Are you as happy as you could be with your business and in your life? Happiness is something people talk about, sometimes, fleetingly. It's looked at as something to have more of, certainly. But, how often do you hear the words happiness or joy in relation to business?
For most of the world those two things do not go together. However, a key ingredient to the secret sauce of a successful business is being happy!
When we were kids, most of us were happy. We didn't know there were all of these things to not be happy about. Then it starts; we were told we were too joyful and exuberant, and we begin to tone it down. We discover that laughing too loudly or too often meets with criticism and we begin to perceive all of the stress, concern and unhappiness around us and that becomes what is normal.
Have you ever noticed that when people are having a hard time, they receive empathy, kindness and comfort; but, when someone is visibly joyful the response is often, “what drug are they on?" Perhaps it's time to make happy the new normal. Happiness may not be what you think it is!
Often people think of happiness as an enthusiastic proclamation, raucous laughter, a giddiness; and, it can be expressed that way. Happiness is something we are; it is big and peaceful. Joy is the doing of happiness, an exuberant expression. Both are powerful and important to create a dynamic and fruitful business.
Why is happiness in business important?
For starters, money follows joy, joy does not follow money! This is contrary to how most people look at finances. The prevailing point of view is, “when I have money I will (fill in the blank)!" This creates a conditional relationship that you can't have happy and fully live your life until the money shows up. The catch here is that the focus on 'not enough money' will create more 'not enough'.
What we focus on we create, and happiness is a choice. If you make choices towards what is fulfilling, enjoyable and interesting to you a priority, then that becomes your focus. This sets you up to notice the possibilities for happiness that are waiting for you to choose them. The happier you are, the more enthusiasm and joy you will have with your business.
Keys for creating happiness and joy with your business
Cultivate a rich and satisfying life and living. Take a look at what really brings you happiness and joy and do more of it! When you are living a life you enjoy it is a compliment and boost to your business.
Have you fallen into the trap of making your business your life? Here is a different proposal. Let your business enhance your life and your life enhance your business. Neither one is an island separate from the other. Dissatisfaction in one area can filter into the other very quickly. Instead of making your business the source of your life, allow yourself the freedom to do what you enjoy in all areas. As you do, more money will show up.
Create your business happy: positioning yourself for the greatest possibility. Are you in a role that you enjoy? What parts of it do you have enthusiasm for? These are some questions to play with to get clarity about what will bring the most interest and enthusiasm to your work. Also, explore whether the way you work is compatible with who you are. If you are most productive in the morning, take advantage of that. If you do best with lots of time outside, allow yourself some breaks to take a quick walk or feel the sun on your face.
Start asking open-ended questions about what you really desire and be willing to shift things accordingly. It is critical to be open to change aspects of your business at any moment in order for it to thrive. Don't let boredom, dissatisfaction or frustration take root. Use the flexibility of having your own business to your advantage and allow yourself to shine.
Your point of view creates your reality. What points of view do you have that diminish your happiness? Be willing to look for the perspectives and attitudes about business and money you have. They are changeable, and you can undo the obstacles to having joy with your business.
Some prevailing beliefs are:
- Business is serious (don't have fun with it)
- You have to work hard to be successful
- Work is tedious
- Don't be too successful
Once you discover some of your points of view, flip them 180 degrees and explore if the opposite perspective would contribute to expanding your business and your pleasure with it. Business can be fun and you can have ease with it, even when challenges come up. It all depends on the point of view you choose to take.
Own your happy! Don't fall into the trap of being at the effect of others and their attitudes or emotions. Here is something you are not taught, but which can change everything.
You are aware, very aware. Have you ever been in a great mood then spent time with a friend who is cranky and all of a sudden you are cranky too? Guess what, you picked up on it, and suddenly it seemed like yours. When that happens, it is never yours. It is your awareness of someone or something else. Simply think, “return to sender," and tap back into what is true for you.
It goes against convention to be happy when others are not. And, let's face it, we are not living in a particularly happy world right now. Being happier than the people around us is a no-no. What if the kindest choice we can make, is to live the greatest life we can? It creates an invitation and shows people something else is possible. And, being happy is alluring; the happier you are the more people will be drawn to your business. Because it is so unique, you and your business will stand out.
Be You. This may sound obvious, after all, who else would you be? However, many entrepreneurs are trying to fit into some image they bought of what a business owner is supposed to be like. There are certain norms we accept as absolute without even realizing it. Don't buy anyone else's point of view or projections about how you should be, and how your business should run. Trust that you actually do know what choices you can make that will expand your joy and happiness.
Be willing to experiment and play with some changes. They don't have to be big ones to have a wonderful impact. When you are fully willing to be you, regardless of what anyone else thinks, it is a gift to you, your business and the world.
You started your business for a reason. There was some idea or vision for how you wanted it to be, and how you wanted to be with it. Most likely, being happier and enjoying your life more was a part of it. Are creating that fully? There is no time but the present, so make choices towards YOUR happy, whatever that looks like. It will only create something greater. And, don't judge yourself if everything doesn't go as planned or as quickly as you desire. Every choice will create an awareness of a different possibility. Choosing to be happy is having your own back in a way most people don't even realize is possible. If you keep at it, soon you will notice you have more enjoyment and satisfaction, and both you and your business will thrive.
"Steal the mesh underwear you get from the hospital," a friend said upon learning I was pregnant with my first daughter.
It was the single best piece of advice I received before giving birth in December 2013. My best friend delivered her daughter eight months previously, and she was the first to pass along this shared code among new moms: you'll need mesh underwear for your at-home postpartum recovery, and you can't find them anywhere for purchase. End result: steal them. And tell your friends.
My delivery and subsequent recovery were not easy. To my unexpected surprise, after almost 24 hours of labor, I had an emergency C-section. Thankfully, my daughter was healthy; however, my recovery was quite a journey. The shock to my system caused my bloated and swollen body to need weeks of recovery time. Luckily, I had trusted my friend and followed her instructions: I had stolen some mesh underwear from the hospital to bring home with me.
Unfortunately, I needed those disposable underwear for much longer than I anticipated and quickly ran out. As I still wasn't quite mobile, my mother went to the store to find more underwear for me. Unfortunately, she couldn't find them anywhere and ended up buying me oversized granny panties. Sure, they were big enough, but I had to cut the waistband for comfort.
I eventually recovered from my C-section, survived those first few sleepless months, and returned to work. At the time, I was working for a Fortune 100 company and happily contributing to the corporate world. But becoming a new mom brought with it an internal struggle and search for something “more" out of my life--a desire to have a bigger impact. A flashback to my friend's golden piece of advice got me thinking: Why aren't mesh underwear readily available for women in recovery? What if I could make the magical mesh underwear available to new moms everywhere? Did I know much about designing, selling, or marketing clothing? Not really. But I also didn't know much about motherhood when I started that journey, either, and that seemed to be working out well. And so, Brief Transitions was born.
My quest began. With my manufacturing and engineering background I naively thought, It's one product. How hard could it be? While it may not have been “hard," it definitely took a lot of work. I slowly started to do some research on the possibilities. What would it take to start a company and bring these underwear to market? How are they made and what type of manufacturer do I need? With each step forward I learned a little more--I spoke with suppliers, researched materials, and experimented with packaging. I started to really believe that I was meant to bring these underwear to other moms in need.
Then I realized that I needed to learn more about the online business and ecommerce world as well. Google was my new best friend. On my one hour commute (each way), I listened to a lot of podcasts to learn about topics I wasn't familiar with--how to setup a website, social media platforms, email marketing, etc. I worked in the evenings and inbetween business trips to plan what I called Execution Phase. In 2016, I had a website with a Shopify cart up and running. I also delivered my second daughter via C-section (and handily also supplied myself with all the mesh underwear I needed).
They say, “If you build it, they will come." But I've learned that the saying should really go more like this: “If you build it, and tell everyone about it, they might come." I had a 3-month-old, an almost 3 year old and my business was up and running. I had an occasional sale; however, my processes were extremely manual and having a day job while trying to ship product out proved to be challenging. I was manually processing and filling orders and then going to the post office on Saturday mornings to ship to customers. I eventually decided to go where the moms shop...hello, Amazon Prime! I started to research what I needed to do to list products with Amazon and the benefits of Amazon fulfillment (hint: they take care of it for you).
Fast forward to 2018...
While I started to build this side business and saw a potential for it to grow way beyond my expectations, my corporate job became more demanding with respect to travel and time away from home. I was on the road 70% of the time during first quarter 2018. My normally “go with the flow" 4-year-old started to cry every time I left for a trip and asked why I wasn't home for bedtime. That was a low point for me and even though bedtime with young kids has its own challenges, I realized I didn't want to miss out on this time in their lives. My desire for more scheduling flexibility and less corporate travel time pushed me to work the nights and weekends needed to build and scale my side hustle to a full-time business. If anyone tries to tell you it's “easy" to build “passive" income, don't believe them. Starting and building a business takes a lot of grit, hustle and hard work. After months of agonizing, changing my mind, and wondering if I should really leave my job (and a steady paycheck!), I ultimately left my corporate job in April 2018 to pursue Brief Transitions full-time.
In building Brief Transitions, I reached out to like-minded women to see if they were experiencing similar challenges to my own--balancing creating and building a business while raising children--and I realized that many women are on the quest for flexible, meaningful work. I realized that we can advance the movement of female entrepreneurs by leveraging community to inspire, empower, and connect these trailblazers. For that reason, I recently launched a new project, The Transitions Collective, a platform for connecting community-driven women entrepreneurs.
As is the case with many entrepreneurs, I find myself working on multiple projects at a time. I am now working on a members-only community for The Transitions Collective that will provide access to experts and resources for women who want to leave corporate and work in their business full-time. Connecting and supporting women in this movement makes us a force in the future of work. At the same time, I had my most profitable sales quarter to date and best of all, I am able to drop my daughter off at school in the morning.
Mesh underwear started me on a journey much bigger than I ever imagined. They sparked an idea, ignited a passion, and drove me to find fulfillment in a different type of work. That stolen underwear was just the beginning.