You are building the wrong business.
The little voice in my head kept popping up everywhere – while I was washing the dishes, checking Instagram, driving to the grocery store. Each time, I would “bop” it down with a giant rubber mallet in my mental game of Whac-A-Mole, assuming it conquered, only to find it popping up again in a different place.
MOLE: You are building the wrong—
ME: No! I am not building the wrong business! Bop!
MOLE: You are build—
ME: This is an important, necessary project! Wham!
MOLE: You are—
ME: It is exactly the resource I needed once. Now I can provide it for others! Slam!
The truth? I had a sneaking suspicion that the moles were onto something. But I wasn’t yet ready to admit I might be on the wrong track.
How did I get here?
My professional background is in writing and nonprofit management, and my new, fledgling business combined the two. It was like peanut butter-meets-chocolate. I could promote my services online as a consultant and coach, and also blog about the sector, sprinkling in stories from my life. Maybe it would take shape as a side-hustle and eventually grow into a full-time gig.
Practically speaking, there were many, valid reasons why I would launch and build on this idea. From my own experience, I knew that nonprofit executives needed affordable, accessible resources like downloads, guides, and tips. I also knew they need coaching and support because it can be a lonely, challenging gig. And I already had validation from friends and even strangers in the sector: “Yes, this is so great!” and “Thank you for writing!” and “I’ve needed this!”
In fact, the idea had been percolating for several years before I launched. I’d been squatting on a domain name and shell website, so by the time I got down to work, it was like, yeah, about time. Let’s do this.
The new business first came to life as a few blog posts on LinkedIn. Next, I invested in a more robust email service provider, designed a logo, finished the site, and created a social media presence. I was in the midst of building a sales funnel and completing a core lead magnet, and all of it was pretty great, even impressive. I felt like a bad-ass for figuring out so much on my own.
And yet? The most engaging part of building the business was the building itself, developing my brand identity, and determining strategies to grow my audiences. When it came time to launch into the world in a bigger way, I started to have doubts. I felt a little meh and found excuses to delay taking the leap.
The fact is I wasn’t too excited about running it.
Now, as I’m writing this post, the language of my inner dialogue is practically screaming about the root of the problem: I was building an “important” and “necessary” project. I was creating the business I needed once, though not necessarily now.
I don’t know about you, but to me, my project was beginning to sound like the entrepreneurial equivalent of getting a flu shot: You know it’s important, and you even want it, but that doesn’t mean you’re jumping up and down with excitement.
What I started to realize was that my new business lacked the key ingredients I needed to be successful and sustainable: It lacked energy, fun, and passion.
I put down the mental mallet.
Ok moles, I said. I’m listening.
NEXT EPISODE: The path to enlightenment is more like a mountain bike trail, with steep grades and uneven terrain, than a walk on the beach.