Last Updated on May 31, 2021 by Admin
Have you ever dreamed of starting your own business?
Women make up about 36% of business owners around the world, and the number of women-owned businesses have increased by 114% over the last 20 years.
With so many small businesses out there, especially in the coaching, health and wellness, and consulting industries, it’s important to set yourself apart.
Starting a business that’s aligned with your strengths and passions is one way to stand out from the crowd and attract your dream clients.
Using your unique blueprint, you can start a business that works for you, instead of trying to fit yourself into someone else’s mold.
Here’s how to start a business using your strengths:
1. Visualize Your Future
Visualizing is one of my favorite exercises. Having a clear vision of where you want to go or the kind of life you want to live gives you the clarity you need to identify the steps or the path to get there. Without that clear vision, you could be driving your car and getting off the wrong exits every time.
One way to visualize your future is to start with a visualization to help you connect with your future self. Start by closing your eyes if that feels good to you, and taking a few deep breaths. Notice anywhere you may be holding onto tension and release it. Soften your forehead, your jaw, your neck and shoulders. Breathe normally, feeling calm and relaxed.
Then, picture yourself living a day in your future life. As you create this mental image, consider:
Where are you?
What are you doing?
Who else is with you?
What are you doing for work?
What customers or clients are you serving?
What are you wearing?
What is your schedule like?
How are you feeling?
What images or phrases came to mind?
I love doing this visualization exercise and feeling into a day in my future life. By creating this mental picture in your mind, it gives your brain something to hold on to. It’s like imprinting a memory, yet you haven’t experienced this day yet.
This works the same way as fear. Your brain can’t tell the difference between real fear and perceived fear. If you imagine you are standing on the edge of a cliff, or if you watch a video where it looks like you are riding on a roller coaster, your brain can’t tell whether that is happening to you for real, or if it is in your mind. You still have a fear response either way – your heart might start to race, your palms may get sweaty.
The same goes for visualizing your future. Your brain doesn’t know if that’s happening to you right now, if that was a memory, or if that hasn’t happened yet. And it stores that image either way. When you pay attention to how you’re feeling or what you want to feel, the image becomes especially strong.
You can repeat this exercise as part of your morning routine to keep the image strong and keep your goals at the top of your mind.
To integrate your visualization, write about your Day in the Life in your journal. This is one of my favorite exercises for envisioning my future and setting tangible goals for myself.
The last time I did this exercise was when I was interviewing for my current job. I wrote about what I’d be doing, how I’d be spending my day, the team I’d work with, every detail, down to a trip to the US Midwest for a client project. A few months into my job, I reread that prompt, and I realized I was doing exactly what I had written down. I even took a few trips to Milwaukee, WI for a client project. You can’t make this up!
Once you have a clear picture in your mind of how you’re living your future life, think about your schedule. Is there anything about your future life that you can start doing today? What kind of business model will allow you to realize this schedule? How can you arrange your schedule to support this kind of business?
Create a “future self” schedule, then set it aside and move on to the next activity.
2. Identify Your Unique Blueprint
One of the biggest struggles I hear from women I coach is that they feel stuck in their job or feel undervalued at work or feel like they could be doing more. They don’t know what that is, but they know there’s something else out there.
Over the years, I’ve realized that a lot of the conflict we experience at work stems from a misalignment of our values and strengths. If you feel disengaged or undervalued at work, it’s likely that you’re not using your strengths every day. If you feel like you’re not in the right organization, there might be a mismatch between your values and the company’s values.
The thing I love most in the world is to help women align their career with who they are. And in my Confident on Purpose Mastermind, I help women create businesses that align with their unique blueprint. Two areas of that blueprint are: your core values and your strengths.
Core values are the fundamental beliefs you have about your life. They guide your behaviors, decisions, and actions. They bring about a sense of purpose and self-worth. They remind you what’s important to you and what you want more of in your life. When you know what’s important to you, you can live in alignment with those values. This leads to greater fulfillment, clarity and self-awareness. This self-awareness allows you to discover your purpose.
Your life purpose is who you are at your core. Identifying your core values brings you back to your center. Values remind you who you are and who you’re meant to be in the world. They’re gentle guide rails to keep us on our path and help us choose actions that are aligned with what we really want. When we find what we really want, we can truly live our purpose.
To identify your core values, start by thinking about the times you were the most happy, proud, or fulfilled: what were you doing? What contributed to these feelings? I also like to think about what makes me pissed off. What do you get worked up about? That’s a clue to your values. Thinking about that led me to my core value of Justice.
You can also think about times or situations in your life that create conflict. If you’re working more than 50 hours each week and you feel frustrated or wish you could spend more time with your family, maybe your values are family or work-life balance. If your boss is a micromanager who constantly looks over your shoulder and pushes you on deadlines, and you feel trapped or discouraged, maybe one of your values is autonomy or independence.
Start to make a list of the values you identify from these stories or you can check out my list of common core values to get started. Write down everything that comes to mind.
Once you have a good list, see if you can combine any of the values on your list to start narrowing down to your top 5. For example, if you value philanthropy, generosity, kindness, and community service, you could combine those into a single “giving back” or “serving others” value.
Why 5? Well, if everything’s important, nothing is important. Keeping your list to five core values allows you to easily weigh options, make decisions, and align your actions with your purpose.
Once you have your top five values, write them in your journal. Then, create a definition for each of your values. Define them in your own words. What do they mean to you, specifically. This is part of what makes you unique, so it’s important to see these values in your own words.
Then, start thinking about how these play out in your life. Have you made any decisions recently by using your values? Have you stood up for yourself or someone else because of your values? When you notice how your values support you, it’s easier to figure out how to align your values to a business.
Like I mentioned earlier, if you’re feeling undervalued at work, you may not be using your strengths to their fullest capacity. According to Gallup, people who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job.
“A strength is a pre-existing capacity for a particular way of behaving, thinking, or feeling that is authentic and energizing to the user, and enables optimal functioning, development and performance.” – Alex Linley
Your strengths are the skills and experiences that strengthen you, the ones that keep you energized, and the ones that feel effortless to you. When you have the opportunity to use your strengths at work, you’re more likely to feel productive, engaged and satisfied.
And that goes for using your strengths in your own business, too. When you create a business that allows you to use your strengths every day, you’ll be excited to get up for work and bring your best every single day to support your clients and customers.
Instead of trying to “fix” your weaknesses or focusing on the tasks and skills that drain you, focus on building and honing your strengths. This way, you can identify the parts of your job or business that allow you to use your strengths each day, and the parts that don’t.
It can also be helpful to identify your team’s strengths so you can leverage each other’s talents. When working with a group, if each person is encouraged to use their strengths, the team performance increases, collaboration improves, and both individual and team engagement can skyrocket. When you see other people using their strengths and seeing great results, it can help you recognize your own strengths and contributions.
To identify your strengths, start with an assessment like Gallup’s StrengthsFinder, or a free test like HIGH5. When you take the assessments, you’ll receive a report with your Top 5 Themes (or strengths). You can read the descriptions to better understand each of the themes, highlight the words or phrases that sound most like you, and cross out the words and phrases that sound least like you.
Then, grab your journal, write down your top five strengths, and just like you did for the core values exercise, write your own definition of each strength. Describe each strength in your own words and your own language.
Then, write about how you use your strengths every day. For example, if one of your strengths is Strategic, what projects or tasks allow you to express this strength? Where are you able to see patterns and recommend paths forward? What projects allow you to analyze information to make better business decisions?
Hold on to this information and move on to the next exercise.
3. Define Who You Want to Serve
Next, it’s important to define who you want to serve. Who is your ideal client or customer? One thing I’ve learned over the years is that your business can’t just be about you and your goals – how much money you want to make or how your business can help you change your life. Living your purpose through your business is about serving others.
One of the questions in the Ikigai is “what does the world need from you?” What problem are you dying to solve? What need do you want to meet? Remember, if every woman lived her purpose, every need in the world would be met.
So, back to that ideal client: who are they? What are they struggling with? What challenges could you help them overcome? What keeps them up at night? What hopes and dreams do they have for their lives?
I really love getting very specific with my ideal client and giving them a name. You can also describe this person in detail – what does their family look like? Do they have a partner or children? What do they do for work? What do they do for fun? Where do they live? How much money do they make? You can really have fun with this! Take some time to jot down some notes in your journal.
Once you have a clear picture of your ideal client, I invite you to think about what kind of business would best support your ideal client. Is it a coaching business where you support your clients in one-on-one or group sessions? Is it a consulting business where you provide a service or complete a project in exchange for a monthly retainer or fixed fee? Are you a thought leader, and you’re writing books or articles to help your clients?
What business would allow you to serve your clients in a way that also aligns with your strengths and values? This is the important part. Because if you think the best way to serve your clients is to have a consulting business where you help your client implement workflows or technology into their business, but you’ve never even seen the technology they need – then that’s not the right model for you.
This is also where we get into the things you ENJOY doing, instead of trying to fit who you are into some cookie-cutter business model. If you don’t like being on social media, don’t be on social media. If you don’t like writing blogs, don’t write them. It’s important to spend time on the important things that will move your business forward.
Next, identify someone who has the business you want to create. What programs or services do they offer? What do you like and dislike about their brand? How can you see yourself in this kind of business?
This exercise is not to make you compare yourself to them or go deeper into an impostor spiral. This is a bit of competitive research to get to know what’s out there and what your business could really look like. Don’t compare yourself to someone who is so far along in their business – that will only set you up for disappointment.
It’s natural to feel a bit of jealousy or envy when you see someone who’s doing what you want to do, but use that feeling to empower you and motivate you to create YOUR unique business. I read somewhere that when you see someone doing something you want to do, instead of getting jealous, get inspired! They are there to show you the way. I’ve been adopting that mindset lately and it’s been a huge shift for me in terms of how I spend my energy.
4. Decide How You Want to Serve Them
Now it’s time to design your purpose-driven business. Thinking about the business or the model you want to create, what offerings or services would best support your clients? Will you offer 1:1 coaching only, or group coaching? Will you offer brand strategy or marketing services? Will you have defined packages or create custom proposals for your clients? Take time to step back and think about the services and offerings you’ll invite your clients to purchase.
Now, think about how you can differentiate yourself using your strengths and core values. There are thousands of coaches out there, and even more consultants or service-based businesses. How will you set yourself apart? With your unique blueprint!
Start by using your strengths – how do your unique strengths set your business apart? One of my top strengths is Maximizer, which means I’m obsessed with making the good great. I naturally see the best in others and what makes them unique, and I’m able to use that to help women create a business that aligns with her unique strengths. I know how to make people shine.
Then, consider how your values might shape your business or your brand. For example, one of my values is Impact, so I help women align their passions and purpose with businesses that create an IMPACT in the world. I’m passionate about changing the world and closing the gender pay gap, and those parts of my personality are infused in every part of my business. What can you infuse into yours?
Finally, I want you to consider what legacy you’re leaving with your business. Remember, your business is not about you; it’s about those you’re meant to serve. What impact do you want to make in the world? What legacy do you want to leave behind? And what ripple effect will you create?
There’s so much power in the ripple effect. You’ll never know the true impact you have in the world, because most of the time, we’re limited to witnessing the smaller and more local impacts on our family, clients, or coworkers.
Imagine the possibilities that extend from helping just one person. That person goes on to help one more person and so on. You will never meet every person you’ve impacted, and each person will be impacted in a different way. So in your journal, write about how your business will impact you, your family, and your clients.
Once you’ve completed all of these exercises, go back to the notes you took about your visualization. How does the business model you determined align with the schedule you created or how you want to spend your day?
You can use your strengths to start a business you love by visualizing your future, identifying your unique blueprint, defining who you want to serve, and deciding how you will serve them. Remember: your business is not about you and your goals. It’s about the people you serve. Your business can create a ripple effect that improves lives around the world.
Take action now: Grab your journal and start with the visualization exercise. From there, follow the steps to identify your core values, strengths, and who you want to serve. Then, consider what kind of business and what services would support your ideal clients.
Sign up for the free masterclass, Thrive Beyond the 9-5, where you’ll learn how to turn your strengths and passions into a thriving business. You’ll learn how to leverage your strengths, skills, and career experience to start a business that aligns with who you are, so you can get paid for what you already know – at double (or triple!) your current rates. Click here to sign up for instant access to the free training!