This is about the time last year when I spent almost $1500 on online courses and e-products around entrepreneurship, and didn't learn a damn thing, and got so spiritually burned out I seriously thought of quitting - even though my business was doing fine.
Pretty much all of entrepreneurship is about learning on your feet. Business ownership, like the internet, is the great democratizer: no amount of education can possibly prepare you for the reality of actually owning and operating a business.
When I opened my first business, Bluestockings Boutique, I was a new entrepreneur, and just new to business, period. Whereas other successful online entrepreneurs come from a corporate background, I'd come out of four years in a Ph.D. English lit program - which meant that I was a great writer and teacher, but not so hot on the marketing strategy.
I was also coming from being a student, and I valued education. It became pretty clear pretty quickly that non-traditional education offered by other online entrepreneurs was the way to go.
Last summer, I was in a pretty gutwrenching place that led to my pursuing non-traditional education with lots of vim, vigor, and undiscerning stupidity. I was trying to find a way to make my business work. I was leaving my graduate program (read: steady income). I was really really trying to get my business off the ground so that it could at least pay its bills.
Maybe you can relate.
If you can relate, I bet that you also know that this is not a good position to be in. Shifting our focus in business from values to money is kind of like falling in love - it happens a little at first, and then all at once, without realizing it. This is dangerous. When the focus shifts to money, it shifts your energy from your groundedness, from your values, from your why, from your brand.
Spiritually speaking, the pursuit of money is perhaps not what you want your intuitive, core self to be grounded in.
Some businesses are unicorns and quickly grow, accumulate, and prove financially successful right out of the gate. Naptural Nicole, for example, is a totally unicorn girlboss (with, as she will tell you, a substantive corporate background doing for corporations what she now does for girlbosses). This is not the norm.
@@Most of us build organically, and slowly, over time.@@
In the age of online entrepreneurship, this is not a popular message. Online entrepreneurship is having a moment: we are all inundated with courses, ebooks, eproducts, workshops, and a shitton of other things that promise multi-figure launches and thousands of people on your first webinar.
High numbers are awesome. Epic. Encouraging. If you have experienced those things, GO YOU! And I think they are absolutely healthy things to want and to work towards. (Capricorn here. All about setting high goals and achieving 'em.)
But the risk in the non-traditional education that has sprung up to accompany online entrepreneurship is that it is almost exclusively built around one key strategy: "How to get more, faster."
When this is the kind of content we are taking in 24/7, it breeds any number of unrealistic and toxic beliefs and practices in your brand and business.
I don't think these products are maliciously intended. Far from it. The issue is that the culture of online entrepreneurship, like everything else, is not immune from mirroring the ugly in western culture: fast food, fast fashion, fast results, fast audience growth, fast launch, fast money.
This strategy works for some. But it does not work for everyone. And pitching it that way breeds toxicity and ultimately encourages discouragement and burnout in folks for whom it does not work. Just this week, tarot reader Jess J. Carlson announced on Periscope that she was shutting down her soul-based business after ten years due to feelings of massive disconnect between her spirit and her work.
Literally no one is immune from the effects of the rat-race online world.
So what can we do to combat this?
1. Turn off your notifications.
2. Limit your intake.
It can be tempting to click on every resource, every opt-in, every freebie promising more followers, more cash, a bigger launch, a better webinar. Don't do it. Limit your intake to who you trust.
Or maybe even go cold turkey.
3. Literally go cold turkey on your favorite blogs and e-products. Unsubscribe from their lists (you can always re-subscribe.) Unfollow if you need to. Stop the constant intake - and constant product promotion.
This is what I did late last fall, and it was the best decision for my first business that I ever made.
Last year, I spent almost $1500 on e-products (courses, books), most of which were not useful for my industry or useful for me, personally. I implemented strategies that felt soulless and that resulted in massive disconnect from my customers. And I was not alone. I was in Facebook groups and Slack chats with other frustrated people -- there were a lot of us who were feeling the disconnect between the strategy and what I eventually came to see was the soul.
More troublingly, I fell into the trap of content overload. Periscope was taking off, so I jumped on and watched probably at least a dozen scopes every day. I also did well over a hundred Scopes for my business, Bluestockings - no matter that they did not result in sales, and that the Scopes were intensely exhausting in that I wasn't interacting with people (for the most part) who filled me up.
So I turned my Periscope notifications off and quit. And goddamn, did it feel good.
After quitting Periscope and deciding I wasn't paying for anymore e-products until I felt better, I detox'd - hard. Purged the shit that hadn't worked. Purged the strategies that felt false as hell. (And honestly: I'm still purging.) Purged what wasn't true to the spirit of my brand. Purged what didn't sit well with my soul.
The issue was that my soul had got buried under all that content, which implicitly encouraged me to not trust myself or my customers.
And let me tell you: rebuilding that trust is a process. (Especially rebuilding trust in yourself. For me, that looked like lots of journaling, lots of tarot, lots of crystals, lots of candles, lots of woo.) But taking the time to rebuild was so worth it.
I am more connected to my customers at Bluestockings than ever. Average monthly sales are consistently increasing. Social media engagement is through the roof. Ironically, now that I'm not obsessed with growing my business quickly, my business is actually growing. Slowly. Organically. But growing.
Plus? I started a new business! This one! That I'm so passionate about, and so invested in, and so spiritually connected to.