I am one year into my journey as an entrepreneur–and I am absolutely terrified. As I write this message, I am overcoming my own crippling anxiety to be transparent, in the hopes that it will help others find a new perspective on their own situation.
I am feeling overwhelmed.
I have so many possibilities before me that it is difficult to focus. Instead of the horse who speeds out of the gate at the beginning of the race, I am lurking at the starting line, still trying to figure out if I am in the favored lane to win.
So, I’m writing this to encourage myself to simply start running.
Over the next few posts, I’ll take a journey through the past year, sharing my own ups and downs:
On September 15, 2014, I wrote a farewell email to my colleagues at Deloitte. I summarized what I felt were my major accomplishments during my two years with the firm, and shared with them my plans to pursue writing and speaking full-time. At the time, I was confident that I would have the first draft of my book finished by December 2014.
Because, why not?
I did manage to complete an 85-page book draft by December of that year, but the quality was lacking. I have to say that the individuals who read my draft were very kind in their feedback. However, they let me know that it read more like a memoir than a self-help book.
Had I been able to distance myself from their feedback, I could have looked at that book as a draft, and started learning about ways to improve it.
Instead, I felt that I was not yet a good writer, and the draft has largely been left untouched.
A few months later, I had the idea to start working on an ebook that would help individuals find health plans on the U.S. Health Insurance Marketplace. It was an experience that I had recently gone through, saving myself nearly $140/month in premiums by moving from a COBRA plan to Covered California (the health insurance exchange in California). I wrote the book, and shipped it off to several friends with public health experience. Their feedback was largely positive, and a few even took the tips I provided for a trial run, in one case resulting in savings of $200 per month in premiums.
Then, I attended a workshop where a successful publisher recommended that I not even think about publishing a book until I had 150,000 people on my email list. At that time, I had roughly 100. My book was already loaded on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), and was just waiting for me to hit send.
I trembled, and the book sat unpublished for three months.
One day, I had conversation with my business coach, who knew exactly how to get across to me. She said,
How dare you to be so selfish to have this knowledge and not share it with others?
That really shook me up. I was used to providing people with free tips through social media, my e-mail newsletter, and my website, a platform that I pay hundreds of dollars per year to maintain. And yet, I was hesitant that the moment I started to promote my own books, people would interpret it as selfish and unsubscribe.
So, I went back to publishing my inspirational newsletter, and was very careful to make sure that I did not regularly promote my own services. And guess what happened?
Someone read my “free” inspirational newsletter and immediately unsubscribed!
I could kick myself. I learned that unless I put information out on a platform that will reach others, they will not receive my help. In the meantime, I would be serving smaller than my calling. And people would still unsubscribe.
Then, something else happened. People I had never come into contact with started subscribing to the site, and replaced the unsubscribers. This is what growth looks like. And the only way I can make it happen is to keep putting out good information.
So, now I am passing this lesson on to you:
Stop playing small.
Figure out what you are capable of, what you are good at, and fix yourself to start doing those things.
I will go first. I blended my research background in public health with my firsthand experience as a patient to write an ebook on choosing health plans using the U.S. Health Insurance Exchange. It is perfect for anyone looking for a plan for themselves or their dependents. It is available on Amazon for $2.99, and is free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. If you know anyone who is self-employed, thinking of leaving their job, or needs a lower expense plan for a dependent, please share it with them.
Now, how are you getting in your own way? What are you willing to do about it?