Are You as a Woman Really Ready to Start Your Own Business?

Rockin’ the solo-preneur lifestyle with my cat Jack in my home office in Milwaukee, WI, early 2017

I was 30 years old when I walked out of the highest-paying job I ever hoped to hold.  

In the preceding months, I had done everything I could to ensure my success. I hired a business coach. Got a business plan together. And even started getting beta clients for my new business’s first service package, so I could pitch it with testimonials. 

Of course, I was still scared out of my wits. But I was ready, right? I mean, as ready as I was going to be…

Sometimes I think it’s a blessing that God doesn’t tell us what’s going to happen in advance. Over the next three years, I learned how ready I really wasn’t to have my own business. And the business I did build was full of stress and struggle. Oh, I worked hard. So, so hard. But that’s just it: I did it all in my own strength. And I didn’t realize that while I had put the external foundation of the business into place, I hadn’t put the internal foundation there. 

Owning a business that served entrepreneurs and freelancing for many corporate clients forced me to come face-to-face with what was really going on inside me. 

Now, I tell women entrepreneurs: the external details of the business are important—what you are going to sell, who you will serve, what you will charge, etc. But if you are not truly strong enough inside (yet) to handle what you are stepping into … you will fail. 

Bottom line: you can’t do this business thing in your own strength. And God will use this situation to teach you that, like nothing else. 

So how can you ensure that you are truly ready internally to take this entrepreneurship journey with God?

You’re ready when … 

1) You’ve faced your fear of money.

Owning a business will show you, like nothing else, how terrified you are of money: both of not having enough, and of having “too much.” God had to break me of my “money fears” before I could stop putting limits on myself with my earning potential. I secretly believed that people who had a lot of money hurt other people. (NOTE: This presupposition is rampant in the artistic, social good and educational communities, which many women entrepreneurs identify with.) To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to get absolutely clear on the sufficiency of God to provide for you, and be willing to break through every block you have around money that will hold you back. 

2) You’ve faced your fear of self-promotion.

Oh sure, you want to have a business. But let’s talk about promoting your services, sharing your expertise and allowing your real, gifted self to be SEEN in the real and online worlds. Many women entrepreneurs I know describe themselves as “shy,” “not good in the spotlight,” and “wishing someone else would market the business.” I’m here to tell you, Sister. It does not work that way. God wants you to stand on your talents in HIM. He wants you to stand firm and tall and proclaim who He has made you to be, so the people who need you can find you. Very often this means confronting issues of self-worth and self-doubt that plague all of us. (It did for me!) If you are not ready to face these things, you are not ready for this business. 

3) You’ve faced your fear of success. 

Scraping by is okay. Having enough and a little extra is probably fine, too. But wild, over-the-top, runaway success that silences all the haters and causes people to stare in wonder? Um, yeah, that’s getting a little uncomfortable now, isn’t it? As Christians, we are so often taught that God is not interested in our success or happiness—yet I believe He is deeply interested in both. Yes, both of these may have to bow to His will for us to experience sorrow and loss for a season (believe me, I have been there!). But I believe far more often we fail to experience His best because we simply open to the fact that it IS possible. And (see Point #2) we’re not sure we deserve it. This entrepreneurial journey will challenge all of these thoughts. If you are not ready to accept success, don’t bother shooting for it. 

Owning a business as a woman—the kind of business that truly does good for others while honorably supporting you—is a noble goal. It IS possible to create these income streams. It IS possible to get out of the corporate rat race and experience the freedom and joy of owning your time and serving people you truly appreciate and want to help. 

But even these beautiful goals come at a price.

You will not be able to carry your sense of poverty, sense of self-loathing or self-doubt into this process. And if you try … well, I can say from my own experience that God has ways of knocking it all out of you. In the kindest (but most serious) way possible. 

Are you really ready to start your business? Well, you’ll never fully be ready. You might just have to take the leap. In fact, you probably will. But if you spend time really working on these three areas, you will be better positioned for success. 

I don’t regret walking out that door at age 30. I don’t miss the salary. bonus or cushy travel allowance I had—because in exchange, I was a slave in golden handcuffs. But I also, today, recognize how much I had not prepared myself internally for this new journey. 

Hard work will only get you so far. It can’t make up for the deficits you secretly believe you have inside. 

“You are not my Bargain Bin Daughter” and Other Radical Things God Said to Me about Money and Shopping

IMG_4432From the time I was born, I’ve been a bargain shopper.

Yes, like literally, I think my mom and grandma took me out bargain-hunting in a stroller.

They raised me “good and frugal.” When it came to clothes shopping, deals were our best friend. If it wasn’t on sale, we didn’t buy it. Living large for us meant buying something on sale without an additional coupon. Money was often tight in our house, and I remember Mom counting cash carefully to make sure everything was covered.

I carried those behaviors with me into my clothes shopping as an adult—even after I got married and my material resources radically increased. Queen of the Coupon-Clipping Discount After-Market Rack? Yo girl, that was me. I may not have always loved what was in my closet, and sometimes it was five or ten years out of fashion, but darn it all, I was proud of what it cost. (Or didn’t.)

I genuinely thought cheapness was next to godliness. That is, until God decided to rewrite my whole money story.

It all started in January 2016, when God randomly-not randomly crash-landed inside my safe little cheapskate box and happily blow it up, along with every other mental box I had. (We could talk about all the boxes. But hey, one story at a time, right?)

Don’t get me wrong. I still like my deals … but I’ve since discovered that my God is not the God of the bargain bin. He’s the God of endless wealth, prosperity and abundant life in Jesus Christ. As I’ve since learned, when frugality becomes an obsession in my life, instead of a helpful aspect of stewardship, then I’m not reflecting Who my Father really is.

Can I say that again, because I can never say it enough?

My God is not the God of the bargain bin. And I am not His bargain bin daughter.

Let that sink in for a minute. If you have an allergic reaction to that statement, you’re not alone. I did too the first time I heard Him say it.

I’ll never forget the day in January 2016 when God dealt with me about my stupid crazy fear-based adversarial relationship with money.

It had been a horrible quarter in my business, and I was fed up with struggling for cash. A friend sent me a link to a free online mini-course by a financial coach, which I clicked on. Somehow, God used this poorly-produced online video about money—something I would never normally have watched—to nail the heart of my beliefs about prosperity.

On the video, a financial coach was talking about the reasons why people remain poor, or behave like they are poor, even when they truly do have means, or at least have opportunities to change their financial situation. She stated that the real reason for poverty (or perceived poverty) is complex, of course. But it starts with our beliefs about ourselves, what we’re worth, what we are “good enough” to have, and how that translates into our earning and spending habits. (Or even the kinds of financial opportunities we are brave enough to go after.)

She listed out several core beliefs people have about money that keep them from stepping into true financial freedom. The first two reasons didn’t resonate with me. But the third hit me between the eyes:

“You secretly believe that people who have money or get rich just use their money to hurt other people, and you don’t want to be someone who hurts people.

Wow. She had described my life philosophy in a nutshell.

As a Christian and an artist, I associated with people who were (at best) very committed to “not being about the money.” At worst, they constantly critiqued or criticized wealthy people—yet constantly spoke about their own lack of resources.

I myself had turned down multiple high-paying jobs because I was afraid they would own my life, and that having a really comfortable life was somehow at odds with my spiritual growth. If I got money, I instantly gave every penny away. At that very moment, I was running a business that deliberately served clients who were running struggling businesses themselves … and could not afford to pay.

Was it really, truly possible that my attitudes about money were at the root of my struggles?

Deep in my spirit, I knew immediately that it was true.

I had been waiting so long for God to send me a windfall of cash out of Heaven so I could stop shopping bargains, but how could He give it to me when I immersed myself in the belief that it wasn’t okay to receive such a gift at all?

My financial life, and specifically my shopping choices, did not change overnight, but this one “ah ha” moment did set off a chain reaction of events that propelled me into almost three years of making friends with money. I made a ton of money in the process, lost a ton more and then learned how to trust God for every single dollar through an intense period of “Nothing.” The whole time, I knew all of this was preparation to step into the abundance He had destined for me before the foundation of the world.

You see, I had to finally realize that much of my early training in frugality had nothing to do with God and everything to do with anxiety. Many of us grow up with people in our lives all around us who are struggling with limited resources themselves, and a deep sense of unworthiness. They have not truly stepped into their identity in Christ (even if they are believers), or into the flow of God’s financial favor. Often, they haven’t even been taught that He desires to bless us with more abundance and prosperity than we can even imagine.

Instead, even in church, most of us have been taught (subconsciously) that money is dirty and people who have it are probably heartless and shallow, deep down.

If this isn’t said directly, it’s implied in a thousand small ways.

That may sound like an exaggeration, but really listen money you hear in your circle of family and friends. Is the conversation full of their joy, gratefulness to God and excitement to invest that money in blessing others, and also in enjoying the fullness of life God intends for them personally? Or is it full of worry, stress, arguments about every how every penny is spent, complaints about people who “have it easy,” and where the next sale is going to be?

I don’t say this to look down on anyone or criticize—not at all. But observe natural behaviors, and you’ll start to notice that we’re all trapped in some scary financial boxes that God never intended. This should cause to want to jail-break our families into mental and emotional freedom, not judge them!

For me personally, recognizing and untangling all of these generational chains helped me step into a new level of financial freedom—even when I had no money at all. I learned to let go of worry about how much money I did or didn’t have because God ALWAYS provided. Often, He provided far more (or far nicer) than I technically “needed,” when I trusted him.

Since moving to Dubai, I’ve entered a new chapter of life where God has sent many financial resources rushing back to me again. I’ve been able to step into this abundance because of what He taught me, starting with that video almost three years ago.

But sometimes, when you up-level up out of one mindset, you find yourself confronted with a host of new ones. “New levels, new devils,” as they say. Though I stepped into a new level of financial favor after coming to Dubai, the rubber really “hit the road” when it came time to not shop for clothes.

For a long time, I’ve been aware of the principle that you dress for where you want to go, not where you are. Clothes aren’t just a covering. They’re symbols of who we aspire to be and believe we can become. Clothes can be an act of faith or a revelation of our financial fears. It’s all about where our hearts are at.

Will we stand out in Christ-like confidence or hide in shame over who He has made us to be?

Our shopping choices reveal our answer to this and many more questions—and I knew it was time to change my answers.

I had been wrestling with this line of thinking for days, because as much as I wanted to step into my destiny and reflect more of who I am becoming through my clothing choices, I also have other things I believe God wants me to do with the financial resources He has entrusted to me. I was feeling the old stress about money again. I was praying for sales and deals, scanning the Dubai headlines for where the next big sale was going to be, and when the annual shopping festival is going to start.

While I was busy dithering, the Holy Spirit pressure to “get going” with my shopping began to escalate. I started bargaining with God about “maybe next month,” or “some other time,” or “when You send me an epic sale, THEN I’ll obey what I believe You’re saying about reflecting my destiny in my clothing choices.”

Finally, in answer, I heard a simple, urgent answer bubble up from Holy Spirit:

“Have you forgotten? You are not my bargain-bin daughter.”

Stop obsessing about getting the best sales and just go shopping, trusting Me to send you what you need.”

In that one thought, God re-shattered the old default programming of frugality that had popped up again and was running me hard.

The truth is: I didn’t need anything more than what He had already given me to go shopping. My Father is the God of the Universe. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. If He chooses to extend my current abundance by using a sale to bless me with more, so be it. But He already had provided enough for me to shop. If I was honest, I knew the budget I had set in my head to spend wasn’t actually His instruction to me. It was a mental box (limit) I had created on what I believed was possible.

“What if I asked you to walk into the most expensive mall in Dubai and buy what you wanted right off the rack … no sale, deal and no coupons …. would be okay?”

I found myself struggling for an answer.

“What’s gonna happen when it’s time for you to dress in Gucci and Prada?” Holy Spirit pressed. “You’re not going to wear a discount dress to stand before the kings of the earth and testify of Me. If you fight me on buying the 100 AED dress today, you’ll fight Me when I want to give you the 1000 AED dress, and the 10000 AED dress after that.”

Eventually, after enough of this, my defenses broke. And I felt so convicted.

I thought about how many times I had secretly judged well-dressed women on the street corner who who obviously had spent time and money on shopping for the outfit they were wearing.

I had judged these women because of my own insecurity and my beliefs about money and wealth. It had never once occurred to me some of those women might be sweet, dear sisters of God who were giving liberally of their means to help others—and also walking out God’s call to be a visible demonstration of His abundance in their own lives.

Was it possible, that in my penny-pinching, deal-shopping, bargain-hunting default attitude, I was missing out on the beauty, richness and joy of the decadent shopping experience God wanted me to have?

Please understand, I’m not suggesting you blow your rent money on new clothes or put a fancy dress on your credit card. (For the record, I shop with cash and cash only.) But what if … what if … God asked you to walk into a store you’ve always dreamed of shopping in, and buy something beautiful you really want … at full price?

(Newsflash: When He begins reinventing your relationship with money, you’ll probably have to do that, at some point. Just saying.)

Do you really deep-down believe you’re worth that brand-new dress with the full-price tag? Because that’s the real question here.

At the end of the day, most of our super-spiritual “frugality” isn’t truly driven by a holy desire to steward our money wisely. It’s driven by the limits of our self-worth, ingrained by generations of people before us who believed that money is scarce, wealthy is hard to get, and it’s not meant for people “like us.”

Most of us come from a heritage of women secretly don’t believe they’re worth more than the bargain rack. They never expected more in their lives or took steps to claim it spiritually for themselves. Which is why they … and we … still restrict ourselves to the bargain rack.

I truly believe this mindset not only saddens but also offends God, because it goes entirely against who He said we are. He paid the ultimate price for us. Why should we act like we’re worth nothing? Spending money wisely is absolutely commendable. But shopping from a secret mindset of poverty, lack and “not-enough-ness” is about as anti-God as it gets.

Do you see the difference?

I’d submit that about 99 times out of every 100, what we think is “wise shopping” is actually fueled by a secret belief that resources are finite, prosperity isn’t biblical, and people who have resources to spend on things like brand-new clothes are, somehow, sinning.

Don’t believe me? Try buying something you truly want, but don’t technically “need,” and isn’t on sale. Let me know how easy it is for you to open your purse for that. If you have a bona five heart-attack in the checkout line and break out in a cold sweat just getting out your wallet … you’ll know where your heart is at. (I can say that because I’ve been there!)

You can be the change in your family lineage regarding prosperity—but you’ve got to start by opening up your concept of money to God and asking Him to blow it wide open.

In the end, I decided I am not God’s bargain-bin daughter, and I will no longer dress like less than who I am.

So I went out shopping just like God said, to the exact shopping centers where He told me to go. (Listening to Him is critical in this whole process, by the way.) And let’s just say … it wasn’t the Discount Mart.

Did I get some killer deals? By God’s grace, you bet I did. And I also buy some things I really wanted right off the rack, full price—because He said to? Yep.

I’m joyful and delighted by everything God gave me. It feels so incredibly good to walk out the door stretching myself to represent who I truly believe I am in Christ—not who my own puny mental limits think I can be. I am in love with how creative He is, and how fabulously impractical He can be.

“You want those silly platform shoes with the tassels? Buy them, Daughter.” I heard Him say. “Delight in my good gift to you, which is completely unnecessary but brings you much joy. I am so abundant, I delight to send you the unnecessary.

That was good, Holy Spirit. Let me say what You said again:

“I am so abundant, I delight to send you the unnecessary.”

Yeah, those platform heels were unnecessary. But I’m rockin’ them as I write this post. And did I mention I happened to get them for a killer 90% off … even though I was willing by faith to pay the full price?

God blessed me with a sale that did extend my material resources—but only after I changed my attitude about who I am and what I deserve.

In the end, it’s all about mindset, isn’t it? My Daddy is the God of the Universe, King of Everything. I’m His dear daughter, His beloved Princess, and He delights to shower me with good gifts.

Every dime (or dirham) I have is a gift from Him, whether I have 1 in the bank or 1 million. Abundance is my attitude, no matter what my external circumstances look like. Elevation is my destiny, no matter whether my “faith shopping” leads me to the Dubai Mall or the local Discount Mart.

If my financial and shopping choices announce where I’m heading in life, I intend to always head UPWARD, in prayerful partnernship with Holy Spirit. Who, apparently, approves of my outlandish taste in shoes …