When Anna’s long-standing senior role in operational excellence for a multi-national company left her suffering exhaustion and stress, she gave up her job and after a period of rest and recovery she wanted to do something to prevent others experiencing what she’d just gone through.
She co-founded a business and for a while work was good. Anna discovered a new sense of confidence and happiness working with big organisations on measures to avoid stress and overwhelm affecting staff, or on supporting people to be reintegrated into the workplace after absence caused by overwhelm.
The familiar brick wall
But as happens with most female entrepreneurs, she hit a brick wall after her first wave of success. And like Sofia, the fictional character we use to illustrate this phase in our book The Founder’s Story, Anna felt alone, lost and stuck. She was enjoying the work but there was something missing.
“I’d experienced initial business growth and had wonderful clients. But I thought I could reproduce the same going forward,” says Anna. “Instead I ended up behaving and thinking the way Sofia does – flat and unmotivated and this had implications for the people around me and my clients.
“I was tuning into what I thought I should be doing, guided by external needs and voices but not because it was what I wanted to do. It meant I was pulled this way and that without any clear sense of direction instead of stopping and saying, ‘this is who I am and this is what I want to do’.”
It’s a dance that’s familiar to Julie Perkins, Wyseminds founder and Sofia’s creator. She produced the book as a way to show women that the struggles they face in the various phases of business growth are common to all founders.
Purpose: the key ingredient
Wyseminds helped unblock Anna’s thinking so she identified the underlying cause of her uncertainty: by choosing large corporations as customers, she had effectively removed herself from the individuals with whom she wanted to connect. Her work was no longer serving her personal purpose to “ignite those around her to live their lives to the fullest potential”.
“When working with big business clients, there was little room to connect to people in the way I needed to. I’m a people person and was dealing with a corporate face. What was missing was human connection. I was misaligned with my customers and it was this that made me stuck. Once I understood this I realised I had found the key ingredient of entrepreneurialism – purpose.”
Through The Founder’s Story, Anna was able to understand aspects of her own personality that led to her Sofia moment, and how these factors all interlink.
Sofia’s story: the path to clarity
Reading about Sofia made Anna question herself and her values. Using the powerball tool that Julie explains in her other book The Wyseway, provided a tangible answer as to what exactly was out of balance in her business.
“The confusion and uncertainty had stopped me from connecting to my customers,” she says. “As a result, I wasn’t having the impact I wanted. It was so clear where it was coming from and it was comforting reading about Sofia and knowing this is something every business leader goes through.”
Anna redesigned her company, Anna G. Coaching, and explored what was possible while having Julie alongside her as her guide. “I went back to the drawing board and made some tweaks – not huge ones, but enough to bring the flow back.” She changed her target customer and no longer went after big corporate clients. From now on she would work with founders in the early stages of their start-ups to help them build operational structure.
Her organisational purpose now is to help female founders “step into their brilliant zone”. She supports them with the operations side of their business, like recruiting, budgeting, overcoming the fear of hiring the wrong person and how best to delegate.
Human connection for a people person
Having gone back to establish the missing link, Anna now understands the impact she wants to make through her work.
“I am a people person and my business is more human now – it comes from the connection with the client. Listening to their needs. My previous approach was to do what brings in the money, not necessarily what I want to do. Don’t be afraid to change your business model if it’s not working,” she says.
Would you like a copy of the book A founder’s story and learn from Sofia and her entrepreneurial growth journey?
You can get it in our shop for € 10,00 now or for free by joining our programme on Your Journey, here.