Digital Strategy Insights Marie Poulin

Stop trying to do it all by yourself


Over the last few years of running my business I’ve really come to terms with how crucial it is to have the right people on your team.

And I don’t necessarily mean employees or contractors either (of which I have neither other than an occasional Virtual Assistant, who is the best kept secret btw…). I mean on your side.

Who do you go to if you’re stuck, or need a fresh perspective? Who challenges you to think bigger? To see yourself differently than your imposter-complex brain wants to see you? Who can you be completely vulnerable with?

There’s a fantastic interview on Chase Jarvis Live with Brene Brown (what an amazing human) where she suggests listing the people whose opinions actually matter to you on a tiny piece of paper. These people love you not despite your imperfections, but because of them. You shouldn’t have a very big list; I know mine is probably 5-6 people.

Do you know off the top of your head who these people are for you?

She also talks about the power of creative circles and communities, and that the most dangerous thing you can assume is that people have reached their success on their own.

This resonated so deeply with me, because I know I spent the first few years of running my business trying to do everything on my own. I thought that if I put my head down and hustled enough, I would eventually succeed. That whole “it takes a village to raise a child” thing — it applies to business too. I am so grateful that I’ve had such incredible supportive forces in my life, especially over the last few years of running my business.

If I could go back in time and give a small piece of advice to young Marie, it would probably be:

Don’t try to do it all alone. Oh, and hire a business coach.

Don’t be stubborn. Assemble your cast. Find the mentor that sees in you the potential you don’t yet see; the one who helps you see your blind spots, calls you on your bullshit, and refuses to let you play small. Find the tribe that you can be vulnerable with. It’s a small group, but it’s an essential one.

As my impact begins to scale, and I move from being a solo designer with individual clients, to mentoring and teaching small groups of designers, it is that much more essential that I have my team in place. Because the truth is? Putting your creative work out into the world is completely terrifying (at least it was for me). I was not prepared for the emotional and psychological parts of launching a big creative project into the world. 

And so I’ve assembled my team slowly over the years. It’s OK— it takes time to find your people!

What could this look like in your business?

(Aka: what this looks like in my business)

  • The business bestie who completely understands what it’s like when your brain has difficulty “shutting off,” and all you want to do is talk about business. Your launch buddy with whom you coordinate your launches so that you can celebrate together, learn alongside one another, and commiserate together when needed.
  • The partner who supports you without hesitation, no matter how big or crazy your ideas, no matter how stressed you feel, or how unsure of yourself you become. They are the rock that keeps you grounded, supported, appreciated and encouraged.
  • The soul sister whose connection makes you feel so heard and understood, that there’s nothing you couldn’t say or feel in her presence. She celebrates the highs with you, and feels with you so deeply in the lows. She sends you little gifts and thank-you’s just because. Regardless of where you both are in your lives and businesses, there’s always time for an impromptu 2 hour Skype call.
  • The actual sister (the brunette pictured in the photo above) who is so proud of you, and cheers you on every step of the way.
  • The peers who are willing to be vulnerable with you and admit that they struggle too, and don’t have all the answers. They’re willing to show you their edges if it means that you can both grow and learn from your experiences.
  • The coach-friends who leave little wisdom-bombs that explode in your brain and you continue to feel the effects for weeks, months, years afterward.
  • The friends that encourage you and can relate to the journey of both womanhood and entrepreneurship.
  • The mastermind participants/friends that show up fully, letting you see all the highs, lows, insights and learnings that have brought them to where they are today, as well as the vision for where they want to be, and those that hold space for you to do the same.
  • And most recently, the life coach who sees your potential so fully that she wants nothing more than to see you step into your starring role. I’ve only had one session with Tanya, but the work we did in that one session is already challenging me in ways I couldn’t possibly have predicted. Tanya’s work is centered around helping people own their authority, conquer their imposter complex, and move beyond comparison.

As I grow and scale, and do work that really matters to me, I put more of myself into the world (which is damn scary). Coming out of my “shell,” and being on a both metaphorical or literal stage is not a place of ease or comfort, but I’ve come to realize that doing big important work that really makes a difference in people’s lives matters to me. A lot. It’s what makes me feel connected. And when I feel connected, I am in joy. As Tanya helped me discover, my Brand of Joy is Connection. I am a Potential Cultivator, seeing the beautiful possibilities in everyone, and helping them to arrive at the best version of themselves; the self they may not quite see just yet.

So in order to connect, make people feel heard, supported, inspired and motivated, I need to make space for my own personal growth, and for my ideas to take shape. That means having someone like Tanya to help me get back to doing the real work that needs to be done, so I can quit wasting time worrying about what the critics might think (both internally and externally).

It has been so SO incredibly liberating to do this kind of work when you have the right cast and crew in place. I’ve never felt so supported, and so ready to take the next step.

Do you have your cast and crew? Your team? Your tribe?

For goodness sake, please don’t try to go at it alone in your business.

Gather your mentors. (We’re often too close to our own gifts to really recognize them.)
Don’t try to figure it all out on your own. (Lots of others have been where you are— leverage others experience.)
Seek out a mastermind. (You will learn so much about yourself, and running a business)
Get a coach. (Know what kind of approach you need, and ensure that you find the coach that really works for you)
Make your list. (the vulnerable list; those whose opinions actually matter)
And if you need to, hire someone that you really need in your business.

These are just some of the people you can bring onto your team to help create your circle of support, accountability, and creativity. Maybe it’s the employee you’ve always dreamed of. Maybe it’s a business partner who perfectly embodies those qualities that might not be your strength. Maybe it’s a new mastermind, friendship, partner or what have you. Whoever those people are for you, acknowledge what you need, and who that “team” is for you so that you can get back to being the best version of yourself. And it’s ok if it doesn’t happen overnight; just keep an open mind and a vulnerable heart, and you’ll start attracting the right people.

“…the most dangerous thing you can assume is that people have reached their success on their own.”
– Brene Brown.

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  1. I absolutely LOVE this. I completely agree that in order to succeed, we NEED to gather people around us who will support us and whom we will support in return. I have a business BFF, an accountability partner, a mastermind group, and a mentor/business coach. All of them are so essential in not only helping me succeed, but in keeping me grounded and happy. All entrepreneurs and freelancers need to read this.

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  2. wow. This is totally resonating with me right now!! It was really nice to go down that list and realize I do have a (small but growing) community of support. Next on the list? Get a coach.

    thanks for sharing!!

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  3. Love this Marie… my business grew so much when I started building my support team out… I’d love to get involved in a small mastermind group but no idea where to start looking for that. Ideas?

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  4. This was a little wake up call for me this morning Marie. I’m making my to-do list for the day and there are about 6 things on there that could be outsourced. I also need to lean on my closest more. Thank you for this. A beautiful read on a Sunday morning in Oz xo

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  5. I made this into a checklist in my Evernote and filled in as best I can. Shows who I need to spend more time with and where I need to meet new people.

    This is a topic that follows naturally to what I call “Adult Onset Awkwardness”, the sudden realisation that many of us are actually quite shy in adulthood, having been surrounded by peers and close friends for the 20-odd years of our education.

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  6. Totally agree. I was always so stubbornly independent to ever build the kind of supportive relationships that I now realise I need. And so it feels very awkward to try to cultivate those kinds of relationships ‘later’ in life, so I’ve managed to start it off by trying out a coach and connecting with women in similar stages of business in Facebook groups, sort of informal masterminds I guess. But I guess it’s better late than never! I’m also sorting out my business processes so that I can bring a VA on board as early as possible and release some of my routine work to make room for more of the creative stuff.

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