A few truths about my first 2 years of business...
I’m about 3 months shy of my 2 year business-versary and the New Year seems like a good time to reflect on the journey thus far.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: starting a business is a rollercoaster. Sometimes it’s so fun you could scream, other times you’re one downturn away from losing your lunch.
The 2nd year has been completely different than the first. Both have had their ups and downs. Honestly, I’m rolling into year 3 feeling more confused than ever. That’s why I’m writing this now. I’m in the thick of it, working my way out of the mess, and hope it’s helpful to read if you’re in the same boat.
Let’s just dive right in, shall we?
The Top 3 Things That Went Terribly, Horribly Wrong
My life fell apart and it severely affected my business.
When you’re the only one running the show, there are no sick days or mental health days. Actually you can take as many of these days as you want but everything in your business will come to a screeching halt. I really tried to keep things going and keep it together, but at the end of the day , my broken heart just wasn’t in it. The business suffered.
I made trades instead of money. I also volunteered a LOT of time and resources.
I did a LOT of trades this year. Some were awesome and mutually beneficial and others not quite so much. There’s a lot of discrepancy over whether you should do trades, how many you should do, etc… A lot of people say yes and a lot say no. Moving forward, I’m saying ‘no’ to trades. Not because I think they’re bad. Simply because, energetically, they don’t move my business forward. Moving into year 3, I’ll charge a fair price for services and pay a fair price for services.
In addition to trades, I gave a lot of time and energy and services to friends, connections, and organizations that I care about. I feel proud of these things but I definitely gave away more than I had to give. Storytelling is so life-giving and important to me, it’s almost impossible to say no to an opportunity to help someone out. In looking back at my year, I prioritized giving over sustaining. Don’t get me wrong, in year 3 I plan to give a LOT away, I’ll just put systems in place so that I can give freely instead of draining my resources.
I said ‘Yes’ to everything and lost sight of my Why.
The thing about Storytelling is that can apply to a wide range of projects, businesses, and opportunities. This is both the beauty and the curse of it. Over the course of the last year I have worked with filmmakers, diplomats, non-profits, healers, artists, photographers, writers, engineers, and scientists. I have done everything from uncovering someone’s superpower to helping them form a narrative arc for their non-fiction book. I have written the messaging for a tech website and then helped a soon-to-be-supermodel talk to herself more kindly. While these projects were interesting and enlivening, I didn’t realize that I was losing my vision in the process. Just the other day, my best friend asked, ‘so, what exactly do you do?’ and I honestly couldn’t answer her.
The Top 3 Things That Went Really, Flipping Well
I gave 10 talks this year!
This was the first time that I had EVER shared my own story in front of a room and I’m so proud to say that I just went for it. Those days were some of the best of the year. There’s an exquisite and unmatchable energy that happens when the lightbulb goes on for 100 people at once. My talk at Boulder Startup Week was the 3rd most popular talk of over 275 talks. My talk at StartingBloc DC was the highest rated talk of the week. It’s not easy, and I still shake for a full hour before getting on stage, but I’ve really found a love in public speaking.
I up-leveled my website.
The first iteration of my website was good, this iteration of my website is GREAT. I did the whole thing myself and, while I’m proud of that, know that I can hire help in the future.
I learned more this year than I have in the last 5 combined.
With clients I learned about science and government and filmmaking and poetry and mental health and love. In business I learned about communication and compromise and finance and taxes and marketing and impact. I learned so much about who I am and who I’m not. What I want and what I don’t. I could write another post about all the crazy things I learned, but let it suffice to say: I’m a kinder, wiser, and more humble human after this trip around the sun.
Looking Forward: What’s Next for Tell Your Damn Story?
Tell Your Damn Story is about to change in some pretty BIG ways.
The core of the business will remain the same. We will still exist to help you tell a better story. A story that makes the right things happen in your career, business, and life. It’s just that our method for doing so will be changing dramatically. We are not adding anything new, just getting closer to the gold of what’s already there.
As of March 2019, we will no longer be offering coaching services.
Don’t get me wrong, I love one-on-one sessions. But what I’ve learned from the past two years is that I need to widen the funnel before I can narrow it. This means that 2019 will be about speaking in front of diverse rooms, leading diverse workshops, creating compelling and consistent content and maintaining a conversation with the people with whom the message resonates. Once I get more clarity on the services that are wanted and needed, I may revisit coaching in 2020.
We’re going on ‘tour’ from February - September and leading workshops all over the USA
This is the most exciting and terrifying development. I said I’m going to widen the funnel and talk to people about storytelling and I meant it. Over the next 7 months, I’ll be traveling to ~14 states to meet with individuals, run workshops, give talks, and record podcasts and interviews. I’ve always taken a very grassroots approach to growth and this is no exception. Check out the full line-up here and if I’m coming through your town, please reach out! I’d love to chat :)
Thank you to everyone who has supported me on this journey thus far. I am forever grateful and honored to have your wind in my sails as I step into year 3.
with love + stories,