Last night, I chased my kids out of the car and into their school at 6:15 p.m. on the dot to attend their end-of-year talent show. This talent show hadn’t been on our family calendar because, like the mom of the year I am, I didn’t do a lot to encourage my child to sign up for anything.
Sure, we talked about it a few times, but the conversations went something like this:
I wasn’t going to press the issue further. If the kid didn’t want to do it, he didn’t want to do it, right?
Except I wasn’t right. All day yesterday, I only heard about the talent show. That desire to attend worked well in my favor because I wasn’t emotionally invested in it, but my kids were. Anytime they’d act out, I’d pull out the consequence from my back pocket and let them know that we didn’t *have* to go to the talent show that night.
They didn’t act out.
There’s a nice business lesson in that statement. Let’s break it down before I share my favorite act of the night with you.
You listen. If you’re emotionally invested in seeing your business succeed, you don’t have to play by the rules and go through the motions all the gurus tell you to go through. However, you do need to listen and listen well. Listen to your customers. Listen to what they’re telling you through their behavior. Listen to lessons others have learned about what to do and what not to do in business. Listen for the lessons; not the stale advice that hasn’t been updated in several years.
You behave. I’m not one to advocate for being perfectly behaved in most situations (don’t tell my kids), but I advocate for behaving in an interesting way. Behavior is what you do. It’s how you move through this world. Behavior in business can’t be boring. To capture attention these days, there’s value in behaving differently than most. That’s why RVers get so much attention. We live on the road instead of in a giant metal tube flying hundreds of miles an hour over the sky without ever seeing what’s underneath it (ugh, right?). Our behavior, our slow roll from one destination to another while taking in the sites along the way, is compelling.
You do what it takes. Look, I’m anti-hustle culture around here, but that doesn’t mean I’m anti-work. I love my work. It’s what gets me up out of bed at 4 a.m. every day. Having that quiet time in my office to get sh!t done before the day gets chaotic is my dopamine hit for the day. I love progress. I love the doing when it’s something I’m enthusiastic about. But when the doing involves something I’m less than enthusiastic about, I know that something has to change because I’m no longer on the path to doing what it takes to succeed.
Back to that talent show.
The show started as I settled into the chairs alongside my equally enthusiastic friends. It turns out, it was pretty darn cute, and I’m glad I went. One act, between the singing, dancing, and instrument playing (which I loved), was a mad scientist act. Now I was really leaning in. Was he going to blow up the stage? Was he going to cause the school’s sprinkler system to erupt on all of us? What sort of exciting experiment were we about to be part of?
The third grader took to the stage with his tutu-clad gymnast assistant to help him. As the mad scientist music played, he pulled out a bucket of sand, a plastic bag with water, and some pencils. Very methodically, intentionally, and aggressively, he poked holes through that plastic bag of water without a single drop escaping. Rivoting!
And in that instant, while watching those holes get poked without the entire bag crumbling, I felt relief.
Earlier in the day, I announced my decision to close down my new membership. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, especially since I’d just spent a lot of energy designing, launching, and selling the membership outcomes. However, it was a hole I knew I had to poke through my business’s water-filled bag because I knew it was a hole that wouldn’t lead to water leaking out.
Business is one big experiment. Don’t let anyone fool you otherwise. No one has it all perfectly figured out, so we get to play a little. For us adventurers, that’s a welcome idea, isn’t it? That playfulness matters — especially when building something that will support our lifestyle instead of the other way around. The good news is we get to design the lifestyle and business that serves both ourselves and our clients.
There are a lot of acts you can do on the world stage. Some people love making a living dancing on TikTok. Others love singing their hearts out while they travel. You get to choose your act no matter what you love to do.
That choice is empowering. It means you get to design how you show up. Recently, I’ve been journaling every morning on this question — what do I really want?
It’s a question that carries a lot of weight, so I’ve kept my answers simple. Turns out, what I really want is the space to create pretty things and ideas and then to share those things with the world. I’m still working on deepening that statement, but even just cracking the surface has been eye-opening because it’s shifting where and how I show up.
For a while, I thought the membership route was the way to go. I listened to podcasts on my trips down to the apple orchards about the beauty of recurring revenue through memberships. I downloaded the blueprints and even took classes around designing a membership that was light and easy to run. The problem? The outcome of that membership didn’t quite align with what I really wanted, so I got to lean into a different act. Instead of doing what everyone else said I should do, I get to create something that’ll ultimately have the same impact, cost my audience less, and feel a whole lot better to share with the world.
As you’re navigating which act you’ll choose, ask yourself that question — what do I *really* want? And look at what your audience *really* wants. Then, get empathetic with your choices. Where’s the overlap that can have you feeling really good taking the world stage to perform? How will you use your unique gifts to capture the audience’s attention and have them feel relief too?
There’s nothing wrong with tradition. Give me all of the delicious barbecue food around the fourth of July and all of the traditional meals around Christmas time. Traditions can work as guardrails to offer a healthy amount of familiarity and fun as we go through life. However, mixing up those traditions now and then is okay.
You don’t have to make the same content in business as everyone else. If video or podcasting isn’t your thing, there are other ways to get found. If you hate social media, don’t rely on it as your one and only option to make sales. Contrary to popular belief, social is one of the least effective ways of driving sales. #TruthBomb
You don’t have to design your offers in the same way as everyone else. If group programs sound draining to you, you can teach a standalone course.
You don’t have to do anything the way other people tell you to do it. Instead, you get to be the mad scientist and test where and how you show up. You get to create an ecosystem that will give yourself the outcome you want as an entrepreneur AND the outcome your customers expect when they buy from you.
Remember how I said I started and then stopped my membership? That’s not the full story. Instead, I redesigned the molecular makeup of my business to move the membership to a different part of the customer journey. Here’s why that matters.
I noticed two things through listening to my customers and watching their (and my) behavior in both my membership and my course.
Originally, this had been my intent. The membership would be there to inspire productivity. The course would be there to teach how to leverage that productivity to actually earn money without burning out.
The problem? The promises were too similar, so I changed the structure to provide an even better outcome for my students. Now, there’s a clearer and simpler path for them to follow when we work together. One community. One place for support. One course. One membership on the tail end of the course to get that continual support and productivity.
The simplicity and ease of poking holes in the molecular makeup of my business also helped me pinpoint another thing — where the molecules didn’t adhere together, and leaks started to form.
In the plastic bag analogy, water doesn’t leak out when you stab a pencil through the bag because there’s a reaction at play that keeps the water in the bag. However, if you pulled that pencil out, water would leak, requiring you to patch the holes.
In this analogy, pretend the water in your bag is your energy. If things don’t adhere properly together in a perfect molecular reaction, you’ll start leaking energy as you poke holes in your business.
I felt that energy leak out of me faster than a slow drip. It was pouring out. I’d lost my momentum, which meant losing my ability to show up and serve truly. A hole had to be patched up for my energy levels to stay strong enough to serve the people I cared so deeply about. In closing the membership doors and pivoting my business, I was patching a leaky hole where I knew I couldn’t serve my customers how they deserved.
After I sent the email yesterday letting the members know about the future of the Roadpreneur Experience, I felt my stomach flip. I hated letting anyone down despite knowing it was the right long-term decision. Do you have perfectionist tendencies too? Gosh, that’s such a limiting belief, but it’s also a REAL feeling we have to wrestle with every day as business owners. I hated creating more confusion (albeit temporary). I worried. I was scared. I felt all those human emotions that we, as business owners, feel. So, I went and worked out, then returned to my computer to take the hits I was so convinced were coming.
And you know what? The responses were so empowering!
Only one woman dealt a bit of a blow. Rather than wallow in it and get defensive, I helped her resolve those feelings.
Every other response I received (and there were a lot) said they appreciated the permission slip to poke holes in their business too. They’d also been feeling the pressure building up and leaks starting to happen in areas that weren’t serving them or their clients as well as they wanted to serve them.
I felt relieved. Not only because one of the places that was standing in the way of me making pretty things and using those things to help others was now patched up but because I’d unintentionally helped others preserve their energy too.
I felt relieved that the thing I’d been so scared about doing out of fear of how it would make me look as an entrepreneur didn’t turn out as doomsday as I’d anticipated. It rarely does.
I felt relief that I’d given myself and others the permission slip to pivot, adjust, and make changes where needed.
Business is a massive mad scientist experiment where we get to play around with the makeup of things. But here’s the reality. Until you try, you won’t know. Listening alone won’t give you the insights behavior will. You won’t be able to feel what works or see the results that come for your clients due to your behaviors. You must do what it takes to put yourself out there, test the waters, and then pull back before those energetic leaks cause the whole business bag to cave in.
What do you *really* want? And where are there holes in your business that you can patch up to stop the leak from getting you what you really want?