Meaningful Business

What To Do When Your First Business Sucks

With Lydia Lee

I started my first business with what I knew.

In 2013, I started my self-employment journey as a consultant in an industry I was already familiar with, the international education sector.

It was a no brainer really. I had built a career in that field, a black book full of contacts, and landed my first few clients (one of them even being my ex-employer) through relationships I’ve built.

In the first six months of that consulting business, I was on my way to replacing my corporate income.

Then, things started feeling like a ‘job’ again. I had this nagging realization that although I was grateful for self-employment income, I no longer felt passionate or motivated to ‘sell’ traditional education, and personally, I wasn’t feeling at all creative in the role I played.

So, I started this little blog called Screw The Cubicle, to document my identity crisis I felt leaving corporate, figuring out my values, and the twists and turns of transitioning to self-employment.

To be honest, it was a place I felt I could point my friends and family to go to when they asked, “Why did you leave a six-figure job again?”

Starting that blog with no expectations other than to share my experience and nuggets along the way allowed me to write freely, say things transparently, and share topics that were important to me. Things that I wish I could’ve read before I quit the cubicle.

And then this wonderful thing happened.

Strangers started sending me messages about how they resonated with my journey. A lawyer from Toronto emailed me to ask, “Do you coach people to go through career transitions?”

I had to Google what a coach did. Seriously. And then I asked myself, “Do I want to explore this coaching thing?”

The answer was that I didn’t know. What type of coach would I be? Do I want to listen to people’s problems all day? What would I help with? Am I even qualified?

All very logical questions, right? And very easily, I could’ve said, “Nah, I’ll just stick to what I know”.

But this is what I decided to do instead.

I remembered why ‘internships’ were an important part of my journey to test the waters and build my skills when I first stepped foot in the corporate world. We didn’t think twice about that. We knew we had to get our feet wet and gain experience to move up the corporate ladder.

So, why would I bypass this as an opportunity to explore my next chapter of work?

I called it the “Mini Internship To See If I Liked This Coaching Thing”.

For the next 3 months, I gave myself permission to help generously and dig into testing how I can support and offer value.

I posted a call for ‘beta coachees’ to my personal FB page and groups I belonged to. Old colleagues, high school friends, siblings of friends, and even someone I dated once agreed to go through a mentorship experience for 8 weeks with me.

The opportunity to work with real humans, help with real problems, and experience what I like and didn’t like allowed me to get clearer on whether this path was for me.

I learned what the common problems were, where people needed most support, and where I could offer the most effective value.

I also learned what I will never do again. What types of clients were not for me. What I wanted to help with and what I didn’t want to help with.

This experience was instrumental in helping me decide what to offer, who to serve, and how to position my work.

 Six months after that ‘mini internship’ experience, I closed down my first consulting business, made Screw The Cubicle my full-time gig, and moved to Bali to go fully location-independent with my business.

You will have confidence, experience, and credibility to start a business when you test your ideas first.

In the last seven years of continuing to mentor hundreds of people to transition from their corporate careers to start their own business, I’m still teaching this valuable process of going through a validation and testing experience with my coaching clients.

It has provided immense clarity, experience, and credibility to the work they want to do. And the bonus? Getting early testimonials and the confidence to sell something they’ve refined and improved is HUGE in feeling motivated to launch that business.

The beta test experience is just ONE of the six stages I teach to launch a meaningful business in my signature 90 Day Launch program.

From finding your ‘sweet spot’ for your niche, building a confident business plan, designing a valuable offer, creating a beta test, developing a marketing plan in line with your strengths, and arming you with a 90-day launch strategy, these foundations will build your business step-by-step and ensure you’re designing a business that feels like YOU.

If mentorship matters to your journey to turning a fuzzy idea into a real business, I’m now accepting new coaching clients to go through this coaching experience with me.

Check out the full details of the program here that includes a unique combination of a Launch Course + 1:1 Coaching with me.

And you can speak to a real human (me!) to explore why this program can be a secret weapon in starting your dream business. Grab a time slot with me for a free discovery call right here.

 I believe in you and the work you want to do!

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