Stop this business empire, I want to get off

By: Stella Orange

I never wanted to build an empire.

I just wanted to be the captain of my own ship. 

I just wanted to do work that was meaningful to me. 

I just wanted to cover my rent and utilities.

I (Stella) have been in business ten years.

Rewind to the part where my old business is grossing $300K a year. 

I’ve got 6 people on my team. I fly all over to speak, host, and attend events. I spend $40K in one year on sponsorships. $14K on Facebook ads. $25K a year on an email marketing tool and the team member to run it. 

I’m paying myself well and saving for retirement. 

But I’m also paying A LOT of other people, too. So I need to make a lot of money, in part so I can keep paying all those people. 

That’s when I start to realize where I am. 

I’ve got a global membership program that adds $100K to my gross revenue for two years in a row. 

It’s given me more freedom and income than I’d ever imagined. 

But there’s a catch. 

Although my list is super-responsive and buys, I’ve launched this particular program three times. If I don’t add new people to my list, my launches will stop working. 

This is because when you have a business like I used to, there is one rule: Always Be Expanding.

So all around me, my friends are launching, launching, launching. 

They’re learning Facebook ads, sales funnels, how to write hooky story-based Instagram posts.  

They’re expanding! They’re getting big numbers on the boards! They’re getting in front of new audiences! 

And here’s me: I never wanted to build an empire.

And here’s me: I have zero desire to do any of this stuff.

And here’s me: Oh geez, I know what this means… 

That’s when I knew I was in the wrong business. 

Not ‘wrong’ as in ‘bad.’ 

‘Wrong’ as in ‘this isn’t a business I have a desire to build any further.’

Put another way, I found myself halfway up the mountain before I decided it wasn’t mine to climb. #notmymountain

The good news: If we don’t like the mountain we’ve picked, we can always choose another.  

In business, this is called pivoting. 

I have made a few pivots in the last decade. As have Sarah and Rebecca. 

So I pivoted, and made the decision to stop, turn around right where I was, and walk down that particular mountain trail. 

How do we know, out of all the mountains out there, which one is ours to climb?

We know.

My knowing comes like an animal, when I’m still and quiet and at home in my skin. 

It comes when I stop frontin’, and soften into the truth of what I love and am here to tend (and fight for).

It comes when I notice ‘hey, I have zero desire to do this’ and then let myself follow where my curiosity and desire take me.  

Now, your knowing may come differently than mine.

But I’m willing to bet it’s right there, with you. 

May you build your business from that place. 

Stella is cofounder and copywriter at Las Peregrinas, a creative and consulting agency. As our resident word nerd, she writes copy and points out the stories everyone is living and telling through their work. She is also fun at parties.

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