Small Biz Confession: Pushing Me Outside My Comfort Zone
“Hey – Emily – your face is twitching. I can see you are nervous, but we’re just talking.” You never got to hear that conversation on the January 21, 2016 Business Rockstars show, but it happened during the commercial break. The host told me to (basically) calm down. It wasn’t what my words were saying that told him I was nervous, it was the fact that my face was noticeably twitching and he could see it. I was mortified, but after he said that I felt more comfortable, and finished my interview.
I must have watched the recording of that interview 20+ times in my hotel room that night. Not because I am narcissistic, but because I wanted to memorize what I said so I could re-say the good things, or never again say the bad things. And of course, I wanted to see if the camera could see my face twitching. Lucky for me, you couldn’t.
I started East of Ellie in 2009 and trust me when I say getting pushed outside of my comfort zone is at least a weekly occurrence (if not daily) and has been for almost 7 years. At a certain point you become somewhat numb to it, but that ping of anxiety in the pit of my stomach comes back from time to time.
Here are a few confessions of the things that make me nervous as a small business owner.
1. Why should we pick YOU?
The dreaded “why me” pitch. Why should we pick YOU over someone else? Well, I have a few things that come into my head here, but then I hear Momma Chalk in my ear with this little song she sang to me when I was a kid. It goes, “I love myself, I think I am grand. I talk to myself and I hold my own hand.” So quickly I try to be as humble as possible and just give real references to things i’ve done in my professional career. Still for me, the hardest question to answer – hands down.
2. Can we pay you later?
I am very thankful for my clients, but there are months where either the money goes out, or it comes in. We take the good with the bad, but it’s hard to manage an ever changing dynamic of income and expenses. And it makes it especially hard to plan for the future.
3. Can you join us on our next podcast/panel/radio show?
I am my grandfather’s granddaughter. I could talk to a wall about East of Ellie, but ask me to get up in front of a group and tell you all about the agency? Please no. So I just put on my old cheerleading poker face and go for it. I am glad every time I do it, but the week or so leading up to the task, I can feel my heart beating a little faster.
4. How’s business? Are you busy?
There is honestly never a time we are not busy. If we aren’t knee deep in a gaggle of events, we are drafting RFP’s, working on editing videos from our past events and identifying who to share them with. If it’s not that, we are having coffee with industry partners and potential clients. We’re always thinking of new marketing ideas and how we are going to leverage that across all our social media channels. If a client asks me if I am busy – my mind will immediately go one of two ways. Option 1) You are so busy you aren’t going to devote the time and energy to my event. Option 2) You aren’t busy and you are not the successful agency I thought you were.
Do my clients actually think either? Probably not. But I find myself taking a deep breath every time I am asked that question and giving them a nervous answer.
5. I am not happy.
This phrase shoots fear into every nerve in my body. A client not being happy is total doomsday to me. Luckily, and I say this with fingers tightly crossed, it doesn’t happen often. But when it does, I have a gut wrenching feeling in my stomach for a minimum of 24 hours. My last birthday I actually had an issue with a client, and it in all honesty ruined my entire day. Did I lose that client? No. Was it a huge deal? Not really. But to me it felt like the end of the world. As a business owner I can only imagine it comparing to my child being unhappy. I just have a dog and a cat, but that’s what I imagine it would feel like.
You would think as a professional event planner (which is ACTUALLY the 5th most stressful job in the country) that being in my chosen profession would keep me up at night. Not really. These things do however.
What keeps your mind racing? Do you share any of these with me? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.