I’ll start off this post by saying, I don’t know what your challenges are, I don’t know what you personally face or are walking through right now.
But because hindsight is 20/20, I do know one thing that I’d really like to share with you.
My biggest challenge in business turned out to be my biggest blessing in the long-run.
But at the time it didn’t feel remotely like a blessing or a benefit or in any way positive.
I was annoyed and sour and a little bit resentful of my challenge. I was jealous that others had it easier and I was frustrated with my slow speed of progress because of my challenge.
What was it?
Let’s rewind a couple years to when I started my business. If you’re unfamiliar with my story, here it is in a nutshell.
As all good stories start . . . I met a v charming German guy in a bar in Mississippi. We dated long-distance for a year and a half, I graduated from college, and then booked a 1 way flight to Germany to be with him.
I realized that without speaking German and living in Germany, I could pretty much kiss my dreams of using my degrees and working in the field I studied goodbye.
So I decided to start my own business instead.
I created a Squarespace web design studio and made it my mission to find clients.
And do you know how you often get clients when starting a business? You know what all the blog posts and interviews with other successful designers said in order to get clients?
You meet people, you network, you chat up a storm with a local business that might need your services.
First clients often come by chatting up your contacts and acquaintances to see if they know anyone who needs what you offer.
And you know what? I didn’t have any of those options.
I couldn’t walk down the street to introduce myself to the businesses around the corner, because I didn’t speak the language.
I couldn’t charm people at networking events, because I didn’t speak the language.
I didn’t have any local contacts or acquaintances around, I just moved halfway across the world, I knew almost no one where I lived.
The obvious, easy game plan of finding your first clients wasn’t an option for me.
And I was resentful.
Resentful of where I lived, resentful of my situation, resentful of not being able to speak to people, resentful of being disadvantaged in business because of the decision I had made to move to Germany.
I was resentful of my German boyfriend at the time, and of the German language.
And while throwing a pity party for a month sounded really appealing, I straight up didn’t have the time for it.
I had a few thousand dollars to my name, and a guarantee of having to break up with my boyfriend, and go straight back home if I couldn’t find a way to make money while living abroad.
So I got to work. I decided to market myself online, where I could attract clients from English-speaking countries.
I decided to create content online, I decided to network online. I decided to write a blog consistently and build an email list.
Now here’s the thing. Online marketing works like gangbusters (more on that in a moment), but it’s not that way from the get-go.
Online marketing can be a very slow build. You put hours and hours and days and months into online content creation before you see a return.
I blogged 2 days a week for 6 months before I had a client come through from it.
And you bet that by month 4, when I was sitting down for another few hours of unpaid blogging work I was seriously wondering if anything good was going to come from it.
But thankfully, after 6 months, that’s when things turned around.
Someone read a blog post of mine about Squarespace website design, decided they didn’t feel like building their site themselves after-all and inquired through my website to possibly work with me.
She said yes, and I booked my very first web design client!
And then it just kept happening. People inquired through my website and booked consultation calls with me every week. Not every inquiry led to a booking, but enough did that just a few months later, I was fully booked out and having trouble finding space in my calendar to fit clients in.
Anytime I did have a web design space free, I sent 1 email to my email list of blog readers and the spot basically filled itself.
And this is when I started to realize just how blessed I had been.
Other web designers were still scrambling to meet someone and book their design spot for next moth, but I wasn’t. Other designers were still using in-person-networking as their marketing strategy, a strategy that honestly doesn’t scale all too well.
My marketing strategy had the opportunity to connect with anyone on the internet who needed the info I had. In-person-networking isn’t quite able to reach as many people as a blog post can.
My business challenge definitely made it harder for me to get started, it made me slower to get going and build up my business, but it also couldn’t have been a bigger blessing.
Once the blog and email list started building, I never had to worry about booking another client again.
So just know that if you’re in the middle of a challenge right now, if you have a disadvantage you’re working with as you build your business, you’re not alone.
My advice to my past self would be to not spend any time being resentful or throwing a pity party. My advice would be to get to work, to acknowledge my challenge and then work around it.
And I hope for you that you’re also able to turn whatever challenge you have into a blessing too!