What no one tells you about owning a business - Kristen Kalp

What no one tells you about owning a business

This is what no one tells you: there is not a single minute when you ARRIVE at your perfect business.

A business is a growing, changing creature, and you’re responsible for making it serve you best. You are not beholden to anyone but yourself to make it yours, to make it successful, and to make it a joy to experience.

At a recent speaking gig, I ended a speech by encouraging everyone present to plunge into life fully clothed, right now, without hesitation and without coming up with 33 excuses why now is not the time.

Being in that pool, hugging people as they introduced themselves, awash in their love and their thanks and their giddy joy, was one of the greatest moments of my life.

Being in business is a lot like choosing to plunge into a pool, fully clothed, again and again. 

You think you’ve got the perfect bikini, and you remembered your sunscreen, and you’ve even got a beach playlist — but suddenly the party has been moved to 3am and you’re wearing cute heels and it’s time to jump in.

In this case, my perfect bikini was a keynote that was factual, relevant, and entertaining.  But not scary.  It had no hint of 3am fully clothed diving-in-ness to it.

This is what no one tells you: the terrifying stuff leads to the best stuff.

So I added stuff that scared me:

1.) leading the charge into the pool to demonstrate my point immediately after delivering my speech,

2.) letting people see me without make-up,

3.) giving those people who jumped in my phone number, and

4.) answering when they call.  Also, being more open to the people I was there to meet and address.

This is what no one tells you: the best moments of your career will happen somewhere between pee-your-pants scared and vomit-in-your-mouth scared.

It’s a little like being on a roller coaster, only there’s no defined beginning and end — you can’t count backwards knowing that only 26.8 seconds of terror remain.

This is what no one tells you: if you were on a roller coaster, you would label those same feelings you’re currently labeling ‘terror’ as ‘exhilaration’ — the full sensation of being alive, with a little fear — and you would welcome them.

I realized that my terror surrounding the keynote would lead me to the right thing, to the thing that most needed to happen in the world. So I plunged in and had a fantastic time.  And promptly came up with a more terrifying proposition.

For a while now, I’ve had the feeling that it’s time to retire my business products. Not because I don’t believe in them, and not because I don’t think they’re fantastic, but because they take up room on my plate, and I need to make space for what’s coming next.

I desperately want to change lives, to help peeps like you build better businesses, and to use my gifts in bigger and ever-more-terrifying ways.

This is what no one tells you: you will have to give something up when bigger and greater (read: more terrifying) projects beg to move to the forefront of your business.

An example.  A dear friend of mine has been pursuing fine art work more and more.  And he’s getting it.  That means saying “No” to clients he would have said “Yes” to one year ago — hell, even six months ago.  He’s terrified of turning down money, but he’s doing it anyway.  It’s his cannonball.

Another example. If you’re a wedding photographer who feels the need to shoot some boudoir work, you can always add another website for boudoir stuff and shoot both. BUT, if you’re into embracing what feels best, you could just announce that you’re now a boudoir photographer and lovingly turn away the wedding work that comes. Both end with the same results — more boudoir work — but one option is fully committed and one is not. I believe in being fully committed.

[edited to add: This is the part where I retired all of my products.]

This change allows me to keep blogging for you without having to add a line or two to point toward selling a product. It makes space for me to write and energy for me to create.

It also allows me to model the behavior I most want to see in all of humanity: cannonballing into life.