This episode of the Sage Thought Leadership Podcast features Carolin Soldo. Carolin is one of the most recognized coaches for women business owners. She has been named female entrepreneur of the year by the Stevie Awards and has created an Inc. 5000 ranked global business.
Why do you do what you do?
Carolin Soldo: I like to say because I want to be happy every single day and I want to live without regret.
You’ve encountered many entrepreneurs who seem to fall out of love with their businesses and you help them with that. Can you talk a bit about that?
Carolin Soldo: There are a few common reasons why people fall out of love with their business. What we often hear is that their niche no longer fits them. Over time, their personality and their interests change. Then there is a gap between where they are and who they’re serving that expands. That makes them feel out of alignment.
Some people say their needs are constantly unmet, they’re overworking, they’re over giving, maybe they’re feeling underappreciated. A lot of people just give more than they receive in terms of time and money. They are working a lot, putting a lot of hours in, and not earning as much as they would like to.
Sometimes markets shift, competition rises, technology changes, and consumer behavior shifts, which is what we’re seeing right now.
So, there are a lot of reasons why business owners eventually come to me, especially women and say, “I’m not really feeling inspired and motivated. I’m not in love with my business anymore. What can I do about that?”
I love helping them with that. Because I personally feel if your business doesn’t make you happy, it can’t ever be successful.
What are some of the reasons people fall out of love with their business? After they have a number of employees, do they feel they become more like a manager than an entrepreneur?
Carolin Soldo: That can be one reason. We see people who have been in business for a couple of years struggle with building teams, motivating other people to do a good job.
But there are also business owners who have no teams or very small teams, maybe just one person helping them. They’ve been doing all this work on their own for a long time and they struggle just as much.
What are some of the suggestions you make to them? Do you first have to identify the cause before launching a solution?
Carolin Soldo: We do a brainstorm. We figure out the top four or five reasons that make you feel like you don’t want this business anymore. Or why you want to remodel it.
The big thing is that we don’t want to just let it go. We try to reinvent the business, figure out what assets we have to work with. How do we build on this business that’s already there so we’re not starting from scratch? It all starts by figuring out what’s not serving us anymore and how can we release that.
There is a lot of guilt…a lot of shame associated when people say, “You know what, I can’t just let that go. I’m going to look bad. People expect things of me.” There’s an emotional aspect too.
We employ a lot of intuition and creativity to figure out what we really want and find the answers and the clarity to what kind of business we want. How do we reinvent it? Who do we want to serve? What do we want to change?
We have to be playful in this process. This is where people get stuck. They sort of have an idea, eventually, as to what they want. But then they expect it to be there and they expect it to be perfect. Fear, doubt—all of that kicks in.
Being playful is hard when you’ve been in business for many years. You have your rules, your processes, and procedures. You’re not playing around anymore because you’re a real business owner now. So being playful again is hard.
Then, of course, we have to create a plan. It’s a combination of creativity, intuition, but also strategy to look at the business mission and target market.
We ask: “What are we actually offering? How do we brand this with some messaging or new marketing campaigns? What is our team? Do we change the team and hire new people? How do we systemize all of that?”
We build a whole new business plan and have them fully let go of the old business, so to speak, and jump into the reinvention process.
Sometimes this happens quickly. Sometimes it can take a long time. I remodeled my own business, and it took me over two years. It was a long process for me.
I’ve encountered the entrepreneur who is the leader and thinks of themselves like a white knight who has to save everyone. Remember when we used to travel and the saying of ‘you have to secure your own mask before helping others’? I think that’s such an important point for so many leaders to recognize, especially entrepreneurs.
Carolin Soldo: Absolutely. Probably one of the top three complaints I hear is that they are just so burned out by the business. Many of them feel stuck. They can’t go back because they have responsibilities, expenses, and expectations, but they don’t really know where to go with it. It’s a really painful place to be in for many people.
Some people are just serial entrepreneurs. They’re just that good at the startup thing. Is that where their passion is, that full startup phase? It’s not running a business once they get there.
Carolin Soldo: Absolutely. The final kick in the pants for me was when I spoke to one of my good friends in business.
She said to me, “You’re an entrepreneur. You have all the freedoms and if you don’t allow yourself to make this business what you want it to be, then why do all of this?
If you can take charge and, and really make the business serve you, why do you put yourself through all this hard work? You don’t have a boss, you’re your own boss. You make the decisions.”
I thought, she’s right. I’m going to regret this if I stay stuck. Some people are really good at creating new stuff and coming up with new ideas. Other people are better at managing things.
And lastly, Carolin, how can somebody contact you?
Carolin Soldo: Our website is carolinsoldo.com. We have workshops, resources, blogs, and videos. Go check it out.