I had an epiphany the other day when I was thinking about conducting interviews for my blog. Many people advise to interview “the stars,” but what I found with the “stars” and “gurus” is a) they’re busy; b) their advice may be over people’s heads.
So instead of helping, such interviews have a reverse effect. People might be struggling to start out their business, and here’s a person who’s already completed that race, and their advice sometimes sounds out of reach.
Interviewing beginning entrepreneurs, on the other hand, gives people a sense of hope and direction and motivates them to keep going.
Today’s interview is like this. I chatted with one of my subscribers – Silvia Perrone – about the power to break through the walls and overcome creative blocks. Enjoy! ~ Elena.
Could you please tell us about your online business and what is your mission?
I teach Italian to beginners, those women and girls who dream about learning Italian but think they cannot make it, those women and girls who have already started learning the language but find it difficult to understand how it really works.
I believe that understanding is the key to many adult students problems. When you don’t understand something, you are more inclined to develop negative feelings towards it, and to drop the course or learning experience you have started with the best intentions.
My tagline says: learn Italian at your own pace. The resources I am developing, are all going in the direction of letting you, the student, get behind the wheel.
I only recommend the best type of car for you and provide you with all the features and programs to make your trip nice and smooth.
But the destination is your personal goal only, and how you get there is also up to you, I can only sit on the passenger seat beside you for a while, if you need me to.
How long did it take you to be where you are now and what were your main “distractions/shiny objects?”
It took me 9 months to get where I am now, like carrying a baby! Now I am producing the work that was already in my head but somehow could not find its way out. I get easily distracted by nature, I love to start new projects and sometimes it doesn’t matter if I quit what I’m working on (even for ever!).
Technically I could call myself a multipotentialite, but I’m afraid this is just polishing a bad habit that I have!
As a newbie to the online teaching world, I have many distractions and I guess I’ll have to come to terms with my practice of wanting to try every new shiny piece of technology that comes out, or reading every blog post of a new teacher I have found, or signing up for countless online courses.
I am exploring all the possibilities there are for creating resources that establish a connection with my students and really help them, so I am attracted to content that resonates with me and my goals.
The problem is not being able to use software or taking photography classes, you need to understand your direction and prioritize. This stage for me has been the longest and most difficult.
Now I have much more clarity about where I want to go and how I plan to get there. I have put together every single piece of information and advice that I collected from day 1, skimmed off what I don’t need (another intense, time consuming activity for me), and figured out the right order of what was left.
It is an ongoing process, I think it cannot stop as our businesses evolve constantly.
What happens when you hit the wall in your #online #business? Read this for #inspiration.Click To Tweet
What helped you to get “unstuck” as an entrepreneur and get over your insecurities? Is it software, tools, books, coaching, training?
The mere fact of having my own business took many months to sink through. I have always wanted to do something on my own, without a boss and without the “this is not my thing” feeling that many employees have. I have decided, consciously, to follow an impulse.
It may sound counterintuitive, but that’s how most of my projects see the light.
I thought it was going to be easy because I like to teach and everybody is on the internet so after registering as a business and setting up a website, in a few months time I should have had students and money. I was totally wrong and I didn’t know it. And despite the fact that I was eager to start, I was feeling stuck, unable to make a single step forward.
All my insecurities, fears, anxiety, self-sabotage, vulnerability emerged all at once and made me stumble and fall.
There is an Italian song that says: lower than this, you can only start digging (the translation is mine, the original goes: più giù di così, c’è solo da scavare – the song is Salirò by Daniele Silvestri – look how many accented words he was able to put in a single line!).
And I was ready, shovel in my hand. But I wanted to dig deeper for the wrong reasons, or in the wrong way. Lack of confidence is my weak spot, I always think I’m the worst at doing anything.
So digging for me meant starting a tunnel to escape from my project, taking the other direction. I didn’t know exactly where to start so I thought that putting an end could be the solution.
Luckily, I have abandoned this idea pretty soon, because even if I am scared, this is my project and what I want to do in my life – and I won’t let it hit the “another unfinished project” drawer.
So I re-read the content I had created during Veronika Palovska’s course some months before, and I did it everyday until some ideas started to surface.
Then, with perfect timing, Elena offered her courses at a discounted price and I bought two that immediately resonated with me: A roadmap to a successful online business, and Get strategy: build your sales funnel (available inside Smart Teacher’s Library).
Roadmap and strategy were exactly the words that I needed to hear. I started redesigning my site, which I had postponed for too long, and I wrote a first draft of my personal roadmap – I even sent it to Elena and Veronika for accountability!
I am perfectly fine with changing my mind, so for me it wasn’t a big deal to draw a line on some of my roadmap goals and start from scratch. When I began to move forward again,
I also signed up for more courses from other business teacher and also tech teachers because, well, I am a perfectionist and I want to be able to use every tool and software that can help me and my students.
When I opened the library you signed up for the Smart Plus version. I know a lot of people who want to teach online but wonder if that’s a worthwhile investment, what would you say to them?
I think the format is perfect if you like to go back and forth through the course materials on your own but also need some guidance.
Working on something different every week, even if it’s with the help of your teacher can seem overwhelming, especially if you hear certain terms for the first time or you don’t even have a website yet, but I found this method works very well to pull out your ideas and frame them as real, tangible content that you can sell.
The community feeling is also very important. As solo-preneurs we can feel lonely sometimes, and even misunderstood. When people ask me what I do and I say I teach Italian, they want to know in which school and when I say that I have my own website and teach online the usual answer is: oh.
So being among friends who are in the same boat is… homey!
Starting out is probably the most challenging stage, at least it was for me, and I wouldn’t deny myself the possibility of finding my way and growing with the help of resources and community. Having someone on my side has been my life-line.
It has given me enough confidence to work more and smarter, and to be more productive – now that I know my strengths better I also know what I want to create for my students and I am ready to do it – I’m actually working on some new guides that will be my first small product.
Did you hit the wall in your #online #business? Read this story to help you get unstuck. #biztipsClick To Tweet
How do you keep your creativity alive? What helps get up every time you feel like you’ve hit the wall?
I have a very imaginative and creative mind (my multiple hobbies and passions should be evidence of that!), but using it for my job, oh-ehm-hm-well, you get it. Why does it have to be so difficult to put theory into practice, ideas into products?
This is my wall, I know it very well because I hit it almost daily! In these 9 months of carrying my baby site I have – thankfully, developed my method of coping with the creative-block. It’s called “support-squad” and they come to my rescue every time I hit a roadblock.
Remember I said I suffer from lack of self-confidence? Well, I have found some people, fellow online entrepreneurs, who understand what I’m going through and are ready to show up with suggestions, examples, tutorials and all sorts of resources that can help me devise, design and deliver a concrete (digital) product.
This is what works best for me, having a group of critics who question my inner-critic and put me back to work. So my suggestion for all those who are starting out is to be part of a community where you are not afraid to show your work or just your ideas and where you can contribute to everyone’s success (regardless of what it means for each of us).
Do you find yourself stuck?
Here’re some helpful resources:
- Join our Smart Teacher’s Library to find resources to help you run an online business, not just teach lessons.
- Do you “dig yourself in the ground” with your perfectionism and your desire to “keep your ducks in a row”? I highly recommend Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection (it’s only 120 pages). It will change your life and move you to action (I recommend it to all of my coaching clients and I give it to friends who can’t seem to get over their fears).
- In the comments, please let me know what gets you stuck whenever you are working on your online business?
Meet Silvia Perrone:
I am an Italian language expert and I have developed an exclusive method of teaching beginner level students and professionals how to speak the Italian language confidently for travel, work and even for family reasons.
You may not believe that you can learn easily, but I know you can. I’m here to help you speaking real Italian fluently and with confidence. Learning a language is empowering, it’s a journey you need to experience.
Never miss Silvia’s new blog post! Check it out here.