Why Getting High is Good for Business
The other day I was sifting through my emails and I came across a great little gem from one of my favorite virtual communities, Girlboss. I’ve been a huge fan of Sophia Amoruso for years, way before Netflix decided to make a half-ass series out of her rise to the top. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Amoruso’s story, here’s a super brief overview:
Basically, Sophia started selling vintage clothes she found at local thrift shops online. Obsessively focused on her work, which included buying the clothes, photographing the clothes, and then packing and shipping the clothes, she didn’t even realize that she was making tons of money from it - she just knew she was getting by. Having discovered a million plus dollars in her bank account, Sophia realized she was on to something with her brand, the now super well-known Nasty Gal. Named the fastest growing retailer in 2012 by INC Magazine, Nasty Gal and its founder did more than just surprise the industry - they totally transformed it, making room for new indie types of brands and small niche clothing retailers online.
For me, the story of Amoruso’s rise to the top was an eye-opener. Even though Netflix couldn’t manage to find the magic in it, I had.
Sophia Amoruso isn’t your typical multi-millionaire CEO. She’s gritty, real and she has seen her fair share of shit. For a girl like me growing up in the seemingly no-man’s land of Albuquerque, I found hope as I turned the pages of Amoruso’s autobiography.
Maybe, if I stay focused long enough on my work, I’ll be able to see that million dollars in my bank account too.
Happy to have found a successful entrepreneur I can really relate to, I’m always on the lookout for advice from the girlboss herself. In my mind, Sophia is someone who has “made it”. Someone who has literally started from the bottom and clawed her way to the top. In my mind, she sits on a red pleather pedestal, observing the rest of us as we cut our way through the business jungle.
Maybe it’s this image I hold of her that made it a bit surprising to read her note in her recent #girlboss email:
"I’ve learned that to really perform, you have to do your homework. Showing up and being reactive to what your business demands is all I’ve really done in my past. This will get you only so far, and believe me, it scales like shit. Stepping back to work on your business instead of in your business, establishing strategies and operating plans to take you to the next level, and getting out of inbox hell will allow you to manifest something that works, and does the work for you. Or at least it seems like it so far–stay tuned for updates.”
Wait a minute, I thought, you mean that she’s still struggling with this too!? Hallelujah, I’m not alone.
It turns out that literally everyone who starts their own business and who has the intention to watch it grow has to deal with the reality of pulling yourself away from the day-to-day work, and climbing up that intimidating hill.
More than eighteen months into this business of mine and I’m still struggling to get high enough to see things clearly.
It’s so tempting to stay in the trenches. Yes, it’s ugly and smelly down here, but the work is clear. There are no puzzles to solve, no paperwork to sign, no ideas that will take you three months to bring to life only to realize it was the wrong approach.
The trenches are comfortable.
But, like Sophia says, there’s no hope in growing a business if you can’t create systems, if you can’t “get the hell out of your inbox”. You as an individual can only do so much. Yes, you can get stronger and learn to handle more. Yes, you can trade sleep and well-being for more money and more success. But it’s all just temporary. At some point, you will break. At some point, you will drop everything you have in your arms and say you can’t do it any longer. I know firsthand because this is exactly what happened when I chose to sell my other businesses - I broke and I needed someone else to come pick up the pieces.
If you really want your business to succeed and scale, you have to build real systems for it - ones that don’t require you to do absolutely everything.
And, the only way you can orchestrate the construction of these systems is to get really high… up that proverbial hill.
Yep, it will be a little scary to leave the comfort of your trench. And, yep, you’re not going to know what to do right away. But it’s here on this hill that real entrepreneurs are made. So, quit rolling doobies and get your ass hiking! Your business needs you out of the trenches and somewhere with a better view.