According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years, 45% during the first five years and 65% during the first ten years. Only 25% of new businesses make it to fifteen years or more. So when Kristina Devlin took over an existing yoga studio that had already been running for about ten years, many people thought and told her that it was a terrible time to buy a business, especially since she had never owned a business before. To make matters worse, a few months after Kristina took over the studio, COVID-19 hit. The global pandemic resulted in dire consequences for many client-facing businesses, including hers, with revenue hit particularly hard.
Kristina thought about quitting multiple times. Her head was constantly swarming with negative internal dialogue as she battled thoughts like the ones listed below. They caused her to seriously question her choices and future with the business.
While there is plenty of advice available for new business owners such as: create a business plan, invest in marketing, grow the business, build the team and implement systems, processes and procedures, to name just a few, the one key aspect that can make the greatest impact is usually overlooked: their Being, or more specifically, who and how they are being and how that impacts their performance and results.
How to grow your business – an ontological (‘let’s get real’) approach focused on Being
As a first-time business owner facing the greatest challenge to the economy and business in post-war history, Kristina was challenged about her future as the business owner. However, determined to make it work, she committed to investing in coaching at a time when most were cutting back on their spending. Kristina found me through referral, and the first step I took with her after an initial conversation was to have her complete a Being Profile® assessment. In reviewing her results during our debrief session, Kristina uncovered some Aspects of Being that she expected she was struggling with and others that were surprising and unlocked new domains of enquiry and growth she hadn’t considered before.
Responsibility: a Primary Way of Being
Together, we worked on specific Aspects of Being related to her leadership, beginning with responsibility. In Ashkan Tashvir's latest best-selling book, Human Being, he defines responsibility as being the primary cause of matters in your life regardless of their source. He writes: “Responsibility is distinguished by how you honour the autonomy that you have as a human being and is considered the power to influence the affairs, outcomes and consequences you are faced with. Responsibility is not about blaming or determining whose fault it is. Instead, it is to intentionally choose, own, cause and bring about outcomes that matter, work and produce results while also being answerable for the impact and consequences.”
During the first few months of COVID-related lockdowns, Kristina suffered a major financial setback in her business. The only thing that kept her going and inventing new ideas for creating revenue was the ability to respond, tapping into responsibility as a Way of Being. Her commitment to being coached supported her to see the benefits of owning and influencing the situation independently of the reasons that were causing it. Responsibility equals power.
Assessing your relationship with responsibility is a good place to start if you want to grow your business. Begin your inquiry by asking yourself: “What is holding me back that I am not responsible for?” The answer to this question will start building your ability to step into your own power and become responsible for the things you may not have caused or had control over. A coach can support you in structuring this conversation more effectively and ensure you remain focused on the most important matters: your business’s success and growth.
Assertiveness: a Secondary Way of Being
Another aspect that made a significant difference for Kristina was transforming her relationship with assertiveness, a Secondary Way of Being. In Human Being, assertiveness is defined as being “when you express yourself effectively and stand up for your point of view, while also being respectful of others. It is the willingness to express your thoughts and feelings firmly and directly while being considerate of others and aware of any subsequent consequences of being assertive. Assertiveness is being resolute, straight, firm and effective.”
Kristina’s Being Profile® assessment revealed that her relationship with assertiveness was the cause of her overly passive attempts to enrol new clients into a spring yoga challenge. Kristina had tried to create a challenge before, but it never seemed to happen.
Assertiveness is closely connected to other Aspects of Being, such as confidence, proactivity and effectiveness. Kristina was surprised to discover that she needed to work on assertiveness to improve her relationship with those other Aspects of Being. Learning more about herself made her aware that she has often prioritised supporting others before looking after her own interests, which impacted her effectiveness and confidence. She also realised she found it challenging to ask for what she needed to be effective in her business. It was an eye-opening insight for her. In short, a shaky relationship with assertiveness was causing Kristina to be too nice to get what she wanted.
Kristina shifted her ability to make assertive requests and be more effective with her clients. She subsequently launched and successfully ran her first ‘30 Day Spring Challenge’ with twenty willing participants. Her confidence shone through, leading to an increasing number of clients committing to every subsequent challenge she introduced. Confidence breeds confidence. In the end, Kristina lifted her ability to positively influence members of her community to become paying customers of her business and developed the leadership capacity of certain members of her team. What stopped her before was the notion that she would not be able to follow through and ask people to honour their commitments by paying. The moment that became visible to her, she was able to address it and transform. Once that happened, her business took off. By taking on the ‘unreasonable request’ challenge, Kristina discovered that people were open to contribute and be contributed to.
According to Kristina, three key factors kept her going during those challenging first two years in business. One was staying connected to her community, choosing responsibly not to let anything get in her way, including lockdowns. Another was having mentors to guide her. And last but not least, having a coach that supported her to focus on the possibilities and opportunities within her business rather than on quitting and letting go, which is the default for many people facing turbulent times and seemingly insurmountable challenges.
Kristina accomplished massive gains for the business within less than two weeks. By stepping into her power (responsibility) and transforming her relationship with assertiveness and related Aspects of Being, Kristina increased her business revenue by 30% and her profits by about 20% while many other businesses struggled during the pandemic. And for her personally, she was able to have a breakthrough in her ability to communicate with people and discover that students were more than happy to contribute and be contributed to. All she had to do was ask.
Choosing to become a business owner is hard enough, let alone staying in business, which statistics tell us is no mean feat. The most effective way to ensure sustainable success in business and to grow and thrive rather than become a statistic is to focus on who and how you are being. Transforming your relationship with Ways of Being like responsibility and assertiveness (two of thirty-one Aspects of Being in the Being FrameworkTM connected to leadership, effectiveness and fulfilment) will support you to overcome challenges and drive results. When you do that, more effective outcomes are created, leading to ever-expanding horizons and possibilities. If you would like to discover what is possible in your business, I invite you to contact me here.