Having a sustainable livelihood — on your own terms — doing work that fulfills you, is one of the best experiences in life.
In other words: having a successful authentic business. With dedication and persistence, it is entirely doable.
In this blog post, I’ll outline what I see are the 5 requirements to success, along with 6 additional helpful factors.
Basic Financial Stability
You might be wondering, “Isn’t financial stability one of the reasons for having an authentic business?”
Yes, a successful authentic business can fulfill all your financial needs.
However, I don’t recommend that you start an authentic business while you’re in a perilous state.
The faster you require survival money from your business, the less authentic you’ll be. In desperation, you’ll make choices for the bottom line that compromise your values and integrity.
Therefore, the first thing to do, before building your authentic business, is to create a financially stable situation for yourself… at least to meet your basic needs.
If you’re already part way there, you might need to simply focus on getting a few more clients asap. The tricky part is to do it with integrity and confidence, instead of selling from desperation energy.
If however you’re far from being able to pay your bills, the path I recommend now is to secure a stable job, hopefully a part-time one that isn’t all consuming, that still allows time and energy on the evenings or weekends to build your authentic business. Freelancing online, or driving an Uber/Lyft, are viable options for many people.
Or, you may be fortunate enough to have a partner or family member who is happy to financially support you while you build your business.
Or, you may have savings that you are willing to use, and be able to stretch out for years, by living simply. Be very careful, however, about tapping into your retirement savings. You’ll get tempted by business/marketing programs or consultants that promise you a secure business, but first you have to pay them thousands of dollars to learn the “secrets” or join some kind of program that’s supposed to guarantee your success. Don’t buy into large business training programs.
In any case, have your basic needs be met, so that you aren’t building a business to survive, but instead, to help you thrive.
In other words, don’t force a certain timeframe for your business. Otherwise you’ll be susceptible to hype and manipulation by marketing experts who claim to be able to help you earn X dollars by X time.
The reality I’ve seen, after building an authentic business for 10 years and having coached hundreds of entrepreneurs, is that the timeframe can be wildly different for different people. Some lucky people may take only months to have their authentic business be financially viable. For many, however, it takes years to grow an ideal audience and hone one’s offerings enough to create financial success.
All we can do is diligently and joyfully work — without a timeframe requirement — and keep using authentic methods to grow. The less you force it, the more authentic and happy you can be.
Self-Care / Spiritual Practices
An authentic business is grounded in soulful self-expression and a joyful spirit of caring for our ideal clients.
To sustain this kind of attitude requires consistent practices of self-care and/or spiritual development.
For me, this means having a stable schedule of work that includes plenty of breaks throughout my day, and a clear ending time for work each day, so that I can rest fully in the evenings.
A stable schedule means being careful to keep boundaries, not letting any client (or fan) take too much of my time and energy. I don’t mind disappointing people, if it’s their reactions rather than my fault. As long as I keep being honest about what I can give, then anyone’s requests above my capacity are kindly declined.
Lastly, it also means doing my energy reboot practice throughout my day, so that I stay connected to the heart of love and joyful diligence. When I keep reminding myself of eternal security, which I believe is the truth of all our souls, then I can work with integrity.
A Plan or Strategy You Believe In
Building a successful business requires an overall plan and strategy that has been shown to work for others like you.
You can always adjust and customize to your needs, but start finding a proven plan that you are excited to follow.
To know if an authentic business plan is good, see whether it will (1) help you to create and grow an Audience you care about, and (2) help you develop, through experimentation, the offerings (products/services/programs) that you would love to deliver.
- Blog Post: my 10-year plan
- Blog post: 4 questions to guide your simple business planning
- Online course: Intro to Authentic Business which gives detailed explanations of how I spend my time building my business and my recommended tools.
Enough Focused Time for Following Your Plan
Too many people dream of having a business, but don’t spend the time to build it! They may read books, blog posts, or take online courses. Consuming content, learning, and joining coaching programs can feel good, but those “actions” don’t make real progress.
You need to do the often uncomfortable actions of working your Plan to build your business.
Schedule enough time and let your family/friends know that you are not to be bothered in those precious hours when you work on your business.
I recommend that you carve out at least 10 hours per week to build your authentic business. Anything less is questionable whether you will be giving enough focused attention to gain traction.
What to do in your 10+ hours on your business per week? Follow the plan you have customized for yourself (see section above.)
To prevent procrastination, a tool I use everyday is Focusmate. It has been life changing for me and for my clients. I highly recommend it.
Patience for Results and Learnings
Just like it takes time for a seed to grow into a tree, it will also take time for your business to see results, as well as many so-called “failures” that you can learn from.
I don’t know if it will take you 6 months or 6 years, but please don’t give up. If you are determined to have an authentic business, you simply need to keep putting in the focused time to work your plan.
All along the way, may you do the work joyfully, thanks to your self-care/spiritual practices.
If you work in joyful productivity, you don’t really need patience, since you are experiencing fulfillment every step of the way, no matter what activity you are doing in building your business.
With continued work, useful learning, and experimentations — not giving up — you will inevitably build a successful authentic business. Don’t put a required timeframe on it. Let the wins surprise you along the way.
Helpful Assets to Develop
The above 5 are what I consider to be requirements for any authentic business: basic financial stability, self-care practices, a reasonable plan, focused time, and patience.
I’ll list some additional helpful assets or skill sets. The more you have of the following, the sooner you’ll succeed. But even if you don’t have these, you can develop them:
- Good work habits — joyful productivity and consistency of focused action. For more, read my articles on Joyful Productivity.
- Connections in your chosen field — for example, friends who have audiences that you could speak with, or nichemates who can share their hard-earned experience. See my articles about authentic networking.
- Tech savvy — you can learn any tech skills from online videos, courses, and most importantly by practicing and not giving up. It will become second nature to you at some point. Until then, you may want to outsource some tech tasks. Fiverr and Upwork are two directories you may want to use to find freelancers. Or contact me for specific recommendations.
- Knowledge and Content — some of you reading this might already have lots of knowledge to help you begin building your audience through content. Others, like me, had to develop it from scratch. Either way, the fastest way to grow knowledge is by creating and sharing content.
- Testimonials and Endorsements — as you serve clients (and as you develop greater skill in doing so) you’ll receive wonderful comments and recommendations. Keep these organized so that you can use them to encourage yourself when times get tough, and to make your marketing easier. In the beginning, you can get testimonials by offering your service for free to friends and colleagues.
- Money for Paid Ads — the fastest way to grow an audience in the beginning is to use paid advertising, my favorite of which is FB. I teach a comprehensive online course on Facebook Marketing/Ads if you’re interested. Even just $30/month is a great way to start.
I recommend that you carefully read this article again from the beginning, and see which skills and assets you need to shore up in order to give yourself the best foundation for growing your authentic business.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me, as I may have a blog post, video, or course that would be recommended for your next steps.