Our founder, Alison Gilbert, talks with Ladies Get Paid founder, Claire Wasserman, and Rachel Higgins, head of operations of leading branding agency, Red Antler, about how to start, grow and run a business.
We’ve entered a new era of living and doing business.
Evolved beyond an economy driven by machine factory work and empowered by the access to information through the powers of the interweb, we’ve advanced and are in the Digital Revolution.
Layer on top of this that by 2020, according to a report by Intuit, an estimated 40%+ of our workforce will be made up of contractors, freelancers and independents. These numbers don’t include people who already identify as entrepreneurs or business owners, making the group of us “doing-our-own-thing” folks even larger.
In the era we’re in now, we can more easily seek out the information to explore our curiosities, self-learn, and self-teach (thank you YouTube, Google, Lynda.com and so forth). The barrier of entry to start something that could in some way / shape / form become a source of income, is minimal or basically zero. All this makes side hustles, creative projects, and developing a “diversified work portfolio” an exciting and approachable path to financial and creative freedom that many are choosing (63% to be exact).
And while a bunch of folks around us are opting, proactively, to live the “diversified work life,” there’s also a growing number of people who are having to do so out of necessity. More and more corporations are replacing full-time roles with part-time ones or replacing roles all-together with automation.
Whether by election or because of external pressures of the changes around us, we are increasingly becoming entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial as a fundamental approach for living. Put another way: that 40% and growing number of us living the independent life are becoming leaders of our own Personal Incs., and we are setting a precedent for a new way of building a an economy in which achieving business and personal aims are mutually inclusive.
DEFINITION OF A PERSONAL INC. LEADER
Let’s dig a little deeper on who the Personal Inc. Leader is.
The Personal Inc. Leader is someone who is building a product or service or a hybrid of both with the main aim of: fulfilling personal desires, emotional needs and financial gains, all together.
The Personal Inc. Leader overlaps with a traditional Startup Owner in having a business building mindset and she overlaps with the Freelancer / Independent in being motivated by freedom and flexibility:
The Personal Inc. Leader is an evolution of what we may know as the “lifestyle entrepreneur” or the “lifestyle business owner.” She shares with the lifestyle business owner a desire for a certain income and the creation of a certain lifestyle. Where the Personal Inc. Leader goes a step further is to root herself in a bigger mission, a larger-than-self aim. She’s in pursuit of a lifestyle, yes, and also, to transcend herself, to make a bigger, ripple-effect change in the community around her (and beyond).
It’s a powerful mindset, The Personal Inc. mindset, it’s one in which homing in on and channeling our individual strengths, motivations, feelings, goals, desires — a pursuit of fulfillment — is the fundamental building block to the venture, project or business that one builds. It’s equally invigorating that a growing half of us share this mindset or subscribe to this philosophy of growth. We are a part of a universal and evolving experience and shift in our economy.
With this growing half of us becoming Personal Inc. Leaders, comes both a boon in opportunity and a corresponding set of challenges. The opportunities are: creative and emotional fulfillment and more personal control over financial outcomes. As far as challenges go, there‘s actually only one main catch-all challenge: differentiation. With the growing number of us, we’re becoming a crowd and we, more than ever, need to become excellent at differentiating ourselves to perpetuate the growth we seek.
The awesome news, though? We already come differentiated. The fact that we are human with our own DNA, upbringing, proclivities, desires, motivations, strengths, experiences, and so forth, makes our task in differentiating less about developing those differentiators, but rather, a task in getting clear on and articulating what differentiators already lie within us.
The competitive edge for the Personal Inc. is the individual. More directly put, the competitive advantage for the Personal Inc. is YOU. Engaging in a fierce exercise of introspection with ourselves is the necessary step and ongoing act of self-awareness raising and self-articulating that needs to be done. When we are able to articulate to ourselves what makes us distinctive, we’re able to express that authenticity outward, breed trust from connecting with others from a place of truth and build a likeminded community that supports and fuels us to make the things we want to happen, happen.
We created this single page strategy template to help you build a venture or project with your strengths and personal motivations as the fundamental foundation to your plan.
We find there are a lot of resources out there that help entrepreneurs hone their idea is and less resources geared toward action. We designed this blueprint with the intent of putting your idea into motion in an organized, streamlined and actionable way.
Why the name Big Whisper? Big Whisper is the collective feeling, intuition, and voice inside us that sometimes we don’t even realize is there but that is consciously and unconsciously guiding us to where we go. We believe a business built on listening to, honing in on and channeling your big whisper is a business that will both fulfill you and make the positive impact you seek to make.
Looking to build your own Big Whisper Blueprint? Check out our Pop-Up Incubator to make yours and/or get in touch to explore our coaching offerings.
When I was promoted to my first senior management position, I remember being hit with an acute pang of anxiety. It was a very specific kind of anxiety. Not the kind I was used to--like I drank way too much caffeine which resulting in a million little jumping beans having a dance party in my stomach. No, this was a different anxiety. This was an anxiety in my head--a swirl of questions, thoughts and concerns filling up all the crevices of my brain space like fresh, thick concrete being poured into a new sidewalk settling into the cracks.
I had all these questions: How was I supposed to ensure the success of the team? How was I supposed to carve out time for my own professional development? How would I be able to garner and maintain the respect of my colleagues in this new position? What does success look like for this role?
My anxiety was a manifestation of so many questions to which I didn’t have the answers. It was signaling an alert with the message “the way that you’ve been operating has got to change if you're going to be successful with this next step.”
"The way that you've been operating has got to change if you're going to be successful with this next step."
The promotion sparked a seismic shift in my self-awareness. It was because of that experience, wading through those questions full of unknowns, that I became incisively aware of what I did not know.
Marshall Goldsmith’s book What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There was able to articulate what I had been feeling intuitively during that time: in order for me to gracefully progress in my new role I needed to change a lot of the way I had been operating up until that point.
The truth is…we all don’t know what we don’t know. We are changing at every moment of every day. While sometimes we have big milestones help us sharpen our consciousness, we need to help ourselves be our own milestone creators and be attune to those everyday moments that signal a shift and figure out how to effectively navigate through what’s next.
"The truth is...we all don't know what we don't know."
When you find yourself experiencing a change or with a quiet moment for reflection, ask yourself: “What got you to today? What’s going to get you to tomorrow?”.
"What’s your overall goal?”
It's the first question I ask any entrepreneur, client, friend, (just about anyone) who is in the midst of a career transition or looking to start or grow a venture. I follow it up with, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? Life-wise.” The question is basic and BIG.
But answering that question, or at the very least attempting to answer that question, creates clarity; crystal clear or not, it's an important step in the right direction to figuring out Life with a capital "L." And guess what? Your business is part of that Life. So before nailing down a business mission, start with your life goals.
You don’t have to have the destination 100% set (if you do, awesome) but you do need a map so that when you get lost or head down a path less traveled and find yourself in parts unknown (which, is inevitable and healthy) you have a map to consult--to help you redirect and continue on.
Answer these 12 BIG LIFE questions and you'll find that in the process you'll get further clarity on your business mission as well.
1. Visualize yourself in 10 years--what do you see for yourself? What/who do you see yourself surrounded with? What do you see yourself doing?
2. What do you feel the most fearful of right now?
3. What are you willing to sacrifice to stay true to you? What are you okay saying “no” to?
4. What areas of your life are humming?
5. What areas of your life do you want to make changes in?
6. What do you wish you were doing more of that makes you happy?
7. What kinds of problems do you enjoy solving the most?
8. What about you makes you uniquely you?
9. What are your values?
10. Who are some other people in your life that you admire? Why?
11. What are some commonalities in the people that you are drawn to?
12. What aspects of who you are do people find energizing?
This post was originally published on Create + Cultivate.
I’ve worked on all sorts of businesses with different people, personality types, and motivations. A through line with all of them: you have to pay attention to the small stuff, because the small stuff can turn into the big stuff. Molehills to mountains, as they say. And it's not great to be stuck on top of Everest with no gear.
Here are eight small issues you could be overlooking that have much bigger implications if not addressed sooner than later.
1. You haven’t faced your fears or at the very least surfaced what those fears are.
Any person who starts a business has fears, insecurities, triggers. Having a really straight talk conversation with yourself and writing down what your fears are will get them out of your head and onto paper (physical or digital). A lot of times these fears, insecurities, triggers are intuitive sensations that we don’t have language for. They can creep up without us realizing and unconsciously sabotage us. Digging deep, bringing those fears to the surface and recording what they are, forces you to to create language for them so that as they pop up along the way, and they will, you will recognize them more easily and take them head on.
2. You haven’t decided WHY you actually want to build this business.
Having an idea, knowing you’ve got the ability to execute it: all great stuff. But have you asked yourself what you want your business to do for YOU in the future? Thinking through and jotting down how your business fits into your overall life mission (determining what your life mission is in the process) is hugely important. This is a big question to answer but even taking a stab at answering it will be a helpful tool to in you connecting your business effort with a clearer purpose, so that you can do what’s right for YOU and get quicker into solving the problem at hand as you face different business challenges in the future.
3. You haven’t incorporated resting and recharging into your strategy.
You haven’t made “whitespace time” a priority. I’ve seen a lot of owners fill their time with busy-ness--they equate constant movement with progress. All that go, go go energy is good for nothing if you’re not also balancing it with some chill, chill, chill energy to regroup, let things settle in, and give your business building muscles a chance to recharge. At the beginning of your business determine how you’re going to build “whitespace time” into your strategy. Otherwise, say hello to burnout.
"You need to make whitespace time a priority."
4. You haven’t thought about how you’re going to make money.
You have a business idea. You even know how to market it. You’ve got the network to start spreading the word and you’ve got the messaging and your target audience down pat. But have you thought about how you’re going to make money? Building that audience is one thing. Making money is another. Build your business with money and profits on the brain right out the gate. Taking the time to put together a financial plan--even if it’s rough and dirty--that can evolve as your business evolves will help you keep the lights on and set your business up for more sustainable growth.
5. You’ve made someone a cofounder when they shouldn’t be.
There are a lot of reasons why I’ve seen this happen. Some business owners have been scared or didn’t realize they were scared to go at building their business alone (see #1-- if the person maybe knew this was a fear they would’ve probably been able to manage this) so they bring on a cofounder. Sometimes people make someone a cofounder because they don’t have money to compensate them as an employee so they make up for it in giving them cofounder status. Whatever the reason is, make sure you’re bringing on a cofounder to augment your business, not satisfy an insecurity or out of not being able to pay (there are other creative ways to compensate--apprenticeship, barter, etc.!).-- you won’t be setting up that person nor yourself nor your business for success if they’re brought on for any other reason besides being a strategic leadership partner.
"Business mistake: You’ve made someone a cofounder when they shouldn’t be."
6. You haven’t decided what you’re okay saying no to.
Your time is a precious commodity. And you’re one person. If you haven’t figured out what you’re okay saying no to, next thing you know your calendar is chock-full and you’re taking coffees with people without really knowing how to maximize your java date. Being able to turn a conversation into something that will help you grow your business is a skill. But so is saying no to meetings that don't make sense. You need to focus on the more important aspects of your business that deserve your attention. Get laser focused on what you’re going to say “no” to (nicely of course).
7. You haven’t determined who to go to for what.
Think through the strengths of the people in your network and uncover how they can help you. This will help you be clearer and more strategic in your asks of them. People like to help but don’t waste the wrong ask on the right person.
8. You haven’t written any of your plans down.
If you’re starting a business chances are you’ve been thinking about it for some time and you’ve finally gotten to a place where you’re ready to pull the trigger. You’re ready to take that leap. Pause and jot down, even quickly, what your current plan is. You don’t have to do a full-fledged strategy; it doesn’t have to be fancy. Writing down what success looks like for your first week, month, year will help you avoid blockages going forward--this is not only a great way to clarify your thinking it’s a great way of firming up the commitment to yourself.
This post was originally published on Create + Cultivate.