Mark Silver is the founder of Heart of Business, Inc. Since 1999 he’s helped thousands of people in small business fully integrate their heart, integrity and spirituality into effective business practices. Today, he’s taking us behind the scenes of what it was like taking the leap into self-employment.
Needing to go it alone
When I started out, I was working part-time as the office manager for another coach and coaching a few clients within her business. I realized I needed to go out on my own.
As soon as I did, I believe 4 clients came in, all happy that I was no longer working with the other coach. At that point, I felt a surge of, “Wow! This can work!”
Although that was one of the first moments, there have been many moments like that along the way. What was really significant was when I realized not only could I make a living, but when I had the felt sense that I no longer needed to carry the business, that it had developed to the point where it could carry me, it had its own momentum. I remember how relieved, and open, and lighter I felt.
I love the start of the day, just sitting down to what’s in front of me. I also love working with clients. I said on a call recently, “You’d think I would get bored working with the same issues, but when someone has a real live issue, a real business, real dreams, and a real challenge, I’m so happy to dig in. So fun!”
Growing and learning
My parents owned a store that had been my grandfather’s, and my mom had started several small businesses when I was a kid, so I always had the full support of my family. I’ve been very fortunate in that way, because not everyone has that. When my parents still had the store, my dad and I would have long conversations about our respective businesses.
The greatest challenge I’ve faced being self-employed has been leadership. Growing from being self-employed to having a team, and a company, is without a doubt the biggest challenge and biggest growth curve I’ve ever been on.
I had to humble myself, lean into my team, and learn from anyone I could. I had to hire people better than I am for what they do, and then trust them.
The thing is, I’m a focused and committed person; I stick with things a long time. I’ve never thought about throwing in the towel. I’ve thought about changing from having a team to going back to self-employed when it seemed just too hard, but I’ve never seriously considered leaving being self-employed.
At this point, Heart of Business has a small team, and I love them as friends. One unexpected thing has been discovering how much I enjoy working on a team. I’m much more productive when I have people around me, even if it’s virtual.
The money stuff
I’ve invested in many aspects of my business: Systems. Hardware. Staff. Design. Website. Applications. Classes. Spiritual development. Coaching. Consulting.
I’m an avid learner, and when I don’t know something I lean in. I’ve sometimes invested in things too early, and sometimes done the DIY thing too long. It’s hard to tell in the moment, so you just make your best guess.
Before starting my business, I’d describe my relationship to money as: Terrified, frozen, collapsed, ignorant. Now I can have fear and other emotions come up, but I’m much more resourceful and trusting. (And definitely have financial systems in place!)
The real difference isn’t my relationship to money, it’s the deepening of my spiritual path, and my access to my own heart, regardless of challenges.
What you should know
My advice for others running their own business? There is no single “missing piece”. Building a business is not rocket science, but nor is it paint-by-number. There are specific development stages a business goes through, and you need to know which stage your business is in and what it needs at each step, so you know where to prioritize your efforts.
There’s always more to do than there is capacity to do it. I know of a company that has a team of more than 12 people that is still overwhelmed and beyond their bandwidth.
You have to be able to say no. You have to be able to choose your priorities. And you have to learn to trust your heart that when you need to rest, you rest.
As told to our Community angel, Madeleine Forbes.
Over to you
Saying “No” can be one of the hardest things for us to do when we’re self-employed. How do you stay focused on what matters to you? Share your tips for trusting your heart and following your priorities below.
P.S. PASS IT ON
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© Corrina Gordon-Barnes