Some of them offer free one-on-one consults and they offer frequent business classes as well.
Who's Holding You Accountable?
Accountability is huge. When working a traditional job, you usually have a supervisor to report to. Typically, you have an annual review. You are held accountable to the company's standards, but when working for yourself, who is holding you accountable for staying on task and operating your business legally and efficiently?
This tip is often avoided, but it is not hard to find an accountability partner. Sometimes you can find another business owner and you two can make an arrangement to check in on each other for free. Accountability makes a significant difference. It keeps you on track and focused.
If The Time Comes, Can You Walk Away Like A Boss?
I truly hope it doesn't have to get to this step, but if it does, then exit like a boss. Remember failing isn't always bad. It brings you closer to your success. Many successful business owners failed numerous times before finally getting it.
Before throwing your hard work away, research if anyone is willing to acquire your business. Don't leave anything out, including your domain name. For example, someone may not want to buy your business, but they may be willing to buy your domain name. Sell it if you are honestly done as opposed to letting the domain host make money off of your hard work when it expires.
When stores go out of business, they usually have a going out of business sale and sell everything down to the fixtures. What makes your business any different? One thing I notice is a lot of online businesses go out of business without a strategy. They don't even let their tribe know. You just go to their website and bluntly find out that it's no longer active or the social media handle no longer exists. Operate as a business until the very end.
I hope you found these tips helpful. I know how hard being an entrepreneur can be, but just know that I am rooting for you. We all can win. Let's stop idolizing what we see and start putting in the work on the things that we don't see. Keep being consistent and keep pushing. The world needs you and your business.
You got this girl, now get back to work.
Featured image by Shutterstock
I remember uncomfortably lying there, silently praying for a miracle.
They were probing around looking for the heartbeat. I looked on the monitor waiting to see some sign of life, anything. I had been to the emergency room a few days prior for spotting, but now it was worse, the spotting turned into cramping and heavy bleeding, which usually is a detrimental warning sign in early pregnancy. These were signs that they told me to look out for on my initial discharge papers. I stopped looking at the monitor because I couldn't take it anymore. When deep down I knew I had lost the baby. The silence and continuous search for a sign of life went on for what seemed like forever…
Finally, the doctor took off the monitor, washed his hands, his face grew solemn as he looked at us and then confirmed that we had lost the baby. At the time, I didn't realize it but he said some of the things that I needed to hear. He sat on the bed and told us that it wasn't our fault. He stated the medical jargon about the statistics but went on to say that it didn't happen because I fell, it didn't happen because we were stressed about money, and it didn't happen if I went out with friends and had drinks prior to finding out that I was pregnant. He just held my hand, passed me tissues, and said that he is sorry and repeated it's not your fault.
I didn't realize how common miscarriages were until I started to experience them. It's a topic that people usually don't speak publically about, but now they are starting to be somewhat normalized (as they should be) with celebrities like Gabrielle Union and more recently Ludacris' wife Eudoxie sharing their experiences going through them. Even men like Lance Gross and Omari Hardwick have come out to discuss the pain of losing a child.
It's really hard to comfort anyone when they experience a loss, but how do you comfort a friend or family member when they feel like they lost it all through a miscarriage? I quickly learned that those ideal comforting words were not so comforting, they were unsettling actually. Here are 4 common words of comfort that you should think twice about saying to someone who has just experienced a miscarriage:
1. "It wasn't meant to be."
Right after our loss, the tension grew in my relationship. We lashed out at one another over the unknown. My boyfriend one day got frustrated with me and told me that God didn't want it to happen and the baby wasn't meant to be.
When those words came out of my then boyfriend's mouth, I honestly didn't know whether to slap him or leave him. It hurt so bad, I thought I was ready to end the relationship. For one, how could he even think that, much less say it? And two, though I do not consider myself to be churchy, I do believe in God and I felt at the time that there was no way that God would want this for anyone. I didn't feel that this was the work of God. My boyfriend expected me to snap out of it and just move on with my life. He wanted his girlfriend back.
You can't tell a woman that has been yearning to have children that the pregnancy wasn't meant to be and expect it to sit well.
Those that desire to be moms yearn to become pregnant and birth babies. Some of us feel that motherhood was what we were put here to do so how dare someone tell us that it wasn't meant to be.
2. "That's normal."
Save the statistics. Please don't play the probability game when someone is going through this. Yes, 1 in 4 women experience a miscarriage. I remember reading that statistic over and over again in the very limited child loss section of the What to Expect When Expecting book as my symptoms started to get worse. Yes, many women go on to have normal pregnancies and healthy babies after their first miscarriage. Hearing these words don't make things better at the moment though.
What many fail to realize is that nothing about a miscarriage feels normal. It actually feels the opposite.
The fact that one day you go into a doctor's office with a life inside of you and on another random day you leave after just finding out that the life that was supposed to be growing inside of you has perished.You leave feeling an unexplainable emptiness. The reason why this is so insensitive is that what we are going through at the time doesn't seem real- it's a nightmare. It's hard to comprehend. Furthermore, we are not just numbers. We are actually people with feelings and it takes time to even try to normalize it especially since no one really talks about what is so "normal."
3. "Try again."
When I decided to share my loss with certain people, they would instantly tell me to try again. This felt like I was being brushed off. This saying is more gratifying to the person saying it because they deem it as an instant solution to the problem. I literally just lost a baby, so trying again was the last thing on my mind. I was mourning this baby. Telling me to try again is like telling me to buy another pet fish. As if the newly conceived baby could replace the one that was lost.
When a woman has a miscarriage, she has the right to grieve that child.
Though she may worry about being able to conceive in the future, please be empathetic to the fact that she did just lose her unborn child and that child cannot be replaced with another one. I am not saying not to later encourage her to try again if that's what she expresses she wants, but be cognizant of the time period. If she just lost a baby, you need to be there for her instead of pushing her to do something that she cannot mentally or physically fathom. Also, be aware of her specific situation, some women have tried numerous times and have experienced repeated miscarriages Some women are told that their chance of conception is unlikely so your definition of trying is not only insensitive it may be unrealistic. Lastly, be mindful that the miscarried mom is grieving what could have been.
4. "The baby's in a better place."
This one baffles me and maybe it's a bit selfish, but what better place is there to be for a baby than with its mother in her loving arms? This saying is hurtful period and I admit after having my first miscarriage, I stopped saying this to people that experienced any loss cause I realized how insensitive it can be. If you want to get biblical, you can let the person know that you are praying for them and really pray for them as opposed to just saying it cause it sounds nice.
Pray for their healing, pray for their well-being, and pray that their prayers are answered.
Coming from a woman who has experienced miscarriages, I've learned the best thing that you can do is tell someone that you are sorry for them, be compassionate and listen to them, give them as much time as they need to grieve and try to be there for them. Other helpful advice that was given to me during this difficult time was to remember that the dad is hurting too and to try not to ostracize him during this difficult time.
Most importantly, for my miscarried mamas, don't let others tell you how you should feel or move forward, you do what you feel you have to do to heal.
And for everyone else, save those common phrases and speak compassionately from the heart.
Featured image by Shutterstock