Kevin’s StoryKevin has been dubbed “the marketing clarity doctor.” He owns a business growth agency known as All Approach, and its mission is to help entrepreneurs and business owners realize their full potential. Kevin and Camela worked together in 2018. In the past two years, his career has skyrocketed. Many of his global team members are in the largest buying demographic and offer a fresh perspective on digital marketing. In 2019, Kevin had some major life events challenge his mindset, which led to him becoming a successful entrepreneur. When they first met, Kevin didn’t exude much confidence. He led with what he didn’t know and was eager to learn. But the caliber of work he did was a stark contrast with this mentality. He picked up on trends and often had creative solutions to problems. Looking back on past interactions versus the entrepreneur Camela knows today, she had to ask what caused that lack of confidence and what changed. “It goes back to my college years. I wanted to major in marketing, but my GPA was too low. That was my first experience with imposter syndrome. My primary focus was building my brand as a music producer. That’s all I cared about. My priority wasn’t education. Because I wasn’t accepted into the marketing program, I became a communications major. “When I tried to get a job after graduation, no one would hire me for a marketing role. I became a security guard since I couldn’t land a marketing role. My self-esteem took another dive. When you work as a security guard, no one respects your authority. You’re essentially a joke. I’d never seen myself as a security guard. “Eventually, a side door opened. I applied for a contract at Qumulo and got it. This somewhat boosted my self-esteem. Yet, in my mind, I was still a security guard. I had zero confidence.” While Kevin loved his work at Qumulo, it wasn’t enough to make a massive change in mindset. “My contract with Qumulo expired, and I got another job at Microsoft. I did pretty well. Nevertheless, my contract with them ran up, and in August 2019, I found myself in between jobs. In my mind, I was still a security guard. I’d developed more skills, but I was still operating on the same frequency. The real transformation occurred when I decided to play basketball. I thought getting outside my comfort zone and being around basketball players would help. Funny enough, it did, but not in the way I’d figured. “Something happened about three minutes into the game. My heart stopped while I was on the court. “I was unconscious for three days. The very first thing I thought once I woke up was that I’d been living a life where others saw my potential, but I didn’t. Deep inside, I thought I was great at a very high level. However, I wasn’t willing to say it out loud. I was living as a shadow version of what I could be. “That was my light bulb moment. I said, ‘Enough is enough!’ “It got to the point where I realized that if I started my own business, the worst thing that could happen was I’d make zero money and take another corporate job. So I decided to go after greatness. I went back to Microsoft for a couple of months but had already worked out my exit plan.” When Camela asked Kevin what made him choose business growth, he said, “Business growth and business consulting was what I did internally once I realized I wasn’t living up to my own potential. My business is simply a manifestation of what I’ve done with my inner demons. I needed to help others do the same.”
Mindset Is Everything A LotKevin’s success in combating his inner dialogue illustrates that mindset is a huge part of success. We’re often our own worst narrators, and an outside perspective is vital. Finding a good mentor, coach, or therapist is very beneficial. Kevin agrees. “Therapy is more important than going to the gym. It’s about exercising your mind.” A bit of distance goes a long way in improving one’s perspective about an issue. Taking a bird’s eye view of your situation gives a fuller picture. While introspection and personal growth are amazing, we felt compelled to share how loaded the term “imposter syndrome” is (which we didn’t realize before researching this article). In the interest of expanding perspectives, we thought we’d share what we found. There is a wide range of statistics floating around the internet around imposter syndrome, suggesting that anywhere from 9% to 82% experience the phenomenon. Part of the variability comes from “imposter syndrome’s” broad definition: Feelings of being a fraud or not competent. In other words, a lack of confidence. Which is a state most (all?) of us have experienced at least once in our lives. When applying the label “imposter syndrome” to research subjects, historical studies did not consider a diverse range of perspectives or people. The historical narrative claimed women are more prone to imposter syndrome, but many studies have since found that while women are more likely to self-report imposter syndrome, men are actually more prone to experiencing stress when faced with the possibility of negative feedback. Gender is not a factor, but whether or not you are a high achiever influences stress associated with negative feedback. Research also suggests people are more likely to experience self-doubt if they’re in a marginalized group and don’t feel accepted. Mindset definitely influences happiness, but we aren’t discounting the impact of external factors. As Jeff Kew pointed out in our last episode, employees must feel safe (physically and emotionally) and supported to reach their goals. People shouldn’t be “fixed” if they don’t feel confident and introspection is a must if one of your employees confesses they feel inadequate. We are amazed at Kevin’s story and transformation and don’t want to detract from the power of self-actualization. It’s also important to support others in their career growth. Recognize talent, speak up when someone should be praised for the work they’ve done, remember that confidence is not competence, and think twice before telling someone they have imposter syndrome. And also—when it comes to starting your own consulting agency or becoming a freelancer, don’t let a lack of confidence hold you back. It’s normal not to know what kind of business license you should get, how to do your taxes, and invoice customers (more on that in a bit). When we asked Kevin what he sees entrepreneurs struggling with, he said, “It’s always a self-esteem thing.”
Before You Start a Consulting Business…Thanks to the pandemic, it feels like a scary time to think about starting your own business. Kevin offered his perspective. “It’s not a bad time. Being a solopreneur is a struggle because doing anything alone seems more daunting.” Delegating can be challenging, but many experts can step in and compensate for inexperience. “We encourage our clients to write out their daily routine and differentiate what is and is not a revenue-generating task. We want a list of activities that move the needle. We advise them to stick to what generates revenue and either put the other tasks on the back-burner or outsource.” Kevin pointed out that lead generation is something that can’t be put on the back-burner. “Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs don’t think about lead generation. Consistently attracting customers is the equivalent of having oxygen flow to your brain. It’s something that’s often neglected, but you need customers to run a business.” Business coaches and mentors can help you identify your weak points and develop a plan to overcome them. “Business coaches are there to make you stick to a commitment. It means more when someone else tells you an answer than when you go off on your own and have an epiphany. Saying things out loud also makes you feel more accountable.”
For more of Kevin’s story and his advice for people thinking about starting their own business, listen to the full Revenue Marketing Report episode at the top of the article or anywhere you podcast.