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The little voices of doubt that nagged away inside my head had found themselves a human host. As my business partner yelled insults across the office, I felt fairly certain it was time to call in a lawyer.
From corporate career-girl, to published author, to start-up entrepreneur, and now a messy legal wrangle. It had been an action-packed few years.
In 2010, I put years of dreaming into action, quit my job and together with my friend Em, set off on a mission to write a book. We interviewed the country’s most inspiring women (from Everest climbers and rock band photographers, to computer scientists and famous authors) and asked them how they turned their dreams of success into reality.
After our book was published, I launched the “More To Life Than Shoes” women’s network (named after the book). With groups around the country as well as an online hub, I helped hundreds of women grow their businesses.
In 2012, I launched my second business, a PR and marketing consultancy called Media Darlings.
But, as the business grew, so did my self-doubts.
But instead of facing up to my inner-critic, I brought in a business partner to help me.
I guess, on a deeper level, I still didn’t believe I had it in me to be successful.
It soon became clear that we had very different ways of working. While she wanted to target big ticket clients, I was focussed on helping small businesses grow.
Putting it politely, I thought she didn’t listen to our clients and lacked integrity.
And because I didn’t agree with her way of doing things she accused me of ‘playing small’, and tried to coax me into methods, outfits and even a hairstyle that suited her expectations of me.
But for me, Big Business wasn’t about going after bigger and bigger clients.
Or pretending to be something I’m not.
She had to go.
After a considerable and not-inexpensive legal wrangle, I removed my business partner.
I closed the business and climbed on the sofa, where I stayed, nursing my rage and bruised ego and attempting to rebuild my confidence.
By the end of 2013, I was all fired up and ready to jump into business again. I grew my client base, wrote another book and secured a contract working with startups at a London-based university.
On paper I was successful. But I didn’t feel that way.
While I was helping my clients overcome their confidence issues, grow their authority and take their businesses to the next level, I was locked in battle with my own self-doubts.
Unless I took a big sideways step out of my own way, I’d never live up to my full potential.
Something had to change!
Investing in a business coach was a wise decision that brought about a painful realisation.
The ex-business partner was right – I was playing small.
But she was completely wrong about how to deal with it. I didn’t need to pretend to be something I’m not. I needed to embrace all of me, even the little quirk I’d always believed to be a huge flaw.
I’ve got a little voice.
Really little. Like, 8 years old little.
It has its advantages; I could do voice-overs for cartoons, or work on some kind of dodgy phone sex line; the take-away delivery guys always know it’s me when I ring up; and, of course, I’m awesome at swearing!
But, professionally, it’s been a bit of a problem. Over the years, I’ve been sent off to all kinds of elocution lessons to help me channel my inner Margaret Thatcher and get some gravelly gravitas. Talk about giving a girl a complex.