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Want a Super Successful Small Business? Try This.

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I see it everyday, and I’m sure you do too. People struggling so hard to make a business work. Would-be business owners trying to fit all the pieces together and not quite getting there.

On one hand, it’s heartbreaking. Watching people, particularly women, going for “it” but yet, they’re failing. They just can’t make it work and that makes me, even with my hardcore, truth telling ways, kinda sad.

But it’s only kinda sad. Because on the other hand, this makes me all kinds of pissed off. (I’m not really sure how many kinds of pissed off there are, but I think a lot, right?)

A couple of weeks ago when I was having one of those moments and was feeling particularly worked up about it, I thought through all the reasons it was triggering me so much. Why was it making me irritated?  I mean, it’s not my business, why should I care?

But I do.  I actually give a crap because amid all the fluffed up audacious promises of 6-figure success, so few people are speaking the truth. Because it’s so much easier to gloss over all the parts of business that aren’t Instagram friendly and perpetuate this ongoing myth of shiny, happy, successful small businesses.

So, you want to have a super successful small business? Read this and get down and dirty with these truths:

1. Master Your Thing

This may make me super unpopular, but at this point, I don’t even care anymore. The idea of 10,000 hours to master your craft is still valid.

Just because you’re doing it online doesn’t give you a superpower of being able to skim over the important bits and becoming a master at your craft.

No matter what the big name experts would like to convince you. No matter how many times people say they’ll teach you the system they use and you can then teach it too.

Let’s not even talk about the “coach” that I found who’s conferring Masters and PhDs. Gotta say my friends who earned Dr. in front of their names aren’t so jazzed about that one, and for the record, that’s actually illegal.

All of it makes a mockery of people doing the work. Of people who are quietly doing their thing and being completely magnificent at it. Or of the real, true experts who have seeing all the variations, mutations and where things can go bad.

Because, where’s your self-proclaimed expert going to be when shit goes wrong? Or when the thing they’re teaching doesn’t deliver as promised?

They’re going to shift it around to be your fault. They’re not going to own it, because they’re still students of their craft and aren’t going to have a clue on how to turn it around or work with you on it.

Can you still be learning and teach? Sure, but don’t oversell it. Don’t overpromise. And sure as shit don’t call yourself an expert in any way, shape or form. (Or give yourself a fake PhD. Not cool.)

2. Stop Bitching, Start Working

Tough love moment coming right up. I’m a huge fan of getting support where you need it and seeking outside counsel. But there’s always going to be a time where you need to actually work.

So the hours you spend kvetching on Facebook about ALL the things going wrong or how the world is unfair is time wasted. Valuable time that you’ve spent bitching when you could have been working.

Maybe it’s not bitching you’re doing but crowdsourcing opinions from people who don’t actually know anything about you or your business. Or posting madly in groups in an effort to get someone, anyone to notice you. Stop it.

Close the Facebook down and get to work. Instead of relying on random people for input and interaction, build a close circle of people who know you, your business and that you can trust implicitly. Having a group of go-to smart ladies on your side will keep you focused. Best of all, they’ll tell you when you’re just bitching and need to cut it out.

3. Get a Grip on Reality

Running a small business – online, offline or somewhere in between – is hard. It’s literally going to be one of the hardest things you ever do. Because while you’re running your business and making decisions like a boss, you’re going to learn a lot about yourself.

Frankly, a lot of that stuff is super uncomfortable. I mean, who wants to break down in tears at your in-person mastermind because you’ve got personal issues that are triggered like crazy by doing 5 year planning? Yeah, not me. But it happened. As a small business boss, the personal and professional end up all in one trippy bundle.

Which is why we all love a good overnight success story. It’s completely irresistible. Because wouldn’t it be SO much easier to just be the overnight success story than to actually have to deal with all of these things?

Totally. But for every meteoric rise, there’s the other 99.99999999999% of us working hard and doing it the old fashioned way. Slow, steady and sustainable.

The sooner you realize that, the easier this entire thing gets. Getting a grip on your “normal” makes planning your path to success way less stressful as you’re not killing yourself trying to be the anomaly.

4. Fame is Besides the Point

When it comes to fame – especially on the internet – there’s three camps I encounter.

Camp #1 are the fame seekers. You know the kind. Typically driven by ego and a need to be seen, they go after it shamelessly. It’s more than wanting to be good at what they do, it’s about being capital F famous and known in a big way.

Camp #2 are the avoiders. They hate the limelight and don’t want to be seen. This often holds their business back as they sabotage themselves and prevent anyone from knowing about them.

The problem with both of these camps is that they’re missing the point. None of this has to do with fame. If you’re seeking it, or avoiding it, you’re hurting your business.

Which is why you need to find the middle ground. (And if you’re a fame seeker, you may want to throat punch me in a moment. But I’m pretty sure fame seekers wouldn’t read this far.) Strive to be in camp #3.

Camp #3 is not driven by a mega ego, narcissism or fear of being seen, but rather understanding that you’re really good at what you do. For the right people to find you and for you to be of the greatest service with your gifts, you need to be seen as a master of your craft.

Fame isn’t the point. Being known is a by-product of doing what you do really well and being recognized for it by the right people.

There you have it. 4 truths on the road to a super successful small business. Which one is your favorite or the one you need to work on? Comment below!

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Leave a Comment

  • Michele October 15, 2015, 2:53 pm

    Maggie…you rock! Just that reminder of “slow, steady, and sustainable” was a very good reminder for me that I am in the right spot and doing the right things in my biz. It’s so easy to get caught up with everyone else and start comparing but really focusing on your own steady progress is much better 🙂 thanks for these wonderful tips. Love your no bs approach!

    Reply
  • Vivian October 17, 2015, 3:41 pm

    I just popped a tent in Campsite #3 it has a great view of the horizon and, ” not [being] driven by a fear of being seen, but rather understanding that you’re really good at what you do. For the right people to find you and for you to be of the greatest service with your gifts, you need to be seen as a master of your craft.” I’m still all kinds of procrastinating and self-sabotaging but still making small baby steps towards being of service, offering my honest to God gifts to the right people and just getting on with it. Thanks for being honest, truthful and at my side in this journey. Love sitting by the virtual campfire with you in the world!

    Reply
  • Bryan October 20, 2015, 10:03 pm

    Frank but has a point. You really got all the pointers that we need to know and try in order to be successful in having a small business. Kudos!

    Reply
  • Claire November 25, 2015, 12:41 am

    I am trotting off to print this out and stick it above my desk! It has given me some great fresh perspective amidst all the crazy out there – thank you 🙂

    Reply
  • Rox January 20, 2016, 9:13 am

    I really, really needed to read this today. After more or less succeeding in getting my little freelance biz off the ground 6 years ago, I have had a few ups and downs. When it was good, it was so good (less about fame and more about being financially free though!). When it was bad, well, let me just say that burn out is real (and not very pretty, either). Balance is something I have had to learn over and over again.

    Now that I am working at rebuilding/redirecting a bit, I am seeing so many brand new baby freelancers publish income reports that make me amped at what can be achieved… but also a bit eye-rolly. Even being on a different continent, and for the most part, in a different industry, doing different things, with different circumstances, it makes me look at my own efforts a bit more critically. That is good to some extent – I know I am going to have to hussle again to get things where I want them to be. I also know that if I did it before, I can do it again.

    But yes… the sad reality is that it is a LOT more challenging, time consuming and stressful than the glam shots and #girlboss posts have us believe. So thank you for keeping it real. I need to remind myself that my decade of experience in my niche stands for something, and more importantly, get my self promotion on so that I can get out of ego camp #2.

    Reply
  • Annick Hary March 16, 2016, 3:53 am

    Great article. I love your “brutally honest” style. Way too often you’ll find tips that will be sugarcoated and full of “if you can dream it, you can do it”, but at some point, hard work and consistency ARE the two things you really need to get a good business going!
    Thanks a lot!

    Reply
  • Sara Mariah April 29, 2016, 9:55 pm

    Awesome post! It’s posts like these, the kick-in-the-pants, punch-in-the-throat, total truth bombs that we need more of. My goal is to finally get my own biz off the ground this year, and this post was exactly what I needed to read. So many of the blog posts I’ve read lately have been the kind of overly sugar-coated crap that sounds too good to be true, but yours was such a breath of fresh air. Sometimes a girl really needs to be reminded that there is no secret sauce, just hard work and the right state of mind. Thanks a million!

    Reply
  • Sandra July 31, 2016, 11:44 am

    Great blog post, Maggie!!! Very insightful and great points! My biggest problem personally with my small business is working inside my limits. Most weeks I start off really strong on Monday, work every day without breaks between tasks and by Wednesday afternoon I’m totally burned out. Week after week. As soon as I’m in the zone I don’t have a feeling for time anymore and when I set a timer to make sure I take a break every hour or so I have a hard time getting back into it. Any suggestions? Work-life balance is really important, I just don’t seem to get the hang of it yet^^ Many thanks and have a most wonderful start in the new week! Sandra

    Reply
  • Janine September 23, 2016, 5:53 am

    Maggie!! Thank you for this post….it was so real a nd so true. Just love the reminder that slow and steady wins the race ?

    Reply
  • Livia October 29, 2016, 7:11 am

    Love this. Thank you.

    Reply
  • Tonya January 1, 2017, 11:02 am

    U are soo honest about what steps we need to go thru. Because no matter how many times I hear about the imposter syndrome. I still cant help but wonder that maybe if you feel like one : You are one. We have to put the time and study in to be one no matter how much we wish. Thank you for the clarity.

    Reply
  • Dawn February 9, 2017, 9:49 pm

    I loved your statement about getting a good group of girls together. Such good advice and so true. I’m going to use the term “trippy”, loved it!

    Reply
  • Gloria Kaye February 16, 2017, 7:45 am

    Thanks for the great fresh ideas. It helps a lot to hear some one else’s perspective and approach. Expecting too much to fast can at times be counter productive!

    Reply