I’ve seen hundreds of women launch businesses - from my clients to my peers, to myself of course. There’s a common journey we all face when we start a business. What most people don’t understand is that building a business is an emotional rollercoaster. There are ups and downs along the way - but since we don’t realise this, too many people give up as soon as they hit a tough patch.
Here are the six stages of business, and how to make it through each phase...
Phase 1: Pain
Right at the start, we don’t know anything about business, or the opportunities available. All we know is that we are UNHAPPY. Whether it’s our job, our pay, our freedom to travel, our time with our kids - we know we want a better lifestyle. We are in pain. Unfortunately, 90% of people just accept their fate and stay in pain all their lives.
They don’t ever take the time to discover that there’s a better way of life out there. Or (worse) they DO stumble upon these opportunities. They do find people who can show them the way - this blog post is case in point - but they don’t ACT. They scroll away, or unsubscribe, or just don’t even notice.
How to Know if You’re in Pain
You’re stuck. You’re trapped. You’re unhappy. You hate Mondays, or even weekdays in general. You get serious Sunday Blues. You live for the weekend, just trying to make it through the week. Everyone you know has a job like yours, and they live 'normal' lives. But somehow, even though you have no idea how it could work, you know there is a different destiny out there for you.
How to Move from Pain to Inspired
To get to the next stage, you need to make a decision. You need to decide that the life you are living is NOT what you want, and you need to dream up what would make you happy. More travel? More money? Time off? Fulfilling work? What’s the big dream for you?
Then, you need to take ACTION. Just a baby step! Find some people who are living the life you want. Follow their social media. Subscribe to their email lists. Start reading and learning from them. By putting yourself in proximity with these people, you start to see that your crazy pipe dream of a lifestyle is a real possibility.
Phase 2: Inspired
Once you start to believe that this other lifestyle is a possibility for you, you get inspired! Suddenly you have a reason to live again! You jump out of bed to read a blog post on business before work. You listen to podcasts on the train. You’re genuinely happy when the train is delayed because it means you can finish your chapter in that entrepreneur’s biography, or that marketing how-to book.
At some point in your Inspired stage, you start to see business opportunities for yourself. You start to play with ideas. You’re always scribbling notes of things you could do. Finally you hit on something that makes you go YES! You are unstoppable!! Until you hit phase 3, that is...
How to Know if You’re in Inspired
Your previous Pain quasi-depression has lifted - you’re jumping out of bed, you’re staying up late in the night reading, you’re on fire! You suddenly have so much energy! You can take on anything! You dream of your new lifestyle, how you’ll spend 6 months a year in Thailand, or chill in your local cafe on a weekday, sipping an almond milk latte as you type out an inspiring blog.
How to Move from Inspired to Overwhelm
The natural consequence of being Inspired, is that you start to take ACTION. You start to read, you start to plan. Your start to research all your ideas. You want your business started yesterday. But in taking action, you realise just how much there is to know. You’ve opened a Pandora’s box, and it’s totally overwhelming.
Phase 3: Overwhelm
When you start to take your dream out of your head and into reality, suddenly you realise just what a monster you’ve taken on. You realise that there are 3,472 blog posts to read on every topic, and everyone tells you to follow a different strategy. You’ve signed up to everyone’s emails, and they all want you to build your business THEIR way. One person tells you Facebook is dead; the other says your business will fail unless you take his Facebook ads course. You feel totally lost.
You have no idea how to actually get your business going. Worse, you’re now spending hours per night reading all this stuff, and your relationships are starting to suffer.
How to Know if You’re in Overwhelm
You aren’t sleeping enough. Your partner and friends are complaining. You haven’t called your parents in weeks. Your business dream has become this big worry instead. You feel like you’re sinking in quicksand, and you don’t know how you can get out. You start to think about giving up.
How to Move from Overwhelm to Terrified
When you’re deep in overwhelm, you have two choices. Option one: you give up. Most people take this option - it just seems too tough to work it all out.
To move from Overwhelm to the next phase, you need to get out of the quicksand. You have to take the second option: get help. This tends to be where you take the leap of faith and invest in a course here and a course there, trying to figure out how they piece together. It may even be that you are a machine and read every piece of free content out there, implementing as you go. Either way, you’re still confused, and still hustling way too hard.
Phase 4: Terrified
In Terrified, suddenly your business isn’t just a dream. Well, you still don’t have a business yet - but emotionally you are too invested in it to back down. You still don’t really know what you should do to make your business a reality, but you do have a few moving pieces. You bought that Pinterest course, so you are Pinteresting away. And you know you should get a website up and running, so you invest in a course for that. But you’re still unsure what you sell or how to find clients.
How to Know if You’re in Terrified
You’ve likely now invested money in your business, and you can’t back away. That terrifies you. What terrifies you more though, is the idea of giving up and going back to your 9-5 for the rest of your life. You’ve had a taste of freedom, and you can’t ever go back.
How to Move from Terrified to Progress
You’ll be happy to hear that the next phase gets easier! To get out of the funk of Overwhelmed and Terrified, you need to get a strategy. You need to get serious about your business. You need to learn how to build it in the most efficient manner. Usually this involves dropping all these little courses and endless blogs, and getting yourself into a proper business programme.
Think of it like business university - rather than taking random classes in Ancient Greek and Anthropology 101, you need to take a full 'honours degree' in how to build a business. You need a comprehensive programme. That's how you will learn what you need to know and build your business.
Phase 5: Progress
Progress feel goooood! Once you’re in Progress, everything starts to feel a bit easier. You start taking tangible action. Little by little, your business dream goes from a big, messy, terrifying monster to an organised, streamlined, powerful force for good in your life.
Usually in Progress, you work steadily without total overwhelm (though there are always fears to confront in business!). It might not seem like anything big is shifting, but you’ll look back in 6 months or so and say “wow, I created all that?!”
How to Know if You’re in Progress
You’re in Progress when you have a strategy, or plan, to follow that you know will work. Usually you are in a business programme and you can just follow along. Your friends start to be impressed. You start to gain traction in your business. You may or may not have left your job by this point, but you feel you know what to do to get clients.
How to Move from Progress to Growth
To get to the next phase, your business needs to solidify. You need to implement systems, and start to get into a routine. You have a strategy, and following it doesn’t seem scary anymore. To get to Growth, usually you start to book clients more consistently. You master the skills you learned in your business programme. Your income starts to become consistent. Hopefully you leave your job!
Phase 6: Growth
Growth is even better than Progress! In Growth, amazing shifts happen. You start to realise the unlimited possibility of running a business online. When you first dreamed of your business, way back in Inspired, I bet you wanted to replace your salary - earn something like $5,000 a month consistently. If you could do that, you thought, your life would be made.
Well, when you hit Growth, you realise you could add a zero to that monthly income figure. Maybe even two zeros. it becomes pretty obvious to you how you could scale your business, have more impact. You realise you have a platform, and you can be a force for change. I’m not saying it’s easy to hit a million dollars in business - but suddenly you hit that realisation that it’s a possibility for you.
How to Know if You’re in Growth
You make consistent income with your initial product or service. You start to scale and add new ways to work with you - passive income, or leveraged programmes. You hire a team. Your business systems get even more important.
Usually at this point, investing in your business isn’t even a question. You join top level masterminds to make sure you are surrounded by the best minds to help you drive your business forward. You know you need to take the leap of faith and invest in your business before you hit the next level of success.
These six phases aren’t a one-time thing: you’ll go through them to hit your first level of success - say replacing your salary consistently. To add a zero, you have to go back through these six levels again. Then, to scale again, you know this cycle awaits you.
But each time, it gets easier. You know the Overwhelm and the Terrified are coming, so you don’t let them dissuade you. You’ve developed resilience, and you can make it to the top.
You also get to choose how long you stay in each phase. If you want to minimise your Pain - take action. If you want to minimise your Overwhelm or Terror - invest in a comprehensive business training programme. You get to decide how long you torture yourself for, and how quickly you choose the solution!
Which phase of business are you currently at? Leave me a comment and let me know!