Ah, the million dollar question. Before I answer that, let me share my online business models story.
In 1998, I made the decision to quit my job and start my own business.
As I taught myself to read when I was three years old because I wanted to write stories so badly, it seemed like a no-brainer to start a freelance writing business.
So, I did what most new entrepreneurs and business owners do—I created a business model that mirrored what I saw other professional freelance writers doing (especially copywriters, who write copy for businesses, nothing to do with protecting intellectual property or putting a copyright on something).
The problem with choosing a business model that way is that it’s highly likely you’ll end up with the wrong business model for you.
In my case, I had most definitely chosen the wrong business model for myself. Over the years, I found myself exhausted, stressed, and overwhelmed. I burned out multiple times.
I was also extremely unhappy.
In fact, looking back at that time of my life, I see how I created a bunch of unhealthy, toxic patterns and cycles in order to keep myself chained to my business.
Why did I do that if I wasn’t happy? Well, first off, I never admitted to myself how unhappy I was (if I had, I might have changed things sooner). But, the main reason was fear.
What if I built the business my heart was telling me to? What would happen? Who would I be?
In the vast majority of cases, fear is what stops us.
The sad part of my story is I’m not the only one who has done this. Many entrepreneurs and business owners have locked themselves into a business model that doesn’t suit them.
And, in many of those cases, it happens that way because we don’t know what we don’t know.
We have no idea how to start and run a business. So, we look at the people around us who have similar businesses, and we model what we see them do.
Or, we see other successful entrepreneurs and business owners who are selling business mentoring and coaching, and we decide to buy their system. (After all, they’re successful, they must know what they’re doing. Plus, they made it easy for us by creating a system for us to follow.)
Maybe we think we want a certain business and we don’t know that we don’t until we’ve actually built the business. (This definitely happened to me.)
What complicates matters even more is when we take that wrong business model, and make it a success. On one hand, yay us for building a successful business (not everyone succeeds). But, on the other hand, we’ve just created our very own pair of golden handcuffs.
And, if we were afraid before of building a business, we’re in even more fear now, because how can we ditch this business model when our families and our livelihood depend on it?
So, we feel trapped. Which just adds to our unhappiness with our overall business.
But, there’s good news: It doesn’t have to be this way. You CAN build a business you love AND that loves you back.
And, it starts with discovering the right business model for you.
There are a lot of different online business models to choose from, and now, I’m going to walk you through how to get started finding the right business model for you.
Tip 1: Take an assessment.
Business strategist Shawn Driscoll is the first author to join the Love-Based Business family with her book “Love-Based Business Models: A Simple System for Building a Business You Love.” In it, she includes an assessment which she calls The Trailblazer Quotient™ (TQ), or the TQ Assessment, that’s designed to help you determine which business model is right for you.
As Shawn explains, there are four main online business models and depending on your TQ score, you’ll understand how to structure your current business to cater to your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.
I know for myself, Shawn’s work was a huge wake up call. She and I had been friends for a long time, and during one of the times I had burned out, she (correctly) thought that maybe my business model was the problem. She encouraged me to take her TQ assessment, and then she and I discussed the results.
I had indeed built pretty much the exact opposite business model I was suited for, so it was no wonder I was burning out. She helped coach me on how to start to shift into one of the online business models I was better suited to.
Quite honestly, this is the fastest, easiest way to start, but you can also begin by exploring some of the blocks that may be stopping you from exploring a different business model.
Tip 2: Create a space place to explore your feelings.
For myself, I was so terrified of admitting to myself how unhappy I was, because I secretly thought if I did that, I would do something drastic, like tear down my current business model … which would mean I’d no longer have money flowing in.
That fear couldn’t be further from the truth. (Although, paradoxically, if I had kept ignoring my unhappiness, the day may have come when I would have thrown caution to the wind and burned everything down, thus bringing my worst fears to light. Hence, another example of the more we try and suppress our fears, the more likely we’ll actually have them come true.)
Shawn coaches entrepreneurs to understand that there is no need to burn everything down. In fact, it’s better if you DO build a bridge.
So, to start, take a deep breath. Just because you’re exploring different online business models or taking an assessment doesn’t mean you have to change anythingat this point. You’re just gathering information. That’s how you make informed decisions.
And, feel whatever wants to come up. Don’t try to stop it or bury it or run away from it. Simply feel it and let it move through you.
Once you do that, you won’t be so triggered every time you consider moving to a different business model, which will allow you to be more objective as you consider your long-term business vision.
Tip 3: Make a plan to become the business owner your soul is nudging you to become.
I talk about this more in my “Love-Based Goals” book, but the idea behind this is there are some goals you have (I call them your “love-based goals”) that in order for them to come true, you need to become the person your soul is nudging you to become.
Your business model may be nudging you in the same way—in order to change your business model to one you’re better suited for, you may need to step into that entrepreneur identity.
Is your soul nudging you to step fully into your entrepreneur identity so you choose the right business model for you?
A great way to start is to “act as if” — what would you be doing all day if your business was set up perfectly for you? How would your to-do list change? What would your habits be?
What if you started to bring those behaviors into your day right now? How would that start to transform your current business model into the one that’s perfect for you?
(And, of course, feel all the feelings as they come up.)
If you want to explore if you have the right business model for you, check out Shawn Driscoll’s “Love-Based Business Models” book right here.