When the Idea Becomes Reality
How many times throughout your life have you said, “Oh, that’s a good idea” and then actually carried out that idea? I’m willing to bet a handful of times weekly you do this for little things, like making a Halloween costume for your kids, or creating a fun menu board for your household. With every new idea we imagine, there is an underlining motive or intent, as I like to call it. Why is that idea important enough to carry it out, when ten other ideas that day got dismissed? There is always a reason you feel motivated enough to see it through. The more ideas that come to fruition, the stronger your entrepreneurial genius rises.
I had a thought one day... I can do that better, I told myself. And so I did. I had a vision to work for myself. I had a self-motivating attitude and deep desire to serve others. I created my company called Canadian Surrogacy Community. I’ve been running this business for almost four years now and I’m never content with status quo. Challenging myself, growing the business, and adding value is a constant idea in my mind. That’s why I’m successful. I’m never happy with just enough. I get shit done.
What Defines Success?
The short answer is: YOU. Your goals are unique. Set them. Accomplish them. Pave your way to create your own reality. Taking that leap is difficult. Risk means vulnerability. You can’t have one without the other. Anything worth doing comes with the potential for failure, but also the potential for success. When we fail, we learn. When we learn, we grow. My motivation was fear. It wasn’t fear of failing, it was fear of regret for not trying. And that’s a fierce motivator for me. I want to live a full life of no regret.
My business isn’t one of steady gain. It is a constant rollercoaster. I help people find women to house their embryo and carry a baby for them! It’s a bit of a niche market. How many of us have tried to fundraise anything for sports or school? I hate asking anybody to buy anything! And yet I find myself able to empower women and support them through one of the biggest decisions of their lives. It’s because I value who I am and what I bring to the table.
Understanding Your Worth
More often than not, it is more prevalent to hear negative self-talk in conversations than positive mindset. Our fear of failing drives our mind into signing an unconscious contract with ourselves that sets us up to fail before we even try.
- I’m not good enough.
- Nobody would want to hire me.
- What do I have that the next guy doesn’t?
Well that’s a good question, so maybe we should start there. What is YOUR worth? What makes you stand out from the crowd? Unless there is absolutely nobody in your business market with you, (which is highly unlikely) competition is real. So get used to it. Do it better. Create your own person. Who are you?
Always go back to why you started your business. When times get tough, and you can’t fathom how to move forward, go back to why your original idea manifested itself. Let that wash over you. That feeling of brilliance and creativity is what drove you. Don’t give up.
Sometimes it’s challenging to stay the course, but remember this thought: The universe is lining you up exactly where you are meant to be. Every hill you have to climb is to teach you resilience and help you develop new skills. Embrace your brilliance and count on yourself to show up!
Our Deepest Fear
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I heard this poem in a movie called 'Coach Carter' many years ago. If you've never heard of it, check it out. It's a film about a basketball coach who takes on a team of predominantly black students in a rough neighbourhood and tries to teach them how to value themselves on and off the basketball court, even when the school system is continually failing them. It is an inspiring true story about hope and beating the odds. One of the students recites that poem near the end. It sent shivers up my spine at the time and still does every time I read it. It impacted me so much that I tattooed the second line on my back.
Let the poem wash over your whole being. Because I come back to these words over and over again as a parent, a partner, a friend, and a business owner. It reminds me of the strength I know exists inside me. It reminds me that while negative self-talk might be popular among the masses, I will not be part of the crowd. I will rise up and stand above the rest. This isn’t ego, this is powerful female embodiment. It has been tempting over the years to shrink around others because my accomplishments make them uncomfortable. I can feel it ooze off them. I can read their loaded thoughts. They feel insecure with my ability to serve others without question. I keep repeating in my mind, “Your playing small does not serve the world.” And I’m shifted back to my own reality. Be GREAT! You can’t change the people who want to shrink you, but you can liberate the ones who desire to be great and need a shining example.
Add Value – The Ticket to Riding that Train
I have zero business experience. But in truth, most people who are entrepreneurs don’t have an educational background in business. Successful entrepreneurs are creative minds with drive and passion to do it better than the rest. They can get up every morning and accomplish goals, stay the course, and don’t let vulnerability stop them.
Know How to Sell Yourself
My Dad is a salesman for Delta Farm Equipment. They sell those red tractors. He’s been doing it for a long time, but in truth my Dad has been selling himself for his whole life. I’ve watched him with people since I was a little girl. I’ve always known his approach and understood my Dad is respected, not for his sale pitch, but his ability to be REAL. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like my Dad. He has customers who aren’t even in his area, but will request him. Why? Because while my Dad has learned his trade to perfection, he doesn’t bullshit people. It's his ability to be real.
What’s his education? Grade 10. My Dad didn’t have years of school training. My Dad was a farmer and he wanted to work and had the strength to launch himself into the world, learn from others, and make a name for himself. He was a farmer, a business owner, a salesman. And yes, before you say it, I understand this is a different world today and you can't get too far without some formal education. But it shows that the ability to complete levels of education, isn't what makes people good at what they do. You could have a teacher who passes university with flying colours but doesn't actually like children. It is sort of a prerequisite to teaching. But I've seen so many teachers over my years that were clearly smart as a whip and lousy with understanding children. Just knowing your craft doesn't make you an expert at delivering it. That comes with passion and personality.
My Dad worked for others and for himself and from Grade 10 on, he never burned a bridge anywhere he went. He is respected and in turn has created a very successful persona that allows him to continue what he loves. He’s 65 and it’s doubtful he’s even remotely close to retirement. His company will do just about anything to keep him because his years of experience adds a level of value they can’t quickly replace.
My Dad is an inspiration to me. The average person might see a man who simply sells tractors for a living. I see a man who has set an example of how to treat others. He always shows up. If I need a hand moving something, or I need help with the kids, he always shows up. So when people ask me what drives me, I tell them I want to be REAL.
Recently I got a message from a client of mine – a woman I’m helping through the beginning stages of surrogacy. She hasn’t found her special lady yet, but she’s so hopeful. In her message to me she said:
“I am so glad we came across your agency and had the pleasure to meet you guys and now work with you. Looking for and picking an agency was hard, but we just clicked with you and it just felt so right. I think it’s because you are so “real” and it makes us feel safe and comfortable… if that makes sense.”
Yes it makes sense. In that moment, I smiled and a warm feeling came over me. That word… REAL. Everything I had wanted to accomplish in business boiled down to that one word. Real. While I followed my competitors and valued some of their decisions and accomplishments, I wanted to create something unique. I wanted to be ME.
Hard Truths in Business
Not everyone will like you
I realized early on in my career, that my strong personality and inability to give on my ethics and morals left me open for the wolves. The bigger I climbed, the more people criticized my way of doing things. I changed what was always the norm in my field. I created a program that was different than anything offered before. I am always looking for ways to add value.
I was such a people pleaser for a long time. I wanted every person to sign up and every person to have a happy ending. Then I hit a wall. The law of averages say not everyone is going to appreciate your way of doing things. The first time someone let me know they thought I sucked, I cried for days. I thought the world was coming to an end.
Let it bounce off you. Don’t take it personally.
Everyone comes in with their own story and their own version of truth. It won't always match yours. If you know you are doing your best, do not engage the haters. Smile, let negativity take a hike, and go back to finding the perfect clients for you. Stay professional above all else!
Risky decisions are inevitable
The truth serum is this: To be different and to try new ways of evolving your business, you have to be able to risk someone disagreeing with you. I run a very emotionally-driven business that involves human beings! I’m not selling shoes. While I am always true to myself, I had to draw boundaries after a few years. I had to respect myself enough to know how to turn away clients who didn’t fit the program I had created.
I had to believe in myself enough to screen and select the best possible couples for my surrogates to choose from. I didn’t want to work with everyone who emailed or called me. I wanted to work with the people who valued what I brought to the table and accepted the vision I had founded the company on. I wanted to work with people who recognized my authenticity and wanted someone at the helm who would always protect and guide them.
Connection is NOT weakness
I wanted to find a balance between business and personal connection and that is no easy feat. The more you give, the more some people will take. Having boundaries is about self-preservation. Find a way for your clients to respect your value and boundaries. This is a learning curve. It doesn’t happen overnight.
I was so altruistic in the beginning I believed in sunshine and rainbows and the inner good of everyone. While I continue to believe in the good of people, I now understand that when you are raw with people it leaves you vulnerable. That is a scary reality. You put your heart on the line and it can get stepped on. But every time I do a consultation with a couple who breaks into tears, telling me about their ten years of infertility and heartache, I tell myself this… They are putting it all out there. They are being raw and risking the judgement and rejection of a complete stranger. They are being brave and giving me a glimpse into their pain-stricken souls. I have a responsibility to listen to them with my whole self and to be vulnerable in return. I’m selling them hope… I’m selling them me. There is a fine line I am still learning to walk. I can’t give them guarantees of a baby. What I can give them is hope. I can give them the promise that I will do everything I can do help them. I can give them me, and I am one powerful woman, who is driven to be the best. But I can also give them my boundaries. I can be real with them and still wear the business hat. To be human is to connect with others. It does not make you weak to show your soft side. When I do calls they are always face to face in person, or via video chat. I want people to see me. I want them to see my expressions and see my eyes. I want the same from them. It’s why I never do phone calls or emails to explain my programs. Connection makes you real.
You must believe in your Value or nobody else will
Nobody comes to you talking about your profit margins. If they think you aren’t doing what you do to make money, they need to check themselves at the door. Nobody is an entrepreneur to simply serve others. I can’t put food on the table for my family if I can’t get paid. This is the reality nobody wants to talk about. I’ve always been transparent about my fees and what clients get with my programs. I’m currently designing new pdfs to explain a recent increase in fees.
I’m currently designing new pdfs to explain a recent increase in fees. I feel it’s okay to show people your business and have them understand where the value is, without giving them a spreadsheet with your profit margins. If you can’t see and believe in the value of what you bring to the table, neither will they. Stop doubting what you are worth!
Don’t overprice yourself out of the competition, or undercut yourself to get more clients. Do the math. Figure out on paper the actual value you bring and know what kind of money you need to bring home. What is your time worth? Your company depends on you to make sound financial decisions to keep afloat. If you can’t do that, you aren’t going to last long in your market. You have to stand behind what you charge. I have been undercutting myself for years. Inspiration to increase my fees, but also add more value, have come from some of the passionate entrepreneurs in my network. While I want everyone to be able to afford my services, the hard reality is that not everyone can afford surrogacy, just like not everyone can afford adoption or a new car. There is no entitlement allowed in creating a family. There are many people who have suffered silently, knowing they would never have children, in a time when IVF treatments didn’t even exist. I cannot undervalue what I offer anymore, because I spent the greater part of the first couple years going backwards with some cases. I gave, so they kept taking. I could have worked at McDonalds Restaurant for the amount I was making. I can’t do that anymore. This is my full time job. This is my love, my passion, my creation and I have to value it. Making money doesn’t mean I am not driven wholeheartedly by what I do. We have been engrained, especially as women, to believe that to ask for money for services is a shame. I’m not running a non-profit organization. Last month my grocery bill was about $1,500 for our family. HOLY CRAP, eh? Uh huh. I stay transparent about my value. If you can’t see that value, than I fully accept you going somewhere else. I don’t take it personally.
I respect my worth. Are you doing the same?