Small business isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the brave, the patient and the persistent. It’s for the overcomer. Unknown
Five years feels both so very long and so very short. My first and only career lasted 25 years. My life, 50 years as of this writing. But there is just something about creating a business from scratch, and reaching this milestone that is giving me all the feels, something I know all small biz owners can relate to.
How did we get here? It’s a simple story quite honestly, but far from easy. Actually, it was, and continues to be, hard AF. The obvious is passion. But, and here is a big BUT, you can be passionate as all get out, and never turn that passion into a brand. It takes more. Way more. A lot more!
This comes first cause without this; we will never start. I gave up everything. Sold everything. Sacrificed everything. Do you need to do that same? Not at all. But no matter how you slice it, you gotta dig deep for the courage to take the road less traveled. To risk everything. To walk from failure to failure with grace. Courage will keep you going when you want to quit. There are still days I want to quit. But I don’t. And you don’t have to either.
There was never a doubt of what business we were in and why we were in it. From day ONE. Clarity allows you to make decisions, build strategies, stick to plans and most important, not become distracted by the latest, greatest fad. Know what business you are in, and more importantly, WHY you are in it. Gain a deep understanding of your purpose, promise and people. That is the foundation of an awesome brand.
Building a brand around the social + digital web in 2012 was not the most brilliant of ideas. We were too early, like 4 years too early. But knowing that business was changing, forever, and our belief in the social + digital web as a means of empowering small business was so strong, we stayed committed. No, after no, after NO. Most people are committed only for as long as it’s easy. It’s never easy. Which is where commitment comes in. Commit. And take action. And commit again. Adjust your strategy but never your vision or purpose.
Once you have committed, now comes the even harder part, consistency. And I do not mean consistency as in never changing, boring, status quo stuff, nope. I mean consistency of purpose, vision, message, voice, of focus, of story and of simply showing up every damn day. A big part of our success has been simply; consistency.
Without relationships and a tribe, we got nothing. From community comes clients, from clients comes revenue, and from revenue comes the ability to create more value for your community. Simple in theory, but not easy in execution. Building relationships takes time, and good intentions. If you think you are going to make something and all of a sudden the world is going to start calling you, it just ain’t so.
You see, I didn’t just fall into creating brands and businesses. Nope, I had a long, awesome, and very successful career as a leader, marketer and educator. I spent over two decades creating stuff for others, but I had never, created something of my own.
But on March 26th, 2012, I finally hit the LIVE button; on our website, newsletter and social pages. OMG! I totally wanted to throw up. You feel me?
Passion Squared began with a vision of empowerment and engagement. Myself, and my former biz partner saw something that we believed could “change everything” for creative small businesses. But nobody would listen. We had some pretty turbulent times, and every day came with at least one WTF moment, well, actually, a ton of them.
Early on, my biz partner decided to move on, and I was left with what to do next. I began again, from zero, about 1-½ years in. Throwing in the towel was on my mind, almost on the daily. But how could I throw away something I believed in so deeply? How could I throw away the idea of waking up each day empowering the people I loved? I just couldn’t.
Pushing my ego aside, I got back to work. And worked, and worked, and created, and showed up, and delivered value, and built relationships, and community and… finally, one day, it all clicked (pun intended, kinda).
Here is what the first few years of Passion Squared looked like;
Daily Facebook engaging
Daily Instagram engaging
This was my strategy. I did not create an Internet marketing funnel. I did not take any Internet marketing courses, I did not need to. If I knew nothing else, I knew how to build a brand, a community and how to market. It’s what I did my entire career and quite successfully. But, what I also did was stay true to my purpose, and promise, and that was infusing personal development into everything I did. Every course I created. Every piece of content. As one thing I know for sure, MOST of what gets in the way of creative small biz owners after all the stuff, is confidence. And that is an inside job. It requires self awareness, therapy, losing the notion of perfectionism, setting healthy boundaries, prossessing traumas, and dropping the co-dependency bullshit.
As community builded, I built more online courses and offered one on one coaching. I created more products and services that I knew would add value to my community. I wrote a book, and sold lots of them, and helped a lot of people in doing so. I created A School, by far the most awesome service I ever created, and to this day, my greatest pride and joy. As our A School Members remind me on the daily WHY I started and WHY I stay.
I got into a ton of debt, took side jobs as needed, and even worked a few hours a week for $15/hour, after making millions as a big executive. And I did all this for two reasons; to save my life, and to live my purpose by empowering the people I love.
You see, I never, ever thought I would leave my career. I had not planned on it, not ever. Money has never had much value to me, so I did not have a nest egg significant enough to last me the early years of not generating revenue. But I persisted. And never gave up.
And here we are. This is not a unique story. This is all of our stories. And this is mine. Today, I can breathe. I can wake up each day knowing I have one job, and that is to help people by empowering you to create your own kind of awesome.
To our beloved tribe, thank you for 5 awesome years of passion + awesome. And while this is a milestone that I am proud AF of, we still have so much work to do! Heeeere weeeee go!
Love + Awesomeness-
PS: We made a little love note for you to say thank you. For reals. Watch it. THANK YOU!