I always thought that I could run a business on my own and over the last couple of months I have come to realize how foolish my ambition to do it all on my own is.
Fighting for your independence. Searching for your creativity. Wanting to be the best. Seeking and finding your own path. Kind of sounds like an incarnation of the American dream, doesn’t it? It’s what we are taught as children and it’s what gets ingrained in us by work culture, social media culture and society as a whole nowadays.
In my first job, at the ripe age of 20 years old, while selling insurance and investment products to adults and being around some very successful people, I decided that who Michael Forman is was not enough. I was failing in the role, I wanted nothing more to be successful as an adult and I saw that the successful people in my company were loud, proud, confident, strong, goal-oriented, courageous and unstoppable. They worked hard, they never got thrown off track and they did whatever it took to reach their goals and provide for their families. I on the other hand was stoppable, my emotions got the best of me, fear got the best of me, I was mostly quiet because I didn’t know if I had anything worthwhile to contribute, I didn’t set goals and I surely was not proud of myself nor my accomplishments in life.
So I decided to be like the people that were around me that were so successful. I became loud, proud, confident, strong, goal-oriented, courageous and unstoppable. Anything or anyone that got in my way would be pushed out of my way. Fear was stupid and I would no longer let fear stop me from reaching my goals. I became boisterous, proud and even arrogant. I wanted to make it known that I had what it took and that I could be even better than you, do better than you and have more than you.
In this process I became an “I’m going to do it all on my own person” because nothing was going to stop nor hold me back from my goals and that also meant that no one was going to stop me or hold me back form my goals. When people didn’t want to do something that I wanted to do, I would do it only own. If you didn’t want to help me, I pushed you out of my life. If you had nothing to offer to get me towards my goals then you were out. I also took it upon myself to impose my ideas and principles on others because mine were clearly what worked and what was right and yours were clearly wrong because they did not agree with mine.
To say it bluntly, I was a monster. I had no compassion for anyone, no empathy for anyone and took no excuses nor bs from anyone. I got what I wanted – to do it all on my own – and I developed a mindset that if I can’t do it then no one can. I was not open to anyone’s help, advice, suggestions, recommendations nor support and I loved it. Truly.
I went about creating this business all on my own – I hired a business coach because I knew that a lot of fears would come up and he absolutely helped me work through them and get me on track and we spoke once a week for 1 hour at a time. Every other action that I took, I took on my own. I thought that I could build this business son my own and I was dead set to prove that I could because in my mind, anyone who could not do it alone was weak and somebody that was not worth listening to.
So I gave it my all, I generated clients, made some money, had dozens of consultations and generated a lot of opportunities for me to communicate the mission of Pure Love Sustainability Inc. and gain support for the business. It was pretty good, until it wasn’t.
On June 4th, I realized that I couldn’t continue running this business as I wasn’t making enough money and the work that I was doing to help clients create the gardens of their dreams and grow their own food had taken a toll on my body. I had no other choice, but to stop operating Pure Love Sustainability Inc as it was and to create a new business model. I was devastated as I couldn’t do it all on my own.
Over the course of the next week, I was completely defeated and felt like the biggest loser in the world. I didn’t know what to do with my life as reversing and eliminating climate change is my life’s work and mission and I realized that I can’t do it. I was distraught and wanted to write my bi-weekly newsletter, but I couldn’t get more than two sentences out. I knew that I had to share my struggles with my community and I knew that I needed support.
So I wrote my newsletter to let everyone know that I was struggling, that I was not making enough money to sustain this business, that the physical work of creating gardens had beaten my body up and that I would have to go and get a job and would be slowly recreating the mission and vision of Pure Love Sustainability Inc. I sent this message to my entire contact list and posted it on Facebook. I expected my current client to be mad at me and to demand their money back, I expected people to rail on me for quitting and I expected people to think I was a loser.
The total opposite happened – clients reached out to me saying they were so sorry that this happened and that I was struggling with my business. All of my current clients wanted me to continue working with them, one of my clients even offered to pay out of her own pocket to hire someone to do the physical labor of the job. People reached out to me that I hadn’t spoken with in years and close friends called me to make sure that I was ok. I was shocked and amazed by people’s generosity.
A few days after sending this message, I was on the phone with a friend in NY that I do some paid consulting work for and she was sharing the struggles that she is having in her business and at the end of the conversation I realized that she is trying to do it all on her own, just like me. This hit me hard and I said to myself, “Wow, I finally see that I cannot do this alone”. I knew that if I was going to keep Pure Love Sustainability Inc. alive (which I want to do) that I needed to be open to people contributing to me, contributing to the business and to people coming in and supporting me.
For the first-time in a long time, I was open to allowing others to contribute and allowing others to create with me. I had a meeting last week and am exploring the possibility of building a non-profit arm of Pure Love Sustainability Inc. that is focused on sustainability work for business, apartment complexes, property management companies and local governments and doing it in partnership with another human being! This is an idea that I have had for a while that I had no time to take action on AND I am now in action because I stopped trying to do it all on my own!
I recently attended an amazing social media marketing workshop that Road Warrior Creative lead in partnership with the Idaho Small Business Development Center and was incredibly inspired during the event to hire a brand strategist who can help me organize all of the content that I have created and the content that I want to create into a cohesive brand engagement and brand awareness strategy that can be tied into my sales and marketing strategy. I am so pumped for the future of Pure Love Sustainability Inc.
Ironically, less than 2 weeks ago, I completely considered quitting the business and I am seeing that I reached the limit of what I can do on my own. I am also seeing that creating partnerships with people and allowing others to contribute is the key to succeeding as a business and also in life. If you are struggling, I recommend that you ask for help. If you are ready to quit, reach out to someone and be open to their contributions. If you are doing it all on your own, stop. In the process of being in a relationship withy now wife, I learned that life is so much better when you are doing it with someone else and now I am also learning that running a business is so much better when you are doing it with someone else.