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To say that I don’t do ‘normal’ is quite the understatement.

And… I’m guessing that you might be the same.

I remember finishing my Accounting Masters and saying to my mother “I’m not going to be a ‘normal ‘accountant”. And her looking at me like, ‘I’m not surprised’. I couldn’t articulate why yet, but I knew even back then.

I don’t do routine well, I don’t overly play it safe or care for understanding tax law. And I can’t sit still for long. I do spurts or work and then get distracted then come back to it. All the time. I choose to be paid on having a particular set of work or tasks completed, instead of time for dollar setup’s where possible (or appropriate).

So what do we do when we want to run a business but don’t want to go about it the usual way? How do we begin building out a business that ‘works’ for our natural way of being?

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It started with me realising I really like to follow unconventional business mentors.

I don’t idealise Richard Branson, although he does have many good traits but many ways of doing business I don’t exactly agree with.

I really quite like Yvon Chouinard, from Patagonia.

I think Jude Blereau is tops. And she’s made a good living doing it her own way (she’s had a few careers).

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I think Paul Jarvis, who wrote Company of One is also a very clever businessmen (if you could call him that) and is a has articulated well what I had been thinking when I left the large global corporate I used to work for.

Recently he wrote:

This “the hustle is everything” culture is simply an optional add-on to the startup world, and one that I think turns some smart folks away. The folks who don’t want to sleep at their desks, or always be on, or work 100 hours a week, or sacrifice everything in the hope that a bet pays off. I think this also has the potential to put off people who actually have lives they care about outside of work (kids, partners, friends, etc). ‘ 

* Good point to note: sometimes we have a repulsion to being a ‘successful’ business owner because we don’t want to participate in any of the points mentioned above. 

He went on to speak about how he is a bit ‘over-thinky’, a bit more cautious in how he makes decisions. He acknowledges that some of his decisions may be wrong, and that wrong could cause harm.

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As I was reading this I paused for a moment and thought…

… he’s like me and my clients, he’s one of the business people who are more considered, kind and empathetic, that being solely profit-driven isn’t in our bones, we ponder how will this decision impact me or others or the environment first. He is one of the of these business owners that don’t fit the conventional mould and are choosing something another option.

Then I realised I’ve created a whole little world around me of people like this. I have an informal business group I’m part of, our motto is ‘f*ck this shit’ because we refused to participate in things that are detrimental to ourselves and others even if it’s the norm.

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My Instagram feed is also similar, there is no hustling, no profit-at-any-cost rubbish or business coaches that are yelling into the ether like personal trainers or military sergeants. I’m more inclined to follow people like Jacqueline Novogratz or Kate Raworth

I’ve instinctively unfollowed people who pronounce that making a million dollars is going to solve the world’s problems, that ‘going without’ will solve the world problems or being anything other than myself will solve the world’s problems.

I actually think when you start out, the hardest thing in this noisy world is to run a business and still be yourself. To look away from the pretty marketing, to decipher the marketing messages of FOMO or the silver bullet that will fix everything.

I think the antidote to ‘fitting in’ is just to be yourself. So if you are a bit ‘over-thinky’ like Paul, or maybe you’re a bit ‘over-feely’ or empathetic. Maybe you can’t sit still or you get distracted easily like me. Just know that you can still run a sustainable and profitable business your own way, you don’t need to fit in.  

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