As a marketing therapist, one of my jobs is to help the people I work with discover the inner blocks that keep them from going where they say they want to go. Sometimes, we SAY we really, really, really want to create a certain business or achieve something new in our existing business, yet it never seems to happen. When this happens, there is sure to be a block or two lurking within. Once you know how to step back and listen to what you are saying to yourself, you will easily be able to identify these blocks.
A conversation with someone I had a few weeks ago is a good example. “Betty” is a small biz owner who created an online business, working diligently to create a website and some products to sell. The business didn’t succeed, so Betty, who needed income, decided to create a second business that provides services to other small business owners. She has been pretty successful at business number two, making a living but not a lot of extra money. She tells me that her true dream is to “re-establish her first business and make it successful.” I took a quick peek at the website of the defunct business and talked to Betty, and in less than half an hour found that the story she told herself effectively and completely blocked her from what she said she “really really really” wanted to do. Here’s the key – Betty’s inner talk did not at all match what she was willing to do on the outside. For every way out of the maze of “not doing what she really wants to do” she had at least two reasons why she couldn’t do it.
- Betty holds unrealistic expectations. Her stated goal was to go from zero income to $50K in the “dream” business in one year’s time. But, Betty had no written business model for her dream business, despite having worked on it for over a year. She had done no marketing research and insisted that for her market there was no way to do market research.
- Betty stated that she had time available to work on refreshing her dream business. But, when I set out a plan to create new interest and a new launch by the first of the year she quickly told me that her existing second business kept her too busy and that with the upcoming holidays she couldn’t possibly even think of starting until after the first of the year. When there is resistance to action that would make your dream actually come true, you know you’ve got an inner block.
- Betty’s big, major “you can’t get past this problem” excuse is that she has to support herself with the second business she created, so how could she possibly ever have the time and money to work on her “dream” biz? Here’s the thing – there is ALWAYS a path forward. If you find yourself, like Betty, dissing every single option then you know you aren’t willing to put your money where your mouth is. Betty could have sold her second business, but her answer back was that she could “never sell her clients to someone else as that would not be ethical.” Truth is, people sell service businesses and client lists all the time and within her own industry it’s done frequently. Betty could have outsourced the work of her second business by creating contract staff to handle that work while she worked on the “dream biz.” Her response – no, her profit margin wouldn’t be high enough and “other people” might not take care of her clients well enough. Betty could have decided to rachet up her second business, double the income, save most of that for a year or two, then close that business and have a cushion to work on the dream biz. Betty felt like that would take too long. For every potential way around her inner roadblocks she had a reason it would not work.
- When I challenged Betty to tell me what she could do rather than what she could not do, she finally was stumped. She had to face that she was not really willing to go work on her dream biz because she was unwilling to say yes to any possibility. But to save face, she switched tactics and started talking about how she “really was searching for answers and was afraid that I felt she was argumentative.” It doesn’t matter what I think, what matters is what she will do. But since I had challenged her own inner blocks she decided to give me one, and then use THAT as an excuse not to move forward – how could she work with someone who felt she was argumentative? (A label she gave herself, by the way.)
It’s a shame that Betty has convinced herself that there is no way to move forward. Her idea for her “dream biz” has merit, and she has spent time and money to create it. In fact, even what she had done became an excuse for not moving forward. Betty felt that she had already spent so much time and money on her website and a re-do of her site that she just could not justify spending more cash.
How Betty keeps her story alive (her story being that she really, really, really wants her dream biz) is to constantly ask for advice but then constantly fail to change a single belief or action. To Betty, she can’t move forward because she just can’t find the “right match” for someone to work with – conveniently blaming a potential advisor rather than herself. Betty has an answer for everything except the most important question. That question is “how can I have my dream biz?” Until Betty quits blocking every potential possibility, the truth is that she doesn’t really want her dream biz, she just wants to hold it and point to it and tell the world how tough and unfair it is that she can’t have it. There is ALWAYS a way forward when the mind and heart are open. When they are not, dream businesses don’t happen.
(c) Sue Painter