Do you believe that in order to succeed you have to do everything in your business? Are you, as a solopreneur, afraid to ask for help? Here’s a secret: I believed and felt those same things. But there is a better way. In this episode, I’m sharing five tips I wish I knew when I started my own business. Tips that address the things we all believe and don’t need to.
There’s a better way to get our business to where we want it. I know, it’s hard to let go and not be the “Chief of Everything” or to keep our business simple. But these five things I share with you will make your business life so much easier.
You can start things simply and not have to offer 100 services, you can have the help you need so you can focus on what you do really well. It’s true! So let’s explore the things we believe about business that aren’t helping us and start putting five things that work into play.
1:35 Things I believed that didn’t work
4:30 Five things I now know that I wish I’d known earlier
18:37 Reviewing what works:
- Don’t do everything yourself
- Find people who went before you
- Understanding that you can share with others in your field
- Keep things simple
- Get clear on what you really want
Resources discussed in this episode:
Contact Kari Lotzien | Be the Anchor:
Kari Lotzien: [00:00:01] Welcome to Be the Anchor, the podcast. I’m your host, business and leadership coach Kari Lotzien. When the seas of life gets stormy, and they always will, it is not up to us to captain anyone else’s ship or to try to calm the waters of the ocean. It’s up to us to set our own destination for what we really want and to learn how to navigate those waves of life together while finding that place of security and stability with others. I call this being an anchor. If you are a dreamer, a visionary, an entrepreneur, whether you have an idea big or small, that you think might just make the world a little bit better, kinder, gentler place, you are in the right spot, my friend. We are going to talk about everything from big ideas to mindset and strategy and sometimes just how to get through the day. I don’t want you to miss an episode so be sure to follow and subscribe to the podcast so that we can stay connected and keep doing this journey of life together. Thanks so much.
Kari Lotzien: [00:01:10] Hello and welcome to Be the Anchor the podcast. I’m your host, business and leadership coach, Kari Lotzien. I’m so glad you’re here. Starting and running a new business is not for the faint of heart. We all know this as we take our idea, our vision, our dream, and turn it to something tangible in a business.
Kari Lotzien: [00:01:35] I have been thinking a lot about after 22 years in business, starting as a solopreneur with not a clue about business, I was not raised in a home of entrepreneurs. I was raised with that idea that you go to university, you find your career, you work there for 40 years or longer. Find benefits. Find a pension. Retire. Live happily ever after. It wasn’t until just a few months into my career when I thought, I don’t think I can do it like this. I think there’s a better way. And my drive, and I hear this in a lot of entrepreneurs, my drive to start a business had nothing to do with wanting to be a business owner. Maybe that’s your case too. My passion came from I just saw that there could be a better way. I thought I can serve more people. I can, I believe, deliver a better service without having the constraints of a corporation or a government that is saying, this is your budget, this is what the qualifications are, and you shall not have this service unless. Now my business was in service. I ran a private rehabilitation company in Canada where let me tell you, there were no really solid private therapy clinics in rural Alberta where I lived. It was unheard of. But there was this passion in me that went, You know what? I really think this can work.
Kari Lotzien: [00:03:12] And when I looked at what I would now call market research, clients were asking for it. I knew there was a demand. I thought maybe people would pay for it. I wasn’t so sure and I had no experience. But I pushed through and 22 years later that business was something I was so proud of. We had developed an incredible team and I was eventually able to sell and then now continue on this journey of inspiring other entrepreneurs to bring their dreams to reality. But maybe not doing it in that hard challenge way of figuring it all out yourself like I did. I didn’t go with my MBA, I didn’t have a business background. I had a passion and I thought, if I build it, maybe someone will come and I don’t want you to go through that same thing. So my podcast today is going to be about five things that I wish someone would have told me or that I would have known in those early years in business that I think really would have made a significant change in how I felt, how successful my company was, the speed of growth that I had and the foundation that I was building.
Kari Lotzien: [00:04:30] So, number one, I had a vision that to be successful in business, I should start by doing everything myself. And this started with providing the service which I was comfortable with. I knew that part, but I also took on doing all the books myself, thinking, Well, it can’t be that hard, I’ll use a software program. I’ll go through it all. I’ll do all my own invoicing. I had a brick and mortar location at that time. I was doing all of the cleaning. I was doing the reception, I was answering all of the emails, all of our client intakes. I was literally the chief of everything, as my business coach would later say, that you are not the CEO of this company. You are the COE, you’re the chief of everything and you’re trying to do it all and you’re not doing it well. I thought that my time was free, that if I wasn’t paying someone else to do the work for me, including cleaning, bookkeeping, all of these other things, that I was saving money. When the reality was, if I looked at it in terms not of money, but of energy and time, I was costing my company huge money because my zone of genius, where I was really good, was in frontline service. I was good at earning revenue for the company and for every hour that I was spending not earning revenue or not moving towards that goal, I was taking away from the overall profit and revenue of my company. So the first thing that you can do in this place is get really real about what is your rate when you’re doing your service.
Kari Lotzien: [00:06:18] So if you are in a service based industry, if you’re a hairdresser, if you’re a mechanic, if you are a lawyer. Whatever you’re doing, real estate, any service-based profession, if you look at what your hourly rate is when you are providing that service compared to would you pay someone to do that? You will often find yourself if you are earning 80, 100, $200 an hour in providing your service, you know that you can hire someone to do your cleaning, to do your books for much, much less than that. And here’s the other big ticket is when you look at time, that person is likely way more efficient in doing that same task than you are. They’re likely more competent. They’re doing a better job. It’s more accurate. They’re more efficient. It is a waste of money to keep doing it yourself. But I think we lie to ourselves. We think that just because we can, because we’ve likely had some grit and some resilience, we know how to learn, we’re intelligent people. We convince ourselves that it’s not that hard, that we can do it ourselves and we lie to ourselves thinking that we are saving money. And this, my friend, is not true.
Kari Lotzien: [00:07:39] The second thing is I felt like I had to know everything about business and I was looking in the wrong places. So instead of going to find someone who had done this journey before me, going to ask other business owners some questions about payroll and GST and how to pay taxes and doing all of these other things, I went to Google. Sometimes I called the revenue agency, which I now found out was maybe not my best, most appropriate way to go. I felt like I couldn’t ask other people because I felt intimidated. I felt like I wasn’t a real business owner because I didn’t have that MBA. I didn’t have a business background. So I felt almost embarrassed or ashamed to ask people who had more experience than I did. Looking back, I now know that when I started asking other people, oh my gosh, the learning was so much quicker because people could say there’s all of these other pieces or parts to this, but here’s the piece that you really need to know. If you haven’t heard of Pareto’s principle, it’s the 80-20 rule. What mentors and other people who have gone through that path before you will tell you is these are the most important things you need to know. They’ll tell you what is the 20% of business that you need to focus your attention on to get 80% of your success. You don’t have to know it all. Focus your energy in on those key pieces and learn from the people who went before you, throw your guilt and your embarrassment out the door, don’t be too proud to ask. It is such a waste of time to protect your ego, to not ask the questions, to go find all the other information online in places that, you know, you just go down the rabbit hole and you find all kinds of information that doesn’t apply to what you’re actually looking for. Go to the source. Go to the people who have done it before you, get the information you need. Now, this is where a coach or a mentor can be so valuable. Yes, it might cost you some money, but in a lot of situations there are people who are experienced in your industry that will help you for nothing. Respect their time. Don’t overextend. If you have key questions, book an hour of their time. Pay for their lunch. Book them in. Go through your questions. Show gratitude for what they give back to you because it is invaluable. But it can often be really inexpensive and often people are willing to help you out.
Kari Lotzien: [00:10:23] Number three. I was raised in a time, and you might have been too, of thinking there wasn’t enough to go around. When I would put my idea out there, I would be told, Well, don’t share this idea because someone else might take it and then they’ll compete with you. I now know that my perceived competition are often my greatest networking partners. They can be great referral partners, especially in the coaching industry, in the therapy industry, whatever industry that you are in, it’s wide. If you’re a mechanic, you might work on a certain type of vehicle and your partner, your referral partner down the road, does a really great job with maybe foreign vehicles. If you are a therapist, you might really specialize in a certain type of treatment for a certain type of industry, and then you have a partner up the road or in your neighboring community that does a really exceptional job in a different area of practice. I can tell you your credibility grows immensely when you don’t try to do it all. When you develop those referral partnerships, even within your own industry and you start to pass referrals back and forth, clients, customers feel like you have their best interest at heart, that you’re not providing maybe a substandard service just to get their money. That you really are invested in what’s best for them, what they really need, and when you pass that referral to that referral partner, they will inevitably, because of the human condition, we feel that when someone gives to us, we naturally want to give back. There is more than enough to go around. We are not in a lack culture anymore. We really, really aren’t. No matter what that little voice in your head tells you, no matter what maybe your parent or your past boss or anything talks about, there is more than enough to go around. And when you can lean into that and when you can lean into the faith and the trust, really develop those partnerships, it will serve you so well and it will help you to really get clear on who your ideal client is, what you do really, really well. And the great thing is when you’re not trying to do it all, when you’re not trying to serve everyone, you can fall into your own zone of genius. It starts to feel fun. It’s comfortable. It’s easy. This is how you achieve true abundance. And so we want to keep building that idea of sharing our ideas, sharing our questions, developing our network, and growing that so that we can get the clients and the customers that we really want and that serve us well.
Kari Lotzien: [00:13:13] The other big piece, I believed that business was complicated. And let me tell you at the beginning, it feels that way when you’re thinking about taxes and onboarding and revenue streams and profit and loss statements and bookkeeping, keeping receipts, what’s a write off and what’s not, building your team of lawyers and accountants. It can feel really complicated. What I have now learned is that simple businesses are often the most successful. They’re easy to understand. It’s easy to explain to other people what you do and how you do it. When you onboard new team members, the expectation of how they earn money, how they’re successful, what they need to do is clear. Don’t overcomplicate your business. When you go to explain it, see, can you make it simpler and simpler and simpler and simpler? The more simple, the more straightforward, I do this, this is the return or the price that I charge. This is the investment. This is how I serve. The simpler you can be, sometimes the more successful you can be. You don’t have to start complex. You don’t have to start with ten different offerings or 25 different products or 100 different products. Start small. The idea is that you just start. Develop that foundation. See what you enjoy, see what you feel good at. See what comes easily. See what people respond to. Oftentimes we try to overdeliver, we try to anticipate what might people want before we even launch. And then oftentimes we end up throwing out half of those ideas, half of those products, half of those services, because either we didn’t enjoy doing it, it wasn’t really needed in the marketplace, and we move on. So the idea, don’t overcomplicate it, start small, start with something, you know, something that you feel is needed or wanted that people are asking you for and just start. Keep it simple.
Kari Lotzien: [00:15:25] Number five, get clear on what you really want. This is one of the biggest mistakes that I see early in entrepreneurship is we try to do it all. We have a natural fear that when we take that leap of faith to start a business, that we are going to starve. So we say yes to anything that comes our way, even if that means stretching beyond our own capacity. We often hear about boundaries. We hear about it everywhere. That we need to set boundaries, that we need to be clear on our boundaries, that we need to acknowledge our boundaries. Start small. Start simple. This can be as easy as saying I don’t work Sundays. This could be as simple as saying I don’t serve this type of client. That I won’t work before 9 a.m. on Monday to Friday. If your business doesn’t align with your life, if you don’t get clear on why you’re doing this business and how it is going to make your life better, we give the reins to our business. And it sounds crazy because I think when we first start up, we feel like we are one and the same with our business. You have to have a separate entity. Your business is a way to serve your life. Get clear on that from the very beginning. It is separate from you. Therefore, it does not get to overtake your life and start to control because it will become a monster in a very short order. Next thing you know, you’re all over the place. You’re extending your days, you’re working from home at 11:00 on a Tuesday night, you’ve been returning emails while your kids are playing hockey, you missed their goal, whatever it is. You want to get clear on that and you can again set it small. They don’t have to be hard and fast rules. But get clear on what you really want. Get clear on the money you want to make. Get clear on the hours that you’re going to work. If you just get clear on those two things, set some general boundaries, share those with the people who love you and are closest to you so that when you start to push up against that, when the fear kicks in and next thing you know, it’s 10:00 on a Wednesday and you’re sitting in front of your computer again doing your books or doing things that you should not be doing, the people who love you can lean in and say, Hey, remember, you set that goal, you set that boundary that you weren’t going to do this. And our likelihood, I mean, let’s be honest, we’ll probably get a little defensive, we’ll probably get a little angry, we’ll probably try to defend why we’re doing what we’re doing, and this is what must happen. But you need to have someone who can hold you accountable to step away, to not let that fear in that business take over and to keep revisiting is this contributing to the life that I want to live? And you might have to keep coming back to that over and over again over the years. But if you can do it at the beginning, let me tell you, it becomes so much easier as you move forward and you have those years of experience behind you.
Kari Lotzien: [00:18:37] So those, my friends, are the top five things that I wish that I would have known earlier on. Number one, you do not have to be the chief of everything. Do not do everything yourself. Number two, feeling that you need to know everything before you push forward, go find those people who went ahead of you. Learn that 20% that is going to contribute to 80% of your success so you can focus your energy on getting started and not getting stuck in that overwhelm of not knowing enough. Number three, feeling that there was not enough to go around and that everyone was my competitor and I felt the need to hold things really tight. You might feel that too, that that lack mindset is getting in your way of being able to really establish those good referral partnerships and being able to pass business from one company to another. This is key in building that going forward. Number four, don’t make it complicated. Keep it really simple. Fewer products, Fewer services. Stay in something you feel really comfortable in and start from there in building your foundation. We don’t want to spend all of our energy trying to imagine what people might want and then having to throw half of it out in very short order. Keep it simple. And number five, get clear on what you really want and why. You want a business that is going to contribute to your life, not to feel like it’s completely taking it over. If you can have some people that you love and that can help hold you accountable in those moments as you develop this business, as you really get into the grit and the the work that it takes to really make this go, share that. Make sure that you’re visiting, Are you staying aligned and in your integrity with the life that you want to create rather than letting the business take over?
Kari Lotzien: [00:20:33] Five tips and tricks. I hope these are helpful. If you’re finding key things in this podcast that you are finding helpful, I would so appreciate if you would subscribe, if you would rate the podcast. This is how we get the message out to more people who are going through this resilient activity of life in developing businesses and trying to make our communities a better place. I want to share the message. I would sincerely appreciate if you share a screenshot on your social media. If you send a link to a friend, this is how our community grows. Thank you so much for being here. We’ll chat soon.
Kari Lotzien: [00:21:13] Hey, my friends, are you a business owner that has survived that startup phase of business? You know how to hustle. You know how to work hard. You’ve got paying customers and from the outside looking in, you feel you’ve achieved a certain level of success in your business. You really care about the service and the quality that you provide to your clients or customers, but deep down you know that to go to that next level, you can’t keep going at this pace. You’re busy and you want to still have a life outside of your business. I am launching the Anchored Leadership group coaching program. Doors open October of 2023. This program is designed for business owners like you who need to develop their teams, who want to make more money and establish their business without just squeezing more into their day and stretching their limits even further. We are going to talk about everything from strategy to really digging into the nitty gritty. It’s a combination of training, workbooks and live coaching. If you want to learn more, click on the link in the show notes, we’ll book a discovery call, and you can find out if this is a great fit for you. Thanks so much. We’ll chat soon.