What happens when you get lost in a maze of shoulds while running your business?
If you’re Jennifer Dopazo, you decide to shut down your computer and start knocking on doors.
After 6 years of running a successful consulting business, working with clients like The New York Times and Nick.com, Jenny should have been on top of the world. But she had recently tumbled headlong into the world of online business. Attracted by the idea of location independence, Jenny started ticking off all the right boxes. Email marketing. Social media. All the stuff you’re supposed to do.
Ever so slowly, this new to do list ticked away at her creativity. Instead of feeling motivated, Jenny was losing her spark.
Because let’s be honest. Not all of us are meant to spend our days on the computer.
And that’s okay.
When Jenny realized Internet marketing was leaving her feel hollow, she didn’t double down. She went out in search of creatives and artists on a different path.
Along the way, she talked to folks like Matt Dilling, the Neon King of New York, and Sam and Ashley, the founders of a shop in Brooklyn with a singular goal: making people feel sexy.
Inspired by the way these businesses were building community and their businesses, Jenny decided to chronicle her finds in a web series called The Fabricant Way.
How do I know all this?
We’re lucky enough to count Jennifer as a client.
Today we’re helping her launch a Kickstarter campaign to make a second season of The Fabricant Way possible!
It’s been an amazing experience working behind-the-scenes on this project for the past few months. We got to help Jenny with everything from lining up media (and if you’d like to interview her, shoot me a line!) that will be running for the duration of the project to brainstorming rewards (I’m particularly excited about the sponsorship spots for the podcast) to helping script the video.
It’s funny, because today feels like we’ve crossed the finish line, which I’m sure you can relate to if you’ve coordinated a big launch. But it’s just the beginning.
Last October, Maggie flew out for our now annual planning tradition, and we tossed around the idea of using a fiscal year of October – September rather than the calendar year.
It’s a little silly, but Maggie joined me in October 2013, and it was such a momentous shift in my thinking about what my business could become that it felt right to honor that moment by creating our own calendar.
Ultimately, we discarded this as a fun idea that isn’t so great in practice. The accounting software I use generates useful reports based on the traditional calendar year, and with tax filings and all that, practicality and ease won out.
But I still can’t shake the feeling that our year actually started in October.
And by that measure, we’re already having the best year ever. That’s why, to kick off the “real” new year, I’d love to share the first piece of good news with you.
One of the things that has long been on my business bucket list is doing more public speaking and live workshops. Over the years, the lack of a speaking schedule has become something of a sore spot, because it’s a cobbler’s daughter has no shoes situation. I have a ton of professional experience lining up speaking opportunities for other people, but I never make the time to pitch myself.
At the same time, I’ve been doing a lot of relationship building. It’s this relationship building that ultimately lead to a situation where I am entering 2015 with not one but two big appearances scheduled early this year.
I’m going to be talking a lot more about one of them next week, because the opportunity is bringing with it a challenge I am sure you can relate to. Stay tuned — I don’t think you’ll want to miss it.
But there’s another event in that I do want to share with you now.
I’m speaking at The Instigator Experience in April. I’m especially excited, because Instigator is a dream conference:
It’s an intimate event, capped at 60 attendees. Srinivas Rao, the mastermind behind the event, is devoted to generating a lot of opportunities for speakers and attendees to interact. I’m a person that feels more comfortable making direct connections, so I can’t imagine a better setup for my first big talk as the founder of my agency.
The theme of the event, Igniting a Movement, is close to my heart and aligned with the purpose driving my agency. I also think an event like this, which brings together a small and dedicated group of speakers and attendees is essential to creating a support system that enables those brave, forward-thinking entrepreneurs, change makers and instigators to break through the barriers and launch their visions into reality.
I am personally excited about the other speakers. Some, like Jadah Sellner of Simple Green Smoothies, I’ve seen speak before, and I’ve been blown away. Others, like Christina Rasmussen, are addressing topics that I can’t wait to hear.
I’d love for you to join us as one of the 60 attendees, because it’s such an intimate event. I’ll be talking about Harnessing the Media to Move Hearts and Minds, and it’d be awesome to see your face from the stage.
Applications are open now, and you can click here to learn a lot more about The Instigator Experience. If you’ll be there, I’d love to hear from you beforehand, so we can be sure to carve out time for one another.
P.S. What I’m doing in this post, celebrating a big win with you, is something I intend to do a lot more of in 2015. Sharing our successes is tremendously important, and it’s my opinion that we, as business builders, don’t do enough of it. Can you think of an opportunity to celebrate with your own community?
I’m currently participating in a 200 hour yoga training program. One of the concepts we’re playing with is the idea of teaching from the ground up.
Take vrksasana, or tree pose. The photo below is my yoga teacher, Michelle Marlahan, in tree.
It can be tempting to focus on the position of the arms in a posture like this. Or to marvel at the balance needed to hold yourself up in this way.
But the real secret to tree is in your feet. Before you go anywhere, it’s essential to feel the connection in your standing foot to the ground beneath you.
The rest is ancillary.
One exercise illustrates this point nicely. If you practice yoga, you might like to try this.
Stand in your tree pose and feel your foot rooted to the ground. Now, imagine that a gusty wind is blowing you about. Really move your upper body and arms around. It’s astonishing just how hard it is to knock yourself out of balance when you try.
How can you work from the ground up in your business?
I’ve come to believe that the base of any successful business is not just the work you love to do, or the big goals you have for growing revenue and happy customers.
To create a strong and stable business model, you first need to root yourself in an awareness of the mode of work that gives you energy.
Notice, I’m not saying to start by looking at your craft. You may do PR or sewing or pottery or marketing or coaching or any number of things. Underlying your preference for one of these jobs is a desire to spend your days in a particular way.
Let’s say you “do marketing,” for example. I can think of at least a dozen different models that a marketer might create to run a successful business.
You may like to wake up every morning and write for 4 hours. You spend the bulk of your time creating new products and guides that you sell to your committed list of email subscribers.
Or, you might prefer to fill your days with brainstorming and strategy sessions with clients.
Or, you could be personally attuned to having variety in your week.
Given all these options, then, it’s vitally important to make sure you’re starting with an awareness of how you work best.
This is where I see a lot of online marketing programs fail small business owners.
They assume the ground is “I want to make 6 figures,” or “I want to squeeze as many dollars as possible out of each working hour.”
If you build your business model on a foundation that’s limited to bringing in revenue, it’s a short path to deciding you need to close your brick-and-mortar or fire all your clients to lead online group mastermind or training programs.
But maybe nothing brings you more joy than arranging your space each morning, tenderly moving products into a new display.
Or you love the creative fire of meeting 1-to-1 with clients.
In both of these cases, an Internet marketing business model would feel like a trap, a prison. It’d be just as uncomfortable as sliding on someone else’s stilettos.
Never compromise your vision to fit someone else’s definition of success.
Bringing back our analogy of tree pose, when you’re strong and supported in knowing how you’d like to work day-after-day, you’ll be amazed in how strong the proverbial winds may blow without shaking or toppling your foundation.
That’s why I advocate building your business from the ground up — finding the business model that allows you to do more of the types of work that bring you energy.
If you’re suddenly realizing that you’ve built your business on the wrong model (I sure did!), I recommend you check out 10ThousandFeet, the business mastermind Tara Gentile and I lead.
This is not another online marketing program. It’s about finding your base, so you can impact lives and make more money all the while not working yourself into the ground. Tara and I guide you through exercises that pull you out of the trenches and give you the big picture view on your business.
If you’re a long-time reader, you know that 10ThousandFeet was the program that helped me see that solopreneurship was draining my energy, even though it was bringing in revenue. I’ve since completely rewritten my business model, hired Maggie, and I’ve never felt more energized or hopeful about the future of my business.
That’s why I’m confident in recommending 10ThousandFeet to you. As both a participant and a teacher, I’ve seen how entire businesses are transformed to bring in more ease, fulfillment and, yes, revenue.
We kick off March 17th, and there are 3 spots open. If you’ve been struggling to find your base, I hope to see you there.