Have you ever felt exhausted by the effort required to build your online business?
Silly question, right? Of course you have!
You’re not crazy. You’re tired because it’s tiring.
And, if you’re like most entrepreneurs, just as soon as you master the learning curve required for automaticity in a new process or ride out a particularly turbulent season or cross the finish line on a big project, there’s another challenge calling from just beyond your reach.
With barely a breath to celebrate your most recent win, you’re off like a shot summiting the next mental mountain you dreamed up for yourself while taking a shower.
Contrary to Pixar’s opinion, adventure isn’t so much out there. It’s kind of all in here. In our brains. Our idea factories, if you will.
And, boy, do we solopreneurs have ideas.
Unfortunately for those of us who are building businesses on the internet from the comfort of our guest bedroom, our echo chamber for one comes with a downside that’s a serious potential threat to our business and, on occasion, our sanity: the illusion of control.
We’re a lot like Genie.
In our minds, we plot and plan. And we often do so without much in the way of real world input.
We fill white boards and notebooks with all the dreams living inside us for courses and podcasts and videos and books and email sequences and lead magnets and pure online business magic. Our brains even string these things together in ways that make crystal clear sense to us.
Just like the men Ursula encourages Ariel to court (you know, the ones who dote and swoon and fawn over ladies who are withdrawn), we love up on these silent, perfect plans we’ve constructed in our minds.
And sometimes we don’t even have the realization that we’re swimming in deep, dangerous waters until we’ve pushed that tiny monstrosity out into the world.
When we build the next thing in a vacuum, if it isn’t a resounding failure, it is probably - at the very least - a little bit ho hum.
Which brings me to my children.*
*Relax, CPS. I am not calling my children failures or ho hum. They’re only 3 and 5. It’s much too early to tell.
An Impactful Parenting Philosophy
I do very little in life without overthinking first. Becoming a parent was no exception.
Like most entrepreneurs, I’m type A. I like being in control.
But after spending 10 years as an ACT and SAT tutor, I had up-close-and-personal insight into just how much control any one person can truly have over another, not to mention the subsequent familial harmony or discord that results from the intersection of a multitude of parenting approaches, personalities, and hormones.
One thing I was really clear on before I decided to become a mother is how little I want to cruise direct or try to control my people.
With ideation as my top strength, I knew I would have a zillion ideas for what my future kids could be. But I also saw the havoc that projecting unsolicited ideas onto impressionable little beings could cause.
So I decided I would don my dustiest fedora, Indiana Jones style, and focus on being an archeologist rather than an architect in my parenting approach. Instead of trying to build my people into who I want them to be, I do my utmost to help uncover who they authentically are.
While I’ll always be age-appropriately honest with my kids when they ask direct questions, I generally aim to give them both the support and the space to figure themselves out.
Support and space. Both are important.
This does not mean that I’m hands-off as a parent. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have boundaries and bedtimes. I provide the kinds of planned activities and art supplies and unstructured time and stories that I think will help my kids stay connected to their truest selves and also help them learn about the world at large.
After all, archaeologists don’t sit around waiting for the weather to unearth artifacts.
They take an active hand in the process. They create the proper environment and leverage a wide array of tools to bring forth treasures from places nobody else could see treasures existed.
That's all well and good, but the best part of this philosophy is that I don't feel compelled to have all the answers because there is zero illusion that I have any control over the outcome.
When I’m parenting from an archeologist’s mindset, I’m simply helping what’s already there come more fully into view. I’m not impressing my agenda.
I can influence the outcome. But I can't control it. Hallelujah!
Instead, I focus on exploration rather than destination which leads to open conversations and curiosity without the pressure to do it all "correctly" - whatever that means.
Now, you may be thinking: “This article took a weird turn. I have no idea what this has to do with my mindset in business.”
Here’s how it ties together…
Don't Tiger Mom Your Business Kid
I see so many entrepreneurs trying to architect their businesses with the iron will of an overzealous Tiger Mom who hit the macchiatos a little too hard between their tennis lesson and carpool pickup.
How the business performs is reflected in their sense of self worth.
Hustle culture and scarcity mindset dominate.
It’s ego-centric and closed off.
When ideas misfire, they scrap the whole project as a failure rather than iterating on the good.
When something goes well, they head straight to the next project, aiming to reinvent the wheel in the name of over-achievement with a vague sense of dread that things will never go so well again.
Their stranglehold in service of the business slows or kills the business’s growth, and they often stifle their own creativity and fulfillment for the sake of their business.
It’s a whole lot of sticks and not so many carrots.
Sadly, these architecting Tiger Business Owners miss incredible opportunities for connection, collaboration, and insight because they’re so focused on how they believe things should be that they don’t take outside stimulus into account. Or they are hell-bent on finding the singular “right” way to do something instead of seeing the myriad opportunities that lie before them.
Because they can’t see the limits of their knowledge and rarely invite others into the conversation to help them gain the advantage of a variety of perspectives, they often end up circling around the same challenges for a long time, following prescriptive, restrictive formulas rather than effective, creative frameworks.
Bottom line: It is damn near impossible to find ease and flow and growth if you insist on white-knuckling it in your wolf pack of one.
But if you shift your mindset in business from one of an architect building the business of your dreams to an archaeologist looking to unearth the solution of your future clients’ dreams, your journey will be far more successful and a lot less stressful.
Having an archeologist’s mindset relieves you of the pressure that you have to have all the answers.
It bends you away from isolated certainty and towards insight-giving curiosity.
It helps you keep your eyes open for ways you can improvise and be creative.
It keeps you open to opportunity.
It keeps you humble because you inherently know that the answers aren’t really in your head at all. They’re out there somewhere for you to find, dig up, and then share.
While your treasures may not belong in a museum, Indy is right that the best discoveries deserve to be shared with others.
I believe that every single person has something incredible to share with the world.
You are no exception. And, for most solopreneurs, we channel this passion and purpose through our businesses.
How To Shift Your Entrepreneurial Mindset
If you’re reading this and realizing that you’ve been living with an architect’s mindset more than an archeologist’s or you feel calcified in a way of thinking that feels more ego-driven and reductive than client-serving and expansive, here are a few ideas to help you break that not-so-useful habit…
- Research the keywords in your industry so you can see exactly what the clients who need your services are searching in Google. Use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, Answer The Public, or Ahrefs to find them.
- Listen to podcasts in your niche and beyond, then respectfully engage with those shows’ communities on social.
- Write out your ideal client avatar and really go into the emotional side of that profile. Get to know them, understand them, and care about them.
- Head to an entrepreneurial conference to learn new skills and keep an open mind as you meet peers there. Look for mutually beneficial opportunities for collaboration with your new friends.
- Check out meet ups and Facebook groups in your industry and adjacent industries so you can build up a database of fellow business owners you can refer your clients to and build your referral network as well.
- Join an online mastermind group that will help you workshop new business ideas, identify your blind spots and fill your knowledge gaps, and keep you accountable to making informed forward progress.
Take these actions to help shift your mindset in business.
Lean in. Get curious. Be generous. Work hard.
In doing so, you'll create positive momentum in both your life and your business.
If you have any questions or need help figuring out your next right steps as you employ this new entrepreneurial mindset, send me a message. I’m here to help!