Here's the thing: measuring success

Financial successI’m not a massive one for new year’s resolutions  (though I do love my word of the year habit). This year, having had quite a busy and shake-me-up year in 2016, I’m ready to come back to myself, to blogging and writing and mentoring now that copper boom has some security.

So let’s get really honest, shall we? I’m ready to spill the beans, as I love to do.

One of the things I love about Copper Boom is that it gives me so much more practical experience in running a bigger, more complex business. It is expanding my knowledge, courage and insight in really amazing ways.

Of course, especially in the first six months of business, that has not felt comfortable. Much of the time, I’ve thought I’m failing, or worried that I will.

And the biggest source of worry? Money.

Until 2016, I had a fairly good relationship with money. I’d never been in debt, save a student loan that I paid back through working and some money from my parents. (Yes, I check my privilege here.) I was earned just enough and then a good amount before I left my job. I had a small pot when I started mentoring. And this simple, low-overhead, #onegirlband, sole tradership created a fairly regular income quite quickly.

Now, I have a loan, a staff, a two year lease, and a business not yet earning it’s keep. Every member of staff involved is making more money from Copper Boom than I am right now.

And let me say right now: this is normal.

There’s so much pressure in the entrepreneurship community about hitting six figures, about immediately getting to a huge profit margin, and gaining #lifegoals and lifestyle aspiration immediately.

You guys, it takes a while, especially with overheads and ideas and developing a brand.

I’m fairly risk-friendly these days. I acknowledge that you have to be at least a little bit vulnerable to try something. And you will make the best decisions you can, but there will still be decisions that don’t work out. Or need refining.

I want to talk about this because I think it’s important to recognise we’re all human and working in an imperfect environment. That doesn’t mean we don’t try to do good or look good. It just means we know that we all fail and stall and slow down from time to time.

And for me? The truth of it is I have close to zero pounds in the bank. And a bucketload of ideas and valuable services to offer. Yes, I will continue.

If everyone judged their success on the financial results of the first six months of trading, very few businesses would exist now.

So. I’m going to be here, telling the truth, working hard and being perfectly imperfect.

Join me?


The Big New Idea: the need for courage and clarity

courage and clarityHi, my name is Jenny, and I’m mostly tired and not entirely sure what I’m doing.

Not necessarily what you’d expect to hear from a business mentor and coach, right? Being mostly tired and uncertain may not sound like what you want from a person whose job it is to help you run your business better.

I have turned these truths – that I’m tired, and that that might not be my best ever marketing message – over in my mind many times in the last few weeks. I thought maybe I’d just have an unintentional break from blogging while I’m in the difficult, murky work of setting up Copper Boom Studio (LIMITED!!), and then re-emerge when it’s all shiny and functional and awesome.

But then I realised that it didn’t feel right.

So many of my favourite writers and people do it differently. They share while they’re going through The Hard Stuff, rather than just looking back at it when they feel sane again. Elizabeth Gilbert continues to do it so elegantly and evocatively. Glennon Melton Doyle warriors on through difficult times. Brene Brown talks about this as an important step in Rising Strong.

So I knew I had to write about my progress, even though I don’t feel clear or enthusiastic. I had to share this messiness, in order to be as authentic as I believe myself to be.

Since I last wrote (over a month ago), here’s what’s happened:

  • Copper Boom became a limited company (yay!)
  • I got a loan to grow the business by moving into premises and adding people to the business (yay!)
  • The process of commercial lease and lawyer and long waits began (yay, and also bleurgh)

I’ve been, in turn, wildly excited and amazed at what I’m building, and then completely overwhelmed by what I need to achieve.

There have been tears, and moments when I’ve said, “I just can’t,” and, “I don’t know what to do” over and over again. I’ve shouted at my partner, as he tries to help me figure out what to do next, “Everything is important. There’s nothing that I can de-prioritise.” Yep. Glamorous moments.

These moments are when I ask (myself? some mysterious higher power?) for courage and clarity. For glimmers of hope, and for the way ahead. Because sometimes that’s all I can do. The weird thing is, once I sit and ask for clarity on something, it usually comes. Not because I sit there puzzling over it like a Sudoku, but because I stop thinking about it and follow my instincts instead.

After the “everything is important” conversation, I stomped out, walked around, had tea, and then realised that Ryan was right. In fact, he had given me the key to my mountain of work, my paralysis. He had used the phrase “Mission Critical”.

So I wrote up another version of my epic list. I labelled things Mission Critical, Very Important, Important and Less Important. (Because everything’s still important, y’know?)

It helped. It helped me see that having everything on the first day we move into our new premises (and I don’t yet know exactly when that will be) isn’t actually essential. We can survive without all the furniture for a week or so. We can borrow a vacuum cleaner from home if we need to, at the beginning. This clarity helps. Let’s keep it to absolute essentials: sign the lease, have a limited bank account, make a box of kitchen / bathroom essentials. Do the rest later. Keep the short term truly short term.

And, as we’re not even sure when the lease will be signed just yet, there’s no point buying furniture and booking it to be delivered. I can move quickly on that tomorrow or next week, when I have more information.

Which reminds me of something my mum says: “Where you have clarity, make decisions.”

Even today, this Tuesday, I have said I’m struggling. I have hoped, out loud, for some good news, because there are so many requests and questions. I have questioned whether this studio, this business is something I really want to do. Please understand. I am doing this. It is happening. But I want to show you that I, too, like all of us, question things even when I know that they’re good and will be worthwhile. It is always messy. There is always doubt. Even the best business plans require change and adapting to fit the reality. Because no one in the history of the world has followed an exact business plan. Predicting the future is still elusive.

This is courage. To continue, even when I’m not sure of every step on my path. To pivot in a direction I didn’t expect to take, knowing that it’s essential to do so, not a problem.

Do I feel like I’m failing? Yes. Am I actually failing? No.

I actually feel like I’m developing experience, resilience, and empathy that’s going to help me mentor clients and support others in the future. It’s already helping. My existing clients (who have had more patience and understanding for me than I could ever have expected) have already said that they know I get it, because I’m going through it. (“It” being the challenge of business, of decision making, of juggling conflicting priorities all the live long day, of desperately wanting a conversation that isn’t about money.)

So I have hope that this is the essential middle. That this is part of the purpose of Copper Boom – to teach me how to get through this building phase.

Two phrases spring to mind:

This too shall pass


The only way out is through

I will keep going. I don’t yet know what I’m going to do once I post this, but I know that one small step after another will get me through.

Before I sign off, it feels important to say, if I’ve let you down recently, I’m truly sorry. If you’re waiting for me to get back to you about something, please accept my sincere apologies, and nudge me if I can still help. I will, at the very least, let you know when I’ll be able to respond properly.

Courage and clarity, my friends, courage and clarity.

Until soon

Jenny x



Enter The Forge

Life's too damn short to chase someone else's definition of success. I'm here to give you the courage and tools to forge your own path.