Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could take your life experiences and turn them into a business?
Sonia Thompson has done just that.
She’s combined her time in corporate America with her love for small business to create a place where small business owners can learn the mindset and techniques they need to master running their businesses successfully.
And she’s working to incorporate her personal passions, like speaking Spanish and living abroad, into her future offerings.
Sonia’s story is this month’s Hero’s Journey feature. We’re tapping the collective wisdom of our community members to bring you reports from the front lines of the content marketing world. See all the Hero’s Journey posts here.
Read on as Sonia shares her story.
How to take care of the engine that drives your business
Sonia Thompson: I’m the founder of TRY Business School, where I help business owners find the right strategy to build and grow their businesses. I also help them develop the right mindset to execute on the strategy they are adopting.
Developing the right mindset is essential when it comes to reaching your goals. If your business were a car, your mind would be the engine.
And if your business’s engine isn’t operating at its optimal levels, then the car will struggle to reach its desired destination. Not good.
If entrepreneurs don’t have good habits, frequently let impostor syndrome get the best of them, or feel like they have to be the ones doing everything in their businesses, they will struggle. It doesn’t matter how smart their strategies are.
Those mindset challenges are just a few of the many I’ve observed over the years.
My business focuses on helping entrepreneurs develop a solid plan for growing their businesses. I equip them with the tools they need to accomplish their goals.
Reaching entrepreneurs where they’re listening and reading
Sonia Thompson: I help entrepreneurs develop the right strategy and mindset to grow their businesses primarily through content on my podcast, blog, and with guest posts.
And for those who’d like more personalized guidance, I offer one-on-one coaching and consulting.
I’ve gotten very comfortable with being uncomfortable. In fact, I often intentionally put myself in uncomfortable situations because I know that’s where growth comes from.
For instance, for about half of the year, I live and run my business from Buenos Aires, where I’ve learned (and continue to learn) how to operate in a Spanish-speaking culture.
Setting up camp outside of my comfort zone has enabled me to be comfortable with delayed gratification, which is important as a business owner. And it’s broadened my horizons, deepened my capacity for empathy, and broken me from unhealthy perfectionist tendencies.
It has also provided fertile ground for creativity, which has fueled big dreams that scare the pants off of me.
But because discomfort and fear no longer paralyze me, I’ve been able to take steps toward some of those big goals, which makes them feel achievable.
Right now, my business is entirely online. In the future, I’d like to add an offline component with live events.
Big lessons for small business owners
Sonia Thompson: When I was growing up, I always wanted to run my own business. But somewhere along the way, I put that on the back burner in favor of pursuing a corporate career.
I landed a job with a large healthcare company fresh out of business school. Within the first year, I realized corporate life wasn’t for me.
Around the same time, I had several frustrating experiences as a customer of small businesses. They had fantastic products and services, but the owners struggled with the “business” part of running a business.
I thought, “If only they knew the principles I learned about in business school, and that we apply daily in my corporate job, their businesses would rock!”
Eventually, I decided bridging that knowledge gap for small business owners was the right path forward for me.
How her worst fears led to her biggest breakthrough
Sonia Thompson: A year after quitting my job to start my business, I got sick and ended up in the hospital. My recovery took months and I wasn’t able to work during that time. When the dust settled, I was left with a mountain of debt.
That experience and its aftermath was the realization of my worst fears coming true when it came to being an entrepreneur.
I went through a range of emotions and felt like a failure. I wondered why this happened to me.
Eventually, I landed in a place of thankfulness. I realized how blessed I was in spite of a few difficulties.
I was thankful that I knew that even though life may decide to hit you with a truck, it doesn’t have to be the end of you or your dreams. It’s only the end of the story if you let it be.
At the end of that emotional roller coaster, I felt powerful.
I knew that even though I couldn’t change the past, there were decisions within my control that I could make on a daily basis that would eventually put me in a better position than where I started.
I took control of my health. Changes in my diet, consistent exercise, and stress management have made a significant difference.
And even though executing and maintaining these changes are time consuming, I’ve learned that nobody wins when self-care gets put on the back burner so you can log more work hours.
Prioritizing my health made me feel empowered.
And the lessons I’ve learned throughout this journey have transformed the way I view challenges in my business and my ability to overcome them.
So now, if things don’t go quite the way I want, I recognize that I have the power to make them different.
All I have to do is identify the root cause of the issue, seek out solutions, implement the ones that are right for me, and make adjustments as I get new information.
The changes may not come instantaneously, but if I’m diligent with my plan of action, I will see positive change.
Why consistent (and strategic) content creation works
Sonia Thompson: What’s working well for me now is consistently delivering content to my audience while going after bigger opportunities to expand my reach and accelerate growth.
I recently completed a virtual summit that was a major undertaking over the course of a few months. But it produced big results in terms of email list growth and relationship-building. It also enabled me to produce and sell my first digital product.
Guest blogging has long been a part of my audience-attraction strategy. In the last few months, I’ve started targeting major publications as a way to get introduced to larger audiences.
As a result, I recently became a contributor to The Huffington Post and was featured in a Business Insider article, which has more than 40,000 views and was republished on several other websites.
Now that I’ve seen the power of how major platforms can amplify your message, I’ll continue to work through my targeted list of publications to write for or get featured in. And I’ll continue to produce my own media to further establish my authority.
The Rainmaker Digital products Sonia uses
Sonia Thompson: I’m using a custom Rainmaker Platform theme for my website.
The platform is great for hosting my podcast.
I was thrilled when I realized it had everything I needed to run my virtual summit, including landing pages, protected content for members, and affiliate software.
And I’m working behind the scenes with the learning management system to launch some online courses that will be going live soon.
I’m a big believer in professional development, so I take advantage of several Rainmaker Digital products for ongoing education — including the Certified Content Marketers program, Authority, Digital Commerce Institute, and The Showrunner podcasting course.
I’m also a regular at Rainmaker Digital’s live events. 🙂
Experimenting and expanding into a bright, new future
Sonia Thompson: In the future, I plan to create more digital courses and a book based on the content from my virtual summit. I want to experiment with different content marketing mediums, too.
My life over the past few years has benefited tremendously from following a road less traveled, so I’m excited to try out new ways to educate, inspire, and assist entrepreneurs in growing their businesses.
I’m also making plans to make my content available in other languages, beginning with Spanish.
During my time in South America, I’ve encountered many people craving business and content marketing education. The challenge is that they don’t learn in English, so there aren’t as many resources available.
I’m excited about becoming a conduit and bridging that gap for them.
I have realized that abundance lives on the other side of your comfort zone.
So, whether you are pitching yourself to write a guest post, outsourcing a task you don’t need to do yourself, or shutting down your laptop at 5:00 p.m. to go for a walk, don’t be afraid to break from the status quo.
The results may not be immediate, but in time and with consistent and focused effort, your body, mind, and business will thank you.
Find Sonia Thompson online …
Thanks to Sonia for appearing in our Hero’s Journey series.
Do you have questions for her? Ask them in the comments.
We’ll be back next month with another story to teach, inspire, and encourage you along your journey.