Have you ever gone off course because you didn't trust yourself? I certainly did. Trusting yourself and your instinct is key in business.
So why do we often lose that trust and listen to others more? Let's discover how trusting yourself is one of the most important things you can develop for yourself.
When you're starting a business and tell others about your ideas or what you're doing, you will get a lot of opinions.
'Don't do this.'
'Do more of that.'
'That won't work.'
This will not only happen with your personal circle of friends, you'll get lots of comments on social media too.
I sometimes wonder if I'd ever have the business I have now if social media had already been there when I started.
I may not have.
The advantage of being in a bubble
I still had the 'privilege' of relative isolation.
I was living in a new country and had a limited circle of friends. The friends I did have understood nothing about my business so I didn't get a lot of business advice.
I sometimes got ridiculed though, but I will speak more about that later.
What I DID have was 10 years of business experience and a strong desire to run my business in a S.M.A.R.T.E.R. way.
I wanted to earn money while I sleep.
I wanted to have my own business entities that I could sell one day if I wanted to.
I no longer wanted to trade hours for money.
the power of trusting yourself
I knew it was possible. I was reading blogs from people who were doing it. I was listening to a few podcasts talking about it.
Most of all, I had experienced the power of SEO or Search Engine Optimization in my own business. I was able to put the websites of clients on the first page of Google for their search term.
If I could create a website on a topic that people cared about I could get lots of traffic and would be able to make money from advertising, affiliate sales and special courses and programs. I trusted myself that I could do it for myself too.
After a bit of trial and error I decided to create a website about style for women over 40. I had tapped into some of my old dreams of becoming a magazine editor. Now I could create my own magazine.
So I researched what women over 40 wanted to know about fashion and style.
I discovered that they didn't really know how to dress their changing bodies. They wanted to cover up part of their bodies more. They wanted to know what the best jeans for women over 40 were.
As it turned out, they wanted a lot of help with fashion and style. As I published more articles that they cared about, so the traffic to my website grew.
I connected with more bloggers over 40. I created a community. I started making money.
I also started posting pictures of myself in outfits. At that time, it wasn't as common as it is now so this felt a bit scary. I loved being private and invisible. But the women who read my blog wanted to see if the woman that wrote it actually had any dressing sense for herself, so I got over my embarrassment and shared my images.
prepare for ridicule or criticism
As I started spending more time on my blog and posting these pictures some of my friends and acquaintances would find this rather funny. Or they would find it rather indulgent. They ridiculed me for doing this blog. They felt it was a vanity hobby. They believed that their time on the tennis court was a better investment of their time. Telling them that this was a serious business pursuit didn't help.
It wasn't fun to get this reaction from people I socialized with. I also knew that they had no clue what they were talking about. I was creating a big asset and a lot of future financial freedom for myself, while they were playing tennis and relied on their partners for their financial wellbeing. I was stubborn and determined enough not to let it get to me too much.
Find your own business community
Of course it helped that I had found my community of bloggers by now who understood and respected what I did.
Even more fulfilling was the fact that my audience responded to my blog in a very positive way and the traffic grew each month. I was literally starting to make money while I slept from affiliate sales and advertising.
Although I was still largely working in a bubble I was increasingly craving more business advice. I wanted to grow the business further, so I started looking for business peers.
the pitfall of advice and getting too many opinions (and not trusting yourself)
Soon I attended my first conference and subscribed to multiple newsletters from the 'experts'.
'You need to diversify', they said.
'Advertising on your blog should be removed', they said.
'Create your own products & programs', they said.
'Build a team', they said.
Before long, I felt that I was doing it all wrong.
I created my first program. I minimized advertising or deleted it. I started investigating creating my own physical products.
Soon I was busier than ever doing all of these new things.
When you create a course or program, you need to promote it. You need to learn how to launch.
You need to create sale pages. Learn how to do advertising. Learn how to do copy writing.
At this time, social media had come up as well. So now I also had to do Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest.
I got busier and busier and the actual content itself suffered.
I didn't want to be one of those 'uncool' people who made their money through advertising. Advertising was bad. Only people who had their own programs mattered.
I was going to create programs. Lots of them.
First I launched my ebook. Then a second one.
Then I created my first course.
Did those make money?
Were they taking up a lot of my time and were not outperforming my other streams of income.
overwhelm and lack of trust in yourself creeps in
The more I started listening to all of the 'experts' the busier I got.
If my revenue had grown substantially with that 'busyness', it wouldn't have been so bad. The fact was that I hadn't seen a significant increase in my revenue. Instead I was spending a lot of time on activities that didn't have a high ROI while I was neglecting activities that made my business profitable and truly passive.
At some point I started to question some of the advice of the 'experts'.
Some were saying the exact opposite of what they were saying in the beginning.
Others were clearly not having success with their own methods.
Many were just making money from telling others how to make money.
And why was advertising so bad in the first place? Hasn't that always been the way that TV, newspapers and magazines have made the bulk of their money? Is advertising really ever going away? Or do companies always want to invest in getting their message in front of the right eyeballs?
Sure. Advertising doesn't look great on my website and I'm sure some visitors will find it annoying.
But is it not a fair price to 'pay' for getting high-quality content that can really help them?
"They' also said that rates for advertising would go down. That it wouldn't be profitable in the future.
Let me tell you friends: 'They' were wrong.
Over the 10 years that I've been blogging, rates have only gone up. Ever since I joined an advertising network, my revenue from advertising has almost doubled each year.
Rather than focusing my attention on product launches and programs to sell, the focus is fully back on value creation and increasing traffic.
I'm answering the questions that my readers have. I help them with their buying decisions. I give them ideas and inspiration.
Sure the style course is still there for women to purchase. But the bulk of my income comes from advertising and affiliate commissions.
The income comes from the traffic that is coming to my site. The more traffic I get, the more money I make.
That was the focus in the beginning and that is still the focus.
It's very time-effective as well. I have a team of 2 that helps me create and update the articles. I can do my work for 40+style in a few hours a week if I want to.
I don't have to do any launches.
I don't have to do any advertising.
I don't have to maintain and tweak sales pages, sales funnels etc.
Was all the advice I got wrong then?
No absolutely not.
I learned a lot from it as well, which I will discuss in a future article.
But I also wasted a lot time and focus pursuing actions that didn't align with my original vision (which was working!). For a while I thought that others knew better. That they were the experts.
Now, I realize that I am the expert.
I'm the expert in creating what I want.
The life that I want for myself.
I have created a SMART business that gives me a lot of freedom. That allows me to travel. That gives me a very steady and predictable income every single month without ever exchanging money for hours.
Some of these experts I listened too don't even have their business anymore or burned out.
Others have businesses that seem exhaustive to me with their continuous promotions of new programs and courses and big teams to manage.
Some I still follow and learn from. But I'm now very discerning about the advice that I will follow. I listen to my own gut. I trust my own expertise. Then, I take what I need to grow further.
This is not always easy. It's not easy to differentiate between what you know is right in your gut, or when you are actively resisting a new learning experience.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself when listening to the experts
When taking advice start asking yourself these questions. Then trust yourself when you come up with the answers.
Does the advice make sense for the kind of business I want to have?
Does this advice fit with my personality and personal strengths?
Does this advice align with my long-term personal goals?
Does this advice align with my personal or business values?
Of course, that is the also the way you should take in any information you get from me.
If one of your priorities is to get a business that makes you more passive income and gives you more freedom to do whatever you want to do on any single day, you are in the right place.
Have you ever felt that you were taken off course because of advice you got from an expert? What happened when you stopped trusting yourself? Let me know in the comments below.
Related articles on trusting yourself:
- How I became a confident business woman
- Passive income streams for coaches
- How to be successful in business and life