by Rhonda L. Margolis and M. Beth Page
Author’s note: This article was written before the current global crisis. We are finding these resilience practices helpful as we re-imagine our businesses. We hope you will, too, and we send our best wishes for staying safe and well.
We are successful entrepreneurs with years of experience as coaches, consultants, authors, and facilitators. We love what we do and have made deliberate choices to embrace our entrepreneurial spirit. As leadership and coach educators, we have the great pleasure of seeing new graduates strike out on their own business journeys. We are often asked, “What does it take to run your own business?”
There are many resources targeted at helping entrepreneurs make a six-figure income from their coaching business. It is important to know your market, determine your niche and brand, define your social media presence, and set income goals. We offer an alternative path to success as an entrepreneur. A path that invites you to count yourself in, as you reflect on what will be good for you and good for your business. All businesses experience cycles of abundance and cycles of scarcity. Navigating through those cycles, we have discovered there is another key ingredient to long term success and sustainability for entrepreneurs: resilience.
In this article, we offer a framework for entrepreneurship and resilience. The model we find useful is the Resilience@Work scale, comprised of the seven elements outlined below, that emphasizes psychological, emotional and physical well-being at work (McEwen, 2016).
In sharing this framework, we invite you to ensure you are counting yourself in fully to your coaching business in a way that enables you to support yourself and your clients.
Starting a new business can bring both excitement and uncertainty. At the beginning, it can be easy to say “yes” to most invitations. A full calendar is one indicator that the business is doing well. The question becomes, how well is the business owner doing?
As coaches, we emphasize the need to be ‘reflective practitioners’. In the throes of building a business, it can be easy to forget this. In the early years, as the separation between personal/family and work time became difficult to maintain, we found it helpful to take a step back, revisit what drew us to being entrepreneurs, and consider how to make choices and decisions aligned with our values and strengths.
We invite you to take a pause when seeking out or responding to new opportunities, to reflect back to your values and consider your strengths. What sparked your interest in starting or growing a business? What are the values that ground you? What are the strengths that align with the work you seek?
Finding Your Calling
What is your purpose in starting your business? When we started out, we were clear that we wanted to be ‘masters of our own time’ and ‘creators of our own endeavors’. Through generous conversations with colleagues and mentors, we fine-tuned our purpose and mission; we reconnected to what mattered most to us. These values became the touchstone by which we make intentional choices of how to use our time, where we could be of service to clients in a meaningful way, and how we could grow our businesses in the direction that brings benefit to the people and organizations with whom we work.
As you contemplate finding your own calling, what brings you profound joy? When you feel “in the flow”, what are your best moments? What awakens your heart to a sense of possibility? When do you feel most belonging and connectedness?
How do you respond to challenges, risks and setbacks? This aspect of the framework invites you to consider the points of view from which you make decisions and act in the world. Like any work environment, entrepreneurship can have its share of frustrations, difficult moments, and uncertainty.
Running your own business may have the added stress of external forces that result in uneven distributions of work. We may experience a sudden surge in business where so many clients are seeking our services that the task of managing the marketing, administration, and doing the work, becomes overwhelming. Or we may encounter a fallow period in which client contacts are quiet, or a time when a potential client chooses to work with someone else, or a client meeting to ‘pitch’ our services that didn’t go well.
Finding ways to develop an optimistic perspective and skills to reframe negative patterns of thinking can help us survive and thrive over the long term. If you find yourself thinking, “maybe it’s time to get a ‘real’ job”, or “I just don’t have the right connections to make a go of this”, what self-coaching questions could help you look at the situation in a new way? What actions could you take to re-engage with what is working and build on that? When is the last time you revisited your values and purpose, and celebrated a success? What beliefs and feelings can you bring forward that can uplift you in difficult times?
Mastering stress invites us to put routines in place to manage time and energy, to take care of ourselves, and to practice mindfulness. This element of the framework invites you to reflect on the personal routines that serve you and identify your strategies for maintaining these practices amidst lives that are often all too busy and jam packed with personal, family, and other professional commitments.
As entrepreneurs, sometimes the line between work and personal lives can become blurred. Establishing boundaries between work and home requires attention, particularly for home-based businesses. Setting clear ‘office hours’, with specific times to respond to business phone calls and emails is one way of creating the space between two worlds. What self-care strategies nourish and refresh you? What is one regular practice you could add to sustain your optimism, energy and well-being?
As coaches, we learn to explore our own personal mastery and to bring our best selves into our work. Interacting cooperatively is really about offering help and making requests. As independent professionals, we sometimes forget to make requests that will support us and our business. Look around at the people that are in your professional and personal networks. Is there someone that could help you with your business? What might be a request that you could make of this person that would allow them to contribute to your success? What might you offer to someone else?
As you reflect on the strategies that you currently have in place that support your physical, nutritional, and sleep health, what could benefit from some additional attention? In the early days of building a business, physical activity may not get calendared in; nutritional eating can be forgotten; being energized by business building ideas can interrupt sleep and a host of other impacts can be experienced as you seek to build your business. Establishing a baseline set of routines that support your health will nurture you in times of challenge and success. What is one action you might take that would support you today? Consider if you can establish a pattern of repeating this activity for the next 30 days.
In our own work, and our work with clients who are seeking greater success, one of the possibilities to explore is actively building networks. Here, the option exists to contemplate what you are doing to expand your professional and personal networks. For example, for one of our colleagues who does not typically seek out social situations, it was useful to identify a specific goal when attending networking events. This goal was to meet three people, learn a few things about each one, and give themselves permission to leave after achieving their objective. If they were feeling engaged and wanted to stay longer, then that’s what they did. What one action could you take to help you expand your personal and professional networks?
Our hope is to invite you to contemplate what specific approaches and strategies would support you in building a coaching practice that will add to your resilience. What are the strengths you can build on, the shifts you can make, and the processes and relationships that would support your bold dreams? Perhaps applying the resilience framework will spark additional considerations as you seek to build your business using an approach that will also be resilient over time.
McEwen, K. (2016). Building your resilience: How to thrive in a challenging job. Openbook Howden Print & Design, St. Marys: South Australia
Rhonda L. Margolis, EdD, PCC, CEC, is a consultant, coach, and facilitator known for her leadership in creating welcoming and inclusive workplaces. She is committed to supporting individuals, leaders, and teams to bring out the best in themselves and each other, and to building the capacity of internal leaders to transform the quality of conversations in organizations. Rhonda was instrumental in the creation, launch, and sustainability of the Organizational Coaching Certificate program at the University of British Columbia, where she is a coach educator. To learn more, visit www.rlmlearninginnovations.ca
Beth Page, PhD, PCC, CPHR Author, educator, international speaker and Dream Catcher Consulting founder Beth helps support people and organizations to honour the human dimension of change. Her books include Change Happens, Done Deal: Your Guide to Merger and Acquisition Integration. She also collaborated on a co-authored chapter in Leading with Spirit, Presence and Authenticity published by Jossey-Bass. Beth holds degrees from Pepperdine University, Western Illinois University, and Carleton University. She completed her PhD at the University of Victoria. For further information about her, visit her website: www.dreamcatcher-consulting.com