Some people are surprised to hear that my first venture into the entrepreneurial space wasn’t my marketing agency.
I started an events linen rental company.
After having a terrible experience with the chair cover rentals we purchased for our wedding, I distinctly remember having the thought while shopping at Target, “I could do this SO much better than that company. I would treat customers SO much better.”
And Luxe Linen and Events was born back in 2009. It went well. I was proud of it. But after marketing my services and providing linen rentals for a handful of weddings, I realized I hated it.
I didn’t want to store thousands of wrinkly chair linens in my basement. I didn’t want to go to the laundry mat armed with bleach and ready to face a full day of washing and folding hundreds of chair covers at a time. And I certainly never, ever again wanted to iron and hang that many chair covers or cloth napkins again.
I learned Lesson Number One really, really quickly.
LESSON 1: Just because I CAN do something, doesn’t mean I should.
I’m sure you can relate if you’ve got any level of multi-passionate-ism in you. You see a beautiful design and you think “Oh, I would love to be a designer.” You see well-written copy and you think, “Oh, I could totally write copy.” And the list goes on.
This is where it becomes KEY to know your WHY and what truly lights you up inside, and focus on the feelings your business gives you (freedom, creative-expression, impact..) and realize that YES, you could launch multiple businesses in many different fields, but when you spread yourself too thin, it becomes really hard to become the best in ONE thing.
LESSON 2: I had no idea how much confidence would affect my business.
About five years in to owning a business, I realized I had confidence “issues”. I thought, “But I’m an extrovert. I LOVE people! I am certainly a confident person, right?” Not necessarily true. Turns out true self-love and innate confidence can be a deeply-rooted issue, and one I’ve been working through since it recently became apparent.
Confidence issues (for me), showed up as playing small and calling it humility.
For me, confidence issues looked like putting off client responses because I would rather ghost them than not have the perfect answer to their strategy questions. I’m mortified now thinking about how long it took me to respond on some projects. I realized I was placing my personal value on my clients’ results instead of crafting an amazing experience.
(Side note: At least in marketing, people will remember the way you made them feel far more than the amount of leads you brought in for them.)
Back to the confidence thing.
I subconsciously told myself: “I don’t want to shine too brightly because I might make someone else feel back about themselves.”
Again, not true.
In fact, I even wanted to name my first course “Humble Beginnings Academy”.
Sigh. Oh, Allie.
I’ve realized that by shining as brightly as I can and playing as big as I’m currently able actually does the opposite. It inspires and lifts those around me to unlock their potential and become the best versions of themselves, too.
My lack of confidence reared it’s head in other ways, too. It held me back from admitting who I really wanted to work with. It played ugly imposter-syndrome games and probably cost me A LOT of money while I was busy purchasing courses and thinking I just needed to learn “a little bit more” before owning my expertise and stepping up to the plate with the heavy-hitters.
I knew enough already.
In sales conversations, my self-doubt spoke up and said “My cost is $1200.”, when in my head I knew I wanted to say $3000. (Then unknowingly resented the client for “only paying $1200”. That wasn’t cool of me, either.)
In social business settings with my peers, my lack of self-confidence made me shrink and act as though I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I so distinctly remember my first business retreat as a personal brand (Oh, hey Boss Moms!), sitting at a table of amazing women in San Diego and feeling so insignificant, small and confused amongst future moguls as I bounced around ideas, even though IN MY CORE, I knew exactly what I wanted. I just didn’t believe in my ability to TAKE IT.
(Now, part of the story about that specific retreat is that I had a 6 week old baby, and my husband and I had just driven 30+ hours across the United States to get to this conference with all three kids and I was emotionally drained and exhausted… but this wouldn’t be the last time I would shrink amongst strong personalities in the industry. Also, remind me to tell you the story of meeting Pat Flynn while hooked up to my breast pump sometime…)
I’ve realized that action is the predecessor for confidence, and it certainly doesn’t come over night. I’ve recognized this in myself and it’s been a work in progress ever since.
And I’ve noticed this pattern amongst my clients, too. Confidence plays such an integral role in everything we do as business owners. And it’s certainly not something that’s innate to most of us. It takes practice and major self-love.
I’m not talking bath salts and pedicure self-love. I mean like DEEP, unconditional, meet yourself where you’re at and love the amazing, gritty inner-workings of your spirit and mind kinda self-love.
I’m talking about forgiving yourself for your short comings and understanding that you have always done the best you could with the resources you had available at the time. Forgiving yourself for stupid decisions. Acknowledging your past pains and mentally time traveling (that’s a thing) to give yourself NOW what you needed then.
You build up self-confidence brick by brick, and maybe some of you already have a great foundation of self-confidence and just need to white wash those bricks (total Fixer Upper fangirl moment) in order to keep kicking ass in your business, and that’s awesome. Some of you might be starting with laying that first brick.
And that’s okay, too.
The first step is recognizing where and how it shows up for you, and then honoring yourself enough to take action towards the thing you truly want and know that confidence will come as you go.
Confidence comes from showing up for yourself. It comes from following your gut (OH HAAAY INTUITION), and it comes from DWYSYWD (Doing What You Say You Will Do). When you stop breaking promises to yourself and stop telling yourself “I will start TOMORROW”, that’s when the magic truly happens
LESSON 3: I wish I had just effing started. Way sooner.
I’m finally doing what I want to be doing – coaching and teaching. I’ve wanted to build a community and love them fiercely for over five years. Ever since I watched my first Liz Benny social media webinar back in like 2013. (Enter more “I could totally do this” thoughts.)
But that’s where it stopped.
I didn’t do it.
I kept selling graphic design freelance services for 35 bucks an hour and applying for a billion jobs on Upwork. (Face palm.)
If I had started five years ago, who even knows where I’d be now.
But I didn’t. And, back to my previous point about confidence, I just have to assume that I did the best I could at the time with the resources I had available to me then.
I had to be there before I could be here.
And that’s okay.
Though I do wish I had been more intentional with my actions and gotten to work a little faster. Or hired the right coaches to help me get there.
Which brings me to my next lesson…
LESSON 4: Choose your mentors carefully.
I once had a business coach (and one whom I was paying a crap-ton of money) take a photo of our video call for her Instagram, asking me to flash a hash tag symbol with my hands, then saying “Wait, I’m not sure I should post this because your nails aren’t done.”
You have GOT to be kidding me.
Hiring a coach, consultant or mentor is an investment, but the right one can save you time AND money in the long run.
Interview, stalk, follow, and interact with them for a long time before making your decision.
You’ve got a lot of options. Choose carefully.
I’ve found that the best coaches I’ve hired are ones who had similar businesses to where I would eventually like to be. Whether we mean to or not, our own experience are so subjective to the information we share. We see the world through our own experiences and project accordingly, and the more my mentor’s vision aligned with my own, the better the result achieved while working with them.
LESSON 5: The details matter so much less than the relationships.
I spent months designing and redesigning my website.
I’ve renamed my Facebook group at least five times.
I’ve pivoted. I’ve obsessed.
I’ve lost momentum.
The named and renamed programs and groups matter SO MUCH LESS than the relationships I’ve built with the humans within them, and I wish I had realized that sooner.
The phases I experienced the most growth and momentum within have always been the time frame in which I was focused on getting to KNOW the people.
I know I’m not done learning yet (and hopefully I never will be) and I promise I’ll keep sharing my journey along the way. Remember that you are not alone, no matter where you are on YOUR journey. You are loved and I’m cheering for you!
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Thanks for being the best part of my business,