Thursday, 20 November 2014

Global Entrepreneurship Week: Troubleshooting Ten Common Dilemmas for Spiritual Biz Owners

A couple of weeks ago when I first decided to write blog posts for Global Entrepreneurship Week, I started thinking seriously about my own business journey - the ups, the downs and the weird little cul-de-sacs along the way. I have learned so many lessons and yet I still feel like a complete novice. I think that's pretty much the healthiest mindset there is in business - embrace what you know, don't downplay it, but recognise that there's so much more to get your head around and be humble about that.

I have found that the most interesting thing about the spiritual/metaphysical side of the street in business is that many of our concerns are exclusive to our particular crowd in many ways. This creates an amazing hotbed of dialogue and debate! So many heart-centred biz owners are chiming in with their thoughts about the issues which affect those who want their spiritual interests and their livelihood to meet in the middle. We often talk about how to approach marketing and promotion so that we are matching up with those who resonate rather than forcing our products and services onto those who don't. We talk about creating strong, sacred connections. We talk about the guilt and weirdness associated with money. We talk about how we can approach the current value system, with all its shitty associations and corrupt devotees, in a spiritual and down-to-earth way. We talk about being authentic in business. We talk about the beauty of collaboration, the icky nature of competition and how we're basically stronger together.

It's always lovely to see that people are willing to be honest about their issues as spiritual business owners, and even lovelier to see that those who have been on the war path for a while are willing to share their advice on how to deal with things.

I hope that you will consider this blog post to be a contribution to that dialogue from somewhat of an old business battleaxe (who still feels like she's taking her first steps).

So, here are ten of the most persistent and common dilemmas for spiritual entrepreneurs and how to troubleshoot them with the utmost grace..

1. 'I don't relate to all this advice about "hard selling", "closing the deal" and "refusing to take no for an answer". That's not the kind of business I want to run!' 
It's not the kind of business I want to run either! If you're new to entrepreneurship, swimming in a sea of sales speak and finding it difficult to see where you fit into it all, you are undoubtedly in the wrong place! There are so many heart-centred bloggers, coaches, business owners and mentors writing and speaking about how to hustle from the heart and you should be paying attention to them!

One thing I occasionally love to do is listen to a Daniel LaPorte interview whilst getting ready in the morning or scroll through Tara Gentile's blog before I go to sleep. These women have a fresh take on so many things and I often feel as though they're speaking to me directly, taking my spiritual approach into account. Cerries from The Brand Alchemist even uses archetypes to help you improve your approach to branding for your biz! (You can take the test here.) I also love to spend time with fellow heart-centred business types in our private Facebook group. No one talks about hard selling techniques and everyone has a business which aligns with their passions and principles, so it's the perfect place to start a meaningful conversation and get some useful feedback. Feel free to join us, by the way.

2. 'Networking seems so inauthentic. I'm just leaving comments underneath people's content in order to get noticed. How is that a reflection of my authentic self?' 
If you don't love networking, you're probably doing it wrong! The first thing to do is ensure that you're only engaging with people whose business/content/outlook reflects or compliment yours in some way. This is fairly obvious as a networking strategy since you're more likely to receive collaboration, mutual appreciation and discussion from those peeps. But it's also a sure-fire way to ensure that you don't die of boredom when you're reading through blogs or watching videos. Don't convince yourself that networking is about casting the net as wide as you possibly can. It's not! It's about being a treasure hunter, a talent scout, a curious explorer.. Find the people who seem to vibe with you and then check out what those people like and then check out who they're following and then go from there and see who those people appreciate. You're looking for your playmates. Don't forget that! When you approach the process this way, how could it be anything but authentic?

Every time you leave a comment for someone, think about how wonderful you feel when you receive interaction and feedback. You are paying that lovely stuff forward when you show up for someone else in the same way. Think of yourself as a fairy, sprinkling shimmering fairy dust all over the interwebs! Networking is friendly, communicative, inspiring.. Sure, 'networking' is an ugly term for it. Try using a different one. I like to call it 'going hunting'. Just hunting for treasure out there in cyberspace, discovering some new Tarot tigress with a fresh perspective or talking to a magical group of people about their favourite archetypes. It's an adventure!

(I also want to mention this because it's more important than you think: If you take your business seriously, try taking networking a little more seriously and you'll see hugely positive results. If you're in your first year of entrepreneurial business, might I suggest scheduling regular time into your week for networking? Don't treat it as that thing you sometimes do for a while in the evenings if you have time. Treat it as a vital part of the process.)

3. 'I have an important message to put out into the world and I feel like no one's listening. My business comes from the heart - how can I get it into other people's hearts too?' 
I hear you loud and clear. Here's a few things you can try. Firstly, think about the story behind your business and whether or not you're really telling that story. There's a story behind everything and many people connect to their heart centres through the power of stories. Truth! I am the centre of my business. Everything within it comes from me, therefore I need to be prepared to give people a slice of who I am. Many people are vividly aware of how and why my business came into being because I told them. I also choose the stories which reflect the passion within me and connect with the passions inside other people. I blog about heartbreak, make videos about shadow work and post statuses about self-love because those things have saved my life and I know that they can save and enrich other people's lives too. Gala Darling recently said that she thinks it's important to tell other people about the things which have helped you to get through something. It's like sharing vital information. Are you doing that? How can you do that more?

Write down the story of your business from start to finish. Who were you at its inception? Why did it come into being? What were your intentions at the start? How have your ideas changed? How has the dream expanded, deepened or shifted in unexpected ways? What qualifies you to be the one sole person on the planet who can develop this business and make it fly? How are your business and your identity really linked? Write down the key stories of the life experiences, triumphs and disasters which have brought you to this point. Write about why they matter. Write about how they have shaped you and how they now influence what you choose to put out into the world.

Seriously, get as clear as you can on this stuff.

Next up, are you appreciating what you are doing, the impact you are having and the people you are reaching right now? I understand that you have big, fluffy dreams and that's absolutely fine. But if someone leaves you a comment, writes you an email or purchases something from you, be present with that rather than daydreaming about that point in the future when you'll have a five figure annual income and an assistant to deal with your inbox. Your dreams are gorgeous but the present is handing something just as gorgeous to you and you're missing it!

Finally, are you good enough at conveying your passion and imparting your knowledge? Be honest with yourself about this. Read back over your blog or watch a few of your videos. Are you feeling it? Are you inspired? If not, is it likely that other people are going to be?

4. 'I find myself envying other business owners in my sector or comparing myself to them in a negative way. Help!' 
Your envy is a reflection of your awareness of your own abilities. You see a successful spiritual business powerhouse inside of you. Your envy of those who have managed to manifest theirs is the sign that you really want to unleash yours! Take that straight to your heart and sit with it for a while. Then I would suggest that you do some serious journalling. Get to the bottom of that envy, dissect it, find the fuel and ditch the waste. There is always some fuel in envy - and I'm talking high-octane fuel which will take you exactly where you want to go. There is always some waste in envy too - that's the shit that weighs you down and makes you feel horrible. Learn the difference, make the separation and run with the good stuff. If you trust me on nothing else, trust me on this.

5. 'Taking money for my gifts makes me feel bad. I am convinced that I should give my products/services away for free.' 
No one can tell you what you think. No one can make this decision for you. I personally don't feel that there's anything wrong with someone deciding that it doesn't feel right to charge for their spiritual abilities, whether it's making witchcraft tools or offering lessons about chakra activation. I do take issue with those who ceaselessly judge others for accepting money, however. Everyone's path is different and everyone's approach to money is different.

Before you go any further on your business journey, take some time to journal from a really deep place about your emotional response to the idea of taking payment. You may run into some 'money monsters' - some shards of your shadow side which are hell-bent on ruining your relationship with money and making you feel icky about it. Sorting through those things before you try to make a go of it in business is important. They will come back and bite you in the behind later on if you don't deal with them now.

6. 'Lots of people seem to think that those who charge for spiritual services are charlatans or money-hungry, selfish types.. I don't feel that it's wrong to accept money for my time and skills, but I hate feeling judged by others.'
At the risk of duplicating the advice above, give yourself the time, space and focus to work out what you think. What you think, and why. Again, what you think. (But if you're just looking for some reassurance that you're not a big ol' fake just because your base chakra is concerned with making rent and buying food, read this.)

Secondly, if you hate being judged by others to a debilitating degree, you may need to rethink entrepreneurship as a plan. I know it seems super harsh, but seriously - in entrepreneurship you are aiming to do something, be something and say something with your business. When you dare to do those things, you will be judged by other people and it won't always be pretty.

7. 'I'm following all the business advice but I feel like playing by the rules is stopping me from making my business into a reflection of who I really am.' 
It probably is! Advice is like a buffet - taste a little of everything at first and then grab more of what you liked whilst avoiding what wasn't really working for you. (For the full-length version of this analogy and how to implement the advice, check out my free business e-guide, 'Work It, Baby!'.) The bottom line is that all business advice is optional, some advice is more suited to different kinds of businesses or different kinds of business owners and, above all, you have every right to find your perfect combination of techniques and methods. In fact, that's part of the fun! You get to rule your own kingdom.

8. 'It's time to raise my prices but I feel awful about it. What if my clients can't afford my services anymore? What if I end up excluding people who earn a lower income?'
First of all, get clear on why it's time to raise your prices. Once you've got your reasons lined up in a row, shoot them and see if they stay standing. What I mean is, if your reasons are super solid and you feel comfortable with them, you're far less likely to feel awful about the decision. If you're feeling bad, it makes sense to start with your underlying motivation and see what you find there.

Secondly, there are ways and means of ensuring that everyone, no matter their situation, can receive help from you. If someone is aware of your paid services, they are either in possession of a computer or find themselves able to use a computer at someone else's house or in a coffee shop. This means that they can take advantage of all of your free content. If you create informative or encouraging blog posts and/or videos, offer a free gift on your website or maintain a social media presence, they are getting something from you. You can rest easy. I know that you wish you could give one-on-one help to everyone or send everyone your product, and that's super sweet and heart-centred of you. But it's not possible. Instead, package up as much wisdom and good intention as you feel willing and able to and give it out freely whilst ensuring that you're getting a fair price which feels right to you for your chargeable stuff.

Everyone is saving up some money for something they want. I'm saving money for things I want and I bet you are too, right? You may not be saving to buy a house or a car at the moment, but you may put some cash aside for something like a premium coffee and the latest issue of your favourite magazine. You're conscious of the fact that some of the things you want require you to be diligent with your cash. Well, lots of people save up money for a Tarot reading, crystal healing session or custom-made charm bracelet. Sometimes, when I receive notes from a client about their order, they tell me that they've saved up to purchase the reading. That's so cool to me! My work has been someone's investment. That's meaningful. When I see a business coaching session I want and it's too much money for me to immediately buy, it never occurs to me that the coach should give the work away for free. My first thought is, 'Should I save for this? Would it be worth the investment?' You're looking for clients who are prepared to appreciate the value in what you do and ask themselves that question.

Finally, don't forget that there are lots of lovely things you can do to ensure that your products and/or services are affordable. I conduct regular sales and let my tribe know that they can purchase at a discounted rate for a limited time. I also offer all repeat clients a 10% discount on every single future purchase.

9. 'I am super competitive by nature! I want to be at the top of my game and that means making my idols into my rivals. How can I marry my competitive take on things with my spiritual business?' 
Attempting to eliminate your competitive streak completely is likely to lead to suppression, weirdness and the suspicion that you're being inauthentic so that you can fit in with the heart-centred crowd. If you really want to level with yourself about your competitive take on things, I suggest competing madly, wildly and ruthlessly.. with the person you were yesterday. Self-improvement is often much easier for reformed competitive types who have decided to stop focusing on leaving others in the dust and instead start focusing on how they can outperform themselves. It's really about redirecting that competitive energy and tweaking your perspective.

Also, I personally find the 'turn your idols into rivals' phrase super low vibration. Seriously, I actually struggle to even type it without irking my heart chakra slightly. You know what I always sense when I stumble upon this super competitive paradigm in business? Scarcity mindset. Pure and simple. There's no need to behave as though every dollar you earn could be your last if you don't kill off the competition. There's no need to become hell-bent on being the last biz owner standing. This isn't some weird entrepreneurial Hunger Games, people.

10. 'I'm not sure how to pin down my key aims and work out what I'm really doing with my business. I'm interested in incorporating reiki, Tarot, crystals, witchcraft, psychology, astrology..'
Ahh, this is such a common dilemma and it's a testament to the multifaceted and super creative nature of us spiritual types, right? Ok, let's troubleshoot. What's great about a heart-centred, spirit-soaked enterprise is that the owner of the business is its beating heart. Rather than adopting the belief that we need to leave our ethics and personalities at the door to get sales, we swim in the other direction, embracing authenticity entirely and bearing our souls. You can use this person-centred paradigm to your advantage by working out what you stand for, what your key principles and beliefs are etcetera and then simply applying them to everything under the umbrella of your brand.

My business is about Tarot (reading for others and teaching), shadow work, self-love, witchcraft and creating a free-wheeling spiritual practice among other things. Whatever's in my heart is funneled into The Four Queens at any given time. What connects them all together? My chosen perspective. My way of seeing these things, teaching them and conveying them. That's where they all meet in the middle, that's what they all have in common. I have three keywords - three desired criteria for everything I do with The Four Queens. Wanna know what they are? Healing, empowerment and creativity. As long as one, two or all three of those things seem to be truly present in whatever I'm putting out into the world, I'm happy. What are your keywords for your brand? Once you've pinned them down, you'll find it much easier to add more strings to your bow!

I hope this has been a helpful exploration of some common issues.

May my journey and yours continue to divinely converge..

Much love!