Change Catalyst with Shanna Mann: Strategy & Support for Sane Self-Employment

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Abigail’s Intro Post: Unicorn Bad Ass

This is the first post (of many!) from Abigail, talking frankly about the experience of building her business. I’m sure you’ll find that some of it sounds similar to your experience of the process as well.

Wow. It’s not every day I am likened to one of the Idols of the Internet Menagerie. And from someone who seems to have it all together, someone that I admire. :fangirls out: (I’m a HUGE fan of Shanna’s.)

I was (honestly, VERY) surprised when Shanna suggested the #InsideMyMicroBiz experiment. In my mind, I’m a flailing, disorganized, flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants business owner and I’m still not fully convinced she didn’t pick me because I’m her My Fair Lady Eliza more than a mythical Unicorn.

I’d guess that most microbusiness owner can relate to that, or could have at one point. We’re trying so hard to look like we’ve got our shit together, while inside, let’s face it, it feels like being faced with a kitchen that looks like someone threw a cup of Panic Berries, a quarter cup of premium Self Doubt powder, and an a splash of I Have Lost My Mind in a blender with no lid and then hit “Puree.” Oh, and you have guests that just pulled up in the driveway. THIS is what running your own business feels like most of the time.

And yet, we love it.  We come back to it over and over. For all the anxiety and not sleeping and ramen noodles, it’s exhilarating.

Abigail’s Intro Post_ Unicorn Bad Ass

For me there is no sweeter success than having some part of my microbusiness come together and work, than accomplishing whatever goal it was I set.

And those times, oh, we’ll proudly share them, celebrate them; we’ll show off our clean kitchen to the guests who can’t see the puree of our heart and psyche clinging to the ceiling corner. We smile, we laugh, we happy-dance, and then when the party leaves for home, we exhale and are faced with that puree of panic, anxiety, self-doubt, and that oh-shit sensation that comes with unknowns-that-just-became-known behind the toaster, and between the cookbooks, and in dozens of other nooks and crannies, that we still to clean up, and we still haven’t managed to eat a damn thing.

We’re trying so hard to look like we’ve got our shit together, while inside, let’s face it, it feels like being faced with a kitchen that looks like someone threw a cup of Panic Berries, a quarter cup of premium Self Doubt powder, and an a splash of I Have Lost My Mind in a blender with no lid and then hit “Puree”.

And in some form or fashion, we ALL deal with this.

But there is this expectation to put on a good face, to look successful, so most of us don’t talk about it. We read untold numbers of blog posts and articles about it, but admit we’re human and riding the roller coaster of microbusiness ownership without a seat belt?

Hell NO.

We’d lose our clients, our customers, the respect of our peers, we’d break all those rules that you can find in supposed-guru blog posts about how illusion is your friend and perception is everything. We will not show weakness. We will not be vulnerable. We will be heroes – WE ARE MICROBIZ SPARTA!

Unicorn Superpower:  Distinguishing Truth from Deception

I have news for you: being MICROBIZ SPARTA it’s all bullshit.

As much as we love it, we’re all scared half out of our wits, and my strategy over the last few years has been that our clients, our customers, as much as they want reassurance, they want to be able to relate to us more than they want perfection, they want to see how we’ve faced reality, we’ve taken our stumbles and face-firsts, and kept going, hell, succeeded. They want to be INSPIRED, encouraged, they want to know the impossible in their world is possible.

For some people, like Shanna, the impossible she’s proving possible is taking a just barely viable small business mashing metal and wax around and turning it into a jewelry design house run by an internationally collected painter.

For me, it’s creating little gorgeous, smart, classy things for a huge ‘niche’ market that is so underserved that I now know more people who won’t wear jewelry than who will, and making that my living, my calling, my career. For you, it’s going to be something else, something very much yours.

Unicorn Superpower: Dispelling Illusion

Whatever our impossible is, whatever market, whatever approach, whatever direction your impossible is steering you in, one of the most empowering Unicorn spells out there I know of is Dispel Illusion.

Like most good spells, it’s even better when whole groups cast it. It gets more powerful, and it more effective, and it makes any other spells out there even better. Unfortunately, in casting it, it also means that the caster is going to lose their illusions. (You know, like in games, where if you cast a spell when invisible, your invisibility drops? Yeah, like that.)

So, I’m starting the first cast with agreeing to be Shanna’s Unicorn; I’m dropping my invisibility. I’m going to risk (according to gurus, at least) clients, customers, and the respect of my peers. I’m going to risk it on the chance that my dispelling the illusion and sharing what goes on #InsideMyMicroBiz will help us all defeat something that no amount of invisibility can sneak past, that no amount of armor can protect against: the fear that we’re not good enough to do this, that we can’t do this, that we’re Doing It Wrong.

And hey, guys? While I can talk in metaphors and analogies and seem all inspiring, guys, really, I am just a few hairs on the still-holding-it-together side of terrified. Not because I’m afraid of sharing – I’m all for sharing if I think it will help someone get through something I’ve already been through.

No, I’m shaking in my boots because, even though I know that the act of starting my microbusiness (my own hero journey, really) and getting to the point where I start worrying about Big Things says that I can probably do this, and even though I know that there is no Right Way to succeed (sorry, 15 Steps To Success Blog Post People), I’m still awake nights going over just how many ways I can Screw It All Up. You know, if I’m about to make a total idiot out of myself in front of Everyone, if maybe my illusions are so good that even I don’t notice them all, and that once they come down, I’m really screwed. (ed. note: This is super-duper my thing, too.)

You know what helps though? Knowing that we’re probably ALL feeling the exact same thing. And, you know, that maybe we’ve all heard so many times about the Importance of Being a Horse For Success, and How to Be A Successful Horse that we’re all now scared to be Unicorn Bad Ass.

So, here’s to all of us not-yet-knowing that we’re heroes-in-the-making for our own stories, and to ALL of us discovering how to be Unicorn Bad Ass.

I hope you enjoyed Abby’s post. We’ll dig into the nuts and bolts of business buildings in future episodes. We’ve only just begun.

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