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Welcome to Episode #3 of Business Tales From The Crypt: The Invisibility Curse.
It’s every entrepreneurs dream to grow their business by doing meaningful work, touching lives, and making a positive impact in the world. But how can you make an impact when no one is listening to you? How do you grow a business if no one is buying from you?
This is a story about one entrepreneur who was plagued by the invisibility curse. No one signed up for her classes. No one read her emails. No one seemed to care about her work. She felt invisible, unimportant, uncreative, and unsuccessful.
Did this ambitious entrepreneur succumb to the invisibility curse and give up on her dreams? Did she let the hopelessness of feeling unimportant eat her alive? Find out in this episode…
The Invisibility Curse
It was around this time a few years ago. The air was cool and crisp, and the Autumn leaves danced in circles along the sidewalk.
I listened to the rustling leaves through my open window, took a sip of my coffee, and felt a deep sense of satisfaction as I put the finishing touches on the online workshop I had just created.
The workshop had been a labor of love…a project that was important to me…something I was eager to share with the world. I wanted to help women get in control of their finances and stop turning over their financial power to their male partners…and the workshop I’d worked hard to create was designed to do just that.
I’d spent months pulling it together and weeks preparing materials to promote the workshop. It was time to open enrollment, FINALLY help women in the powerful way I’d been wanting to, and FINALLY get paid for the time and energy I’d invested over the past few months.
My goal was to enroll 30 students in the class, and as I rolled out promotional emails and social media posts over the course of the week, I eagerly waited for my roster to fill up.
But it never did. Not a single person signed up for the workshop.
No one inquired about it. No one even acknowledged that I was offering a class.
I felt so confused…I’d done everything “right”, hadn’t I? I felt defeated…maybe I just totally suck and shouldn’t offer another workshop again. I felt heartbroken…I’d invested so much of myself in creating something special and it all felt like a huge waste.
I gave myself a day to wallow in self pity and then I moved on. Clearly, there was more work that needed to be done.
Shortly after my workshop flopped, I received an email from a podcast host I’d been coordinating with. She’d invited me to be a guest on her show, but her email was to let me know that she’d decided to end her podcast and move her business in a different direction.
I felt like she didn’t care at all about what I had to say…and neither did anyone else.
Another setback. Another disappointment. Another day of wallowing with too many double stuffed Oreos.
The following week, I logged into my email software to schedule newsletters and glanced at my subscriber list. The stats were mildly pathetic. Only 16% of my email subscribers had opened my last email. Five people had unsubscribed the day before.
I lost it.
After the string of events that took place over the previous two weeks, I’d had it. I cried so hard my eyes looked like red cream puffs. I was so frustrated that I wanted to throw my computer through the window so I’d never “waste time working on a business that no one cared about” ever again.
I felt like an invisibilty curse had been cast over me.
No one seemed to care about my work. No one was reading my emails. No one was buying from me. Feeling invisible and unimportant, I felt there was no point in even trying…and I should just burn my business to the ground and get a “real job”.
Feeling desperate, unimportant, untalented, and completely invisible, I started scrolling through job postings on Indeed. And that actually made me feel worse.
I didn’t really want to walk away from my business. I didn’t want to give up. But what was the point of continuing if my work was going to remain invisible? I felt like my business was on the “Nowhere Train” and getting there fast.
Just as I was scoffing at the ridiculously lengthy job descriptions I was reading, my phone dinged as a new email arrived in my inbox.
It was a reply to the last email I’d sent out. It simply said, “I love your story and feel so inspired by it. Thank you for sharing.”
OMG! Someone actually read my email! There WAS life out there! Someone cared enough about what I wrote to take the time to respond!
Those two little sentences completely changed my outlook on my business and my work…and the steps I took after that helped me feel better.
Here’s what I did to break free from the icky feelings of the INVISIBILITY CURSE (and how you can too):
- Remember every person counts.
You don’t need thousands of email subscribers or millions of followers for your work to matter. You only need ONE. And it can be your mom, your BFF, or the crazy cat lady down the street. Focus on brightening ONE person’s day instead of trying to reach the masses.
- Don’t expect compliments or applause.
The purpose of your business isn’t to get a gazillion likes or comments. It’s not to receive a round of applause every time you post on your blog. You’re not doing the work you do for accolades or awards. You’re doing the work because you want to help people…and your work is making a difference in someone’s life, even if they aren’t telling you about it. Some people are quiet and don’t say much. Silence doesn’t mean your work stinks or no one cares.
- Do the work because you love it.
You’re here doing this work because you LOVE it…and you’re skilled at it…and you want to HELP people. Focus on loving your work, honing your skills, and being helpful. No one follows your blog? Who cares. Write it anyway-because you love it. No publishers want your book? Who cares. Write your book anyway- because you love it. One of the joys of entrepreneurship is expressing your creativity. Create what you love.
Everyone experiences the INVISIBILITY CURSE from time to time…but don’t let it crush your dreams or kill your business. It’s okay to feel discouraged, frustrated, confused, and invisible as you grow your business and put your work out into the world. Every entrepreneur goes through it…even the super, mega successful ones.
Just remember: you matter. Your work matter – even if it touches just ONE person in one TINY way. Your voice and ideas matter.
People are watching and listening, even if you don’t know it. Keep showing up for them. Keep working to make someone’s day a little better and the world a little brighter…because it feels good.
Still feeling like your work doesn’t matter? Need a pep talk?
Email me here. I’m ready to cheer you up and cheer you on.