Starting a business is easy.
Selling your products and services, not so much. I started my last business (The Divorcierge) before I even knew what I did or wanted to do. I trained in life & divorce coaching and hung my shingle. I loved building my community and networking with new people. I loved the idea of contributing and helping people who were in a really difficult place navigate through their experience and come out thriving.
I blogged and posted videos and grew my network over five years. Then things started slowing down. I wasn’t sure why. I kept throwing more ideas out, building courses, webinars, speaking at conferences, and yet, business wasn’t coming so easily. I had the idea that if I kept trying new things, following what other successful coaches in my field were doing, and getting more active on social media, my business would miraculously appear.
It took about a year (and imposed quarantine) until I finally sat still long enough to figure out why. I stepped away from my business. I stopped blogging and posting. I started listening to inspiring books while I took my daily walks, and I hired a coach. I was actually enjoying my days. I felt freer, but I also felt enormous guilt about ignoring my baby–my business. What was really going on?
The more I thought about going back to work as a divorce coach, the less I wanted to do it. I started to really dig deep into what I did like about my work. I loved creating the business. I loved discovering all the tools and technologies that are available. I’d spend hours updating my website. I loved doing research on trends in the industry, seeing what competitors were up to, and finding the perfect resources for my clients. What became abundantly clear was that I no longer enjoyed the divorce work.
Saying that out loud was liberating–it actually invoked a few tears. The burden of running a business I didn’t feel passionate about, a business that drained me instead of giving me energy, was finally lifting. I actually think that I went through a cycle of grief:
Denial that my business was the problem
Anger that things weren’t going the way I’d wanted them to
Bargaining–finding ways to make it work by trying new products and hiring others to figure out what was wrong
Depression at the realization that this wasn’t going to work for me
Acceptance that the best solution was to move on
I was terrified of what would happen next. I knew I wanted to create another business, yet I had no idea what that business could be.
As I went through my own coaching process, my coach said, “You’ll know it when you can’t wait to get out of bed every morning to do that thing.” I assumed she was talking about all those other people who instinctively knew what their ‘passion’ was. Here I was at 56 years old and yet to find that one thing that would drive me. I started to question my ability to create a business of note at this ‘stage’ of my life. Was I really going to grow and scale a business that I started at this age? How many good years did I really have left?
And then it happened
I let go of The Divorcierge, really let go of it. That was when I had the clarity to look back. I knew that I couldn’t have been in business for five years if I didn’t like at least some of what I was doing. I realized that I had spent hours researching products and reading about how other entrepreneurs succeeded. I loved strategizing and organizing and prioritizing. I loved helping my friends and colleagues who felt passionate about their work figuring out where they should take their business and how they could do it.
The more I thought about helping others create businesses they love to work in, the more excited I became. Then one day, I woke up inspired and couldn’t wait to get to my office and start figuring out how I would actually manifest this. I had that lightbulb moment where I completely understood what my coach was referring to. I understood what it felt like to spend time doing what I loved and that it didn’t feel like work. I knew that all that research and strategizing and helping others was going to be what I did every day.
Last summer I launched Suite Solutions by Karen. I spend every day helping Solopreneurs (including this one!) go from “overwhelmed” to “overjoyed.” Taking all that I learned and knew about being a solopreneur and applying it has been the endeavor I’ve been waiting for.
There are a lot of consulting services in the marketplace. Most of them are targeted at businesses making seven figures and more. My mission is to give small business-owners the same quality of services in a way that they can afford, and that positions them to become a seven-figure business.
Rather than bemoan my fate, I treasure the years and experience that led me here. I know that whatever I’ve experienced has given me the wisdom and freedom to follow my heart. Had I never opened and then had the courage to close my first business, I never would have had the confidence to start my new one. The knowledge I have and the relationships I built have been the foundation of new business. I can’t wait to see what the future will bring!
“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind it, it doesn’t matter.” – Mark Twain
Karen Bigman is the founder of Suite Solutions by Karen. After several years running a Divorce Consulting business (The Divorcierge), Karen acts as the business manager and ‘right-hand woman’ for several female-owned businesses. Her articles have been featured in the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Medium, YourTango.com, NextTribe.com and BetterAfter50.