A bit of good news during this dark time (which I will *totally* take, and I hope it brightens your day, too): tomorrow is my 10th Entrepreneuriversary!!🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉
10 years ago, I left my (stable!) soul-sucking day job in the middle of the recession and embarked on what would shake out to be one of the best decisions of my life. (Phew!)
10 years ago I did something that felt scary, flaky, totally wackadoo — and it paid off. (I’m still amazed, honestly.)
10 years ago, I finally started to pay attention to what my heart was trying to tell my head, and took a big chance on my “little” creative coaching business (because I had yet to become a business coach specifically for multi-passionate women looking to discover, build, and launch their own dream businesses).
It’s been a hell of a ride. #understatementofthecentury (Seriously, when is the ride coming to a complete stop? And yet, I wouldn’t change a thing.)
Looking back on the past decade, there were a lot of hard lessons to learn, lots of achievements to celebrate, and tons of major question marks to tackle. You know how people always say, “If only I knew then what I know now”? This is kind of like that.
Here are 10 things I wish I could have told myself 10 years ago:
- “Quitting your stable job in the middle of the recession to be The When I Grow Up Coach full-time might be the smartest thing you’ll ever do.” At the time, it felt nuttso in the buttso (yup, still trying to make “nuttso in the buttso” a thing) and I figured this *might* be the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. I did intentionally work really hard to set enough money aside (5 months severance, in fact) to feel comfortable and confident stepping away from my day job 2 years and 7 months after I started it. I put a panic button in place, even though I never had to push it. All of this prep work gave me the freedom to fully step into my dream of becoming a creative business coach and the ability to remain authentic, stay optimistic, and kick some serious entrepreneur-butt. 10 years later, this decision has given me and my family so much in terms of our quality of life. It allowed my husband to quit his full-time job and become a freelance copywriter. It bought my family a home. It gave us the gift of time. (Hey, 10 years younger Michelle? Good call on this one.)
- “Keep following the overlap of what works best for you and what your ideal clients want.” In fact, this is a piece of advice I give my clients today! Imagine this as a Venn Diagram. One circle is your ideal working situation that includes how you like to work, when you like to work, who you’d like to work with, etc. In the other circle are your dream clients and their own wants and needs. In the middle where these two circles overlap is where you will find success! I’ve said before that in order to have a successful business you need to keep your Nancy Drew hat on forever and to not be afraid to evolve. When you aren’t sure what to do, there is rarely going to be a right answer, but there’s almost definitely always a GOOD answer, and it’s hanging out smack dab in the center of that Venn Diagram.
- “You are so much stronger and braver than you think.” 10 years ago when I started my entrepreneur life, I had zero cancer. Today, I’ve had to kick boob cancer’s butt—not once—but twice. I don’t think I need to state the obvious, but hey, Me? You’re a total badass. Despite the upheaval this kind of BS can bring, my business continued to thrive, my family grew, and success kept comin’. Take that, boob cancer.
- “You are putting good into this world and changing lives, and don’t you forget it.” Let’s call it like it is— the world today can be full of some, um, not great stuff (looking at *you*, coronavirus), and I’ll be damned if my work is going to be part of that. Being the When I Grow Up Coach is about so much more than being a way to make money. It’s about truly, really, sincerelyputting something good out into the world, and giving other creative women the same agency I’ve felt to change their own lives for the better (and therefore helpingthemput more good out there, too)!
- “Collaborations are fun and wonderful, but you can also reach your goals on your own.” I bet I’ve had a half-dozen collaborations in the past 10 years, and hey, they were all great. I’m a major extrovert by nature and really enjoy bouncing my creative energy off of other women’s creative energies whom I admire and respect. However, there was also a big chunk of time where I truly believed I couldn’t be as successful on my own, and that just isn’t true. Today, I know I have the skillset, intelligence, experience, and drive to achieve whatever I want flying totally solo, if necessary and preferred!
- “You don’t need a huge platform if you’re not running a quantity-based business.” The performer in me is probably always going to struggle playing the popularity game, bless her heart. In the spirit of transparency, it’s easy for me to get down on the size of my subscriber list, social media followers, blah-blah-blah. As someone who totally believes in the power of a newsletter (and has had one for 12 years!) I’m still far from the number of subscribers I’m told I “should” have 🙄. But, here is the thing, I don’t need hundreds of people to buy what I’m selling to make what I’m making. My business model’s success is not dependent on how many “likes” I get. So, it’s OK! If you need hundreds to thousands of people to purchase your $97 product to make a living, then yes, it matters how big your platform is. But the When I Grow Up Coach aint that, sister – and it allllllllll works!
- “It’s all gonna unfold anyway – you’re the one who chooses how you go along for the ride.” This is a lesson I keep learning over and over again. Most recently, it appeared during the launch of my Dream to Done program. I had *big* goals for it this year, and I was determined to meet them. But those high expectations always lead to a high amount of freak outs, and instead I realized, “Hey, this is going to happen one way or the other. You can either stress out about it and go into this launch super nervous with a tinge of desperation, or you can calm the heck down, put on your confidence hat, and relax.” Guess what? I chose the latter and enrollment was a dream (all 13 of the women inside are from the heavens, truly). I know that I saved myself a whole lot of panic along the way by choosing to roll with the punches!
- “You’re Michelle—F**king—Ward, CEO.” My Mastermind Group reminds me of this all the time. What started off as a “little” career coaching business with one offer (whaddup 12-weekly-sessions-or-bust!) has evolved into one hell of an empire, babes, and I am at the helm. I have a real team who reports to me. I offer (and fill!) multiple four-figure programs throughout the year. I’ve held keynote speaker positions at major events, have been published multiple times, and have developed the credibility, network, and experience I know I can lean on for the rest of my professional life. I’m Michelle f**cking Ward, CEO, even if it *is* still tough for me to say with a straight face!
- “Keep following your gut, own your experience, and ask for help from those you trust.” Any time throughout this 10 year journey that I felt lost, confused, or unclear, all I had to do was listen to my gut. My loving husband, Luke, always reminds me that whenever it comes to my business, my intuition has always, always, always known best. And in the moments where I haven’t listened to it fully, or haven’t checked in with my support network and processed their feedback in my own way? Those are the times when I found myself the most stuck. Having others to lean on is necessary, but going against your deepest truth will never fly.
- “Do your best to focus on what you have done rather than the what’s-to-come.” Eyes on your own paper, Michelle. It can be really hard to give yourselves the accolades you’ve earned, but you simply must! Looking around at others who appear to be doing more/better than you only damages your self worth and dims the achievements you HAVE made! Focusing on what you don’t have or haven’t done is going to make you feel smaller, lesser than, and crappy. Focusing on what you have done will make you feel grateful, motivated, and proud. (It’s kind of a no brainer when you think of it like that, right?)
10 years is a long time, and it’s also no time at all. I am so grateful for every twist this road has taken and I am so, so proud of the 10-years-younger Michelle who took a chance on herself and helped give me the life I have today.
If you want to celebrate YOUR 10th Entrepreneuriversary in 2030, then make sure you apply to 90 Day Business Launch before the doors close on 3/23!