This is a story of exploration and discovery. I hope that it inspires you to explore and discover whether or not anything is standing in the way of your dreams — a great way to enter into the new year!
Allow me introduce you to Annette. (Although I have permission to share this story, names have been changed to protect the successful!) Annette came into coaching as the owner of a very successful company, but with the knowing that both she and her company held so much more potential. She is a deeply spiritual woman, with greater than average intellect — and a PhD - yet felt lost and confused about what she was meant to achieve in her life and business. Annette's goal was to break the million-dollar mark after being stagnant at $350,000 (gross) for more than 7 years. With already high operating costs escalating, Annette was fearful that her company could not move forward.
Annette's company was most definitely a replicable model but she wasn't replicating! After spending time with her evaluating her company's infrastructure and her marketing goals, I asked a question that led to quite a revealing path. "Annette," I said, "you've got a great business model here, but why do you serve only one division of one large company?" I felt that Annette had all of her eggs in one basket, but figured there was a very good reason. The answer that Annette shared was that she really didn't give much thought to expanding to other divisions because it felt overwhelming to her and she wasn't sure how she could achieve it. Clearly, Annette's business was in need of a growth strategy that she could embrace. It was time to get to work!
As we worked on Annette's growth strategy the pieces began to fall into place — yet Annette wasn't taking the steps to implement them. "Hummm, I know what's going on here," I thought. Annette was afraid of something — we just needed to find out what and push through it! Annette didn't know that she was afraid of something yet, but I was confident that soon we'd figure it out and push toward that next milestone.
So, I simply asked (and you might ask yourself this same type of question — just for fun.) "Annette, what would happen if you expanded upon your business model and began serving 20 or more clients?" The exchange went something like this:
"Well, I'd be rich!" she replied.
"Rich is awesome!" I said. "What else?"
"I'd be able to hire other people to do all of this work." Annette replied eagerly.
"I like the sound of that," I said, "is there more?"
"Well, I guess I'd have to do something else with my time." (Now we're getting there.)
"What else would you do Annette?" I asked.
"Something that's very important to me, yet I don't do it. I wonder why?" Annette replied. (Now Annette was asking herself some questions, that's good.)
"What's that Annette?" I prompted.
"I would like to inspire other female business owners so they know that they can achieve their own dreams." Annette said in a passionate tone.
"Wow Annette! That's amazing. It's a wonderful dream, and it would have an incredible impact on so many entrepreneurs!"
Then I asked, "What would you have to do to reach all of these women?"
Now, we hit our big stumbling block, the massive wall on the other side of Annette's comfort zone. It was clear in Annette's tonality, when she replied, "I would have to speak to them, perhaps in a large audience or even on the phone."
Long pause and then she added, "I really don't have anything important enough to share. I don't know if they'd want to hear what I have to say." Said Annette in a quiet voice.
Me: "Annette, have you ever heard a successful female business owner speak at a conference or seminar? Have you ever left a room feeling inspired by the words of another female entrepreneur?
"Of course!" she said, "All of the time. But this would be different; it would just be me speaking."
Well, you know where we went from there. As we continued coaching Annette learned to embrace the value of all that she had to share and to get past her fear of public speaking. Today, about 2 years later, Annette has broken the 8-million dollar mark! She stays in touch and remains in a humble place; yet she's reaching out to countless female entrepreneurs in a way that only Annette could. She has achieved not one, but several of her life-long dreams — much to the benefit of others.
Do you feel a fear related to achieving higher levels of success? Simply ask yourself, "what if" and listen for a response that doesn't feel so good. Your discovery may open the path for you as it did for Annette.
Marla Tabaka is a small-business advisor who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She has over 25 years of experience in corporate and start-up ventures and speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness.