Decisions Made – Roads Not Taken – Small Business Success

Have you ever noticed that the prevailing ideas of “How To” come in waves. If you are a follower


Roads Not Taken – Small Business Success

of your industry on social media, you can see the wave coming like a huge hump in the middle of the ocean, gathering size as it nears the shore. You notice this by the increase of sponsored posts about programs and courses and methods. You see your peer group “liking” and “following” certain people and systems. It’s the “how to” of building your coaching business to six figures, or the “how to” of automating your marketing or the “how to” of generating more leads or prospects. It’s golden goose of small business success.

The wave swells and peaks and hits the shore. Everyone is riding it. But like any wave, it eventually dissipates on the sand as people stare out towards the horizon watching for the next one. Riding the wave of “how to”  like thousands of lemmings, it turns out, is not what truly brings small business success.

A few years back I was enthralled by one of those waves. I joined the party and was taken up by the dream of “use your signature system to create a seven figure coaching business”.  “Sure”, I thought, “Why not?” . The wave surrounded me. It was everywhere I looked. It appeared that every “successful” coach was riding this one. The person I hired had her system dialed in. She coached her followers to create their own, using her simple steps.  It made logical sense!

Here’s the funny part. I had the craziest time remembering the steps of my very own signature system - the one that I’d developed using her method. Literally, I had to look at my outline every time I implemented my system with clients. It was not intuitive. It was not natural. It was grating up against my integrity in terms of what steps, methods and more were authentic for me. And even more “funny” was that it was a struggle to get clients. I’d been doing fairly well prior to the implementation of this seven figure method. But now my business was floundering. What the….???

One weekend I attended a workshop and met my hired mentor in person for the first time. All weekend long I struggled to engage in the presentation and the energy. A voice was whispering to me. “This is not it” is basically what it was saying. The event was not all that it was advertised to be. Speakers were missing. Depth was missing. I’d paid good money to sponsor it and have a booth and even that aspect was not quite what I’d been led to believe it would be. I’m so glad. It was the shift moment. I knew then that I had been lured by ease and riches to travel a path that was not my own.

I went home and changed my business platform, methods and offerings. Within metaphorical moments my work emanated a new energy. Opportunities literally kept knocking on my door. Clients appeared out of the ether. “Duh” was what I was now telling myself.  “Duh – you were not being authentic – you were not honoring your unique perspective and strengths – you were not shining your gifts out into the world so your ideal audience could see them – Duh!”

Once I kicked myself a few times, I laughed and laughed. I made the mistake of being lured by the wave – the shiny object – the methodology that was someone else’s authentic path, not my own. Even now, I have so many clients coming to me after “failing” with that other way of marketing and running their coaching business.  They are life coaches, writing coaches, organizational coaches, sales coaches. They have not yet experiences small business success.  They say things like “it never quite fit me – but I thought it was the only way to succeed.” They have been struggling to market their message and create a joyful and financially sustainable business by following someone else’s path. Just like me, they were lured by the wave.

Luckily, there is not just one way to thrive in a coaching or consulting oriented business. Luckily, you can create a business structure that mirrors those formats and methods that give you joy – that highlight your unique rhythm and expertise. There are many, many ways to “scale” a small business for success, even a coaching/consultant business, that don’t necessarily rely on “signature systems” and running one client after another through the identical steps offered to them by video or webinar. If that type of presentation rocks your world then Go For It. But if it doesn’t, then know that you can still be very successful!!

Today the only work I do with my clients is that which I know through experience and intuition, is the right work for them. The only structure and methods I utilize are those that resonate deeply with my own core values and give me joy. Clients come. Money flows.  Those who work with me to bring joy and financial stability into their own businesses are finding the same. Business comes. Money flows.   Now they walk their own path and ride freely on the right wave. They are now experiencing small business success and they glow with the pride of accomplishment and impact.  In my humble opinion, this is the way small entrepreneurial business should develop and grow. This is the truth of small business success.



Deborah Tutnauer

Entrepreneur Business Success Coach at Deborah Tutnauer, LLC
Inspiring change in people for over 25 years, Deborah Tutnauer, MEd, MSWdigs deep to help authentic entrepreneurs move away from the stories that no longer serve them while clarifying and solidifying those that really do! Deborah helps frustrated entrepreneurs get exquisitely clear about meaning, purpose and expertise, then facilitates the creation of a financially sustainable and joyfully structured framework in which business and business people thrive.

Coaching both privately and in groups, Deborah is also a speaker, author, event leader and consultant. Creator of the Foundation and Framework Intensive, Question Master and Leader of the Entrepreneur Business Success Club, Deborah has been called an “Architect of Magical Business and Soul Structure”by her clients because she has a powerful ability to perform alchemy, changing passions and dreams into money and time by design.

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  1. says


    I absolutely loved this post and couldn’t agree with you more. I too went through the situation where I soaked up the info from a coach only to realize that specific one was not working for me. Although the difference for me was I struggled more with how she taught it and the tools provided to me versus how you shared it wasn’t natural for you.

    Authenticity is so important and I also have learned that it can change within us in time. In 2009, I was rocking it and going strong doing my own authentic way of teaching that worked for me and my customers. Then one day I woke up and didn’t feel right. I soon learned I was chronically ill and would need to learn to live my life different. That day my heart sank. My motivation went down the drain. I cried really really hard but that is usually a good thing. It gets all my hormones back on track and then I get back up and fight like heck. I changed my “authentic” way of running my business and have tweeked it so I can still function and be connected to my audience. The really cool things is two years back I decided to sit myself down and take a look at how to start back at square one without throwing my business away. I went back to the begin and got it all back but in baby steps and at my pace. I am so thankful for that because I love everything I am doing.

    Thanks for sharing this and reminding us how important this topic is within our businesses and our personal lives too. : )

    Have a great rest of the week.

    Irish Carter recently posted…Save Energy with These DIY Home ProjectsMy Profile

    • says

      Welcome to my blog Irish and thank you for sharing a bit about your story.

      In life as in business we must continually be re-evaluating our strategy and processes. I see you are a Mom as am I. As I negotiate the teen years, I often find myself laughing at how many of my well worn parenting habits no longer resonate in our present developmental stage! I learn, I read and I shift to follow my child’s wonderful growth and challenges. In my business life, it is similar. We grow and change. We are challenged. The world around us shifts. To be successful we turn inward and listen.

      Glad to meet you Irish.
      Deborah Tutnauer recently posted…Local Crested Butte Successful Entrepreneur Highlighted in Newspaper – Deborah TutnauerMy Profile

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