How to figure out what’s at the very heart of your business

We create the things we most need.

What do you need the most?

I have a coaching practice devoted to helping smart women get focused enough to design their life and business on their own terms.

Um, yes. Hand raised. I have ADHD up to my eyeballs AND I have been in business for myself for 15 years. AND I’ve made money at it many, but not all, of those years. AND I do it on my own damn terms, following my own damn rules, in my own damn living room.

Let’s digress:

I looked really cute on Friday.

Just ask Jordan, my 21-year-old. She should know. She pointed out each piece of my outfit, down to my cutie grey shoes that I DIYed with bright pink paint on the heels. She called me the Original Hipster.

First of all, I’m pretty sure real Original Hipsters don’t congratulate themselves super publicly about it on their website.

Second of all, I commandeered the term and have been referring to myself in third person as The O.H. all weekend.

Like this:

“The O.H. is ready for some coffee.”


“David? The O.H. needs some T.P.” (toilet paper) You know, always keeping it classy at La Casa de Yostram Crazypants.

If there is one thing I do extremely well, it’s take a joke or offhand comment and run it into. the. ground.

Rule #1 about writing: Every piece should support the whole.

Every little story, character, description, anecdote, piece of research needs to have a reason for being there. The O.H. story is there because it’s true. I’ve been a bit of a hipster all along. Hipsters are basically smart weirdos with a particular sense of style. They often have these attributes:

  • unathletic
  • a little bit angry or depressed
  • brainy and into obscure-ish books and icons
  • socially conscious vocally, if not in actual practice

I’ve always felt like a bit of a freak. I tried to make that feeling go away by trying to fit in with normal types. But I couldn’t pull that off very well so I joined kindred freaky spirits and figured out how to fit in there.

Moral of the story: I need, and have always needed, a way to be in the world without having to fit in with the straight-laced crowd. I need a way to be me and still make it work.

The O.H. needs a j.o.b.

And now I’ve got one that is so perfectly suited to who I am. I get to play with people I really like and help them find their own weird way in the world. I have created that which I have always needed.

What do you need?

What problem have you always tried to solve for yourself? Me: how to get along in the world even though I don’t want to do things the way other people do.

What do you think stands in the way of you being able to have that? Me: inability to focus.

The answer to both of those questions is at the heart of the business you need to create.

Let’s play together in the comments. What are your answers to those questions?


23 Responses to How to figure out what’s at the very heart of your business

  1. Mindy Crary | Money Coach October 1, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    Sarah, you always have the greatest ways to take all of the extraneous crap that distracts people from understanding what it is they need to so and help them FOCUS (like you said) on the specifics that will help their business. Always great tactics and practical applications too. It so funny too, because it works – I always felt like a down-to-earth, wacky, artsy type who was self-conscious in the traditional financial world, so I created a business where OTHER people who feel out of sync with traditional finance (and those expectations) have a place to hang. Great post!

    • admin October 2, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

      Thanks Mindy! So many of us feel out of sync with traditional finance. Really glad you’ve made a space for us

  2. Patti Capparelli October 2, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    I’ve been trying to solve the problem of how to be the best mom to my 3 kids with their completely unique personalities for 21 years now. I looked externally for answers. Parenting books and the hot experts in the field. When I realized it was an inside job of self-healing, I could finally settle into motherhood. This is the big momma-heart of my business. Thanks, Sarah

    • admin October 3, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

      MMM. Good stuff Patti.

  3. Pam Pearson October 2, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    I really had to think about that. And didn’t like what popped into my head! I was always trying to figure out a way to be average, not amazing! Duh! Mentoring others, being a leader, being creative are things I do well and easy. But I didn’t want to stand out so I tried to be not amazing. Thanks for helping me realize I need to just be what I am! It’s amazing πŸ™‚

    • admin October 3, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

      The things we’re really good at don’t feel that amazing. They feel kind of hum-drum and obvious. It’s so easy to overlook them.

  4. Cathy Sykora October 2, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    What problem have you always tried to solve for yourself?
    How to blend everything I want to be involved in.

    What do you think stands in the way of you being able to have that?
    Creativity and a lightbulb moment.

    • admin October 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

      Oh, I totally get this question. I look for the thread that runs underneath all of it. What do you do the best in each thing you’re interested in? What, exactly, appeals to you about it? Those are a couple of questions to help you get to the meat of it. xo

  5. Yvette | Business Strategist October 3, 2012 at 12:27 am #

    Lately, I’ve been trying to solve the challenge of working out at home with my 19 month old running around. He insists on lifting the weights too!.
    What stands in my way – do they sell baby weights?

    Fantastic post Sarah!

    • admin October 3, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

      Oh, yeah. I remember trying to do yoga when my daughter was little. I had never exercised before. Sometimes I spent 2 or 3 hours getting through a 1 hour yoga video. I’d stop and play or entertain her or nurse her or whatever. It was kind of crazy, now that I think about it.

  6. Bianca | Video For Shy People October 3, 2012 at 2:51 am #

    Oooh, this post really made me think! Like that πŸ˜‰

    Q: What problem have you always tried to solve for yourself?
    Me: To be truly free to create (projects, stories, art, videos, etc.)

    Q: What do you think stands in the way of you being able to have that?
    Me: Time management (not having enough time) and just fully surrendering and trusting myself in the process so I can let it all go

    Thank you for providing the questions that made me really think deeper into my work, Sarah! It really helped. A lot.

    • admin October 3, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

      You are so welcome. I bet that your solutions for dealing with time show up in the work that you do for others too.

  7. Megan Flatt October 3, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

    I LOVE this…especially today

    #1: I have tried to create a career and a life that allows me to be actively present in my children’s day to day life, while still allowing me to have an individual identity and use my brain.

    #2: Finding balance (time and money) between the two things that bring me the most joy, my family and my career

    argh….need to write this on a post-it over my desk…huge ah ha!

    • admin October 3, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

      Post-it’s RULE for clarity–as long as the sticky stays sticky and it doesn’t live under your dining room table.

  8. Jenn Burton/ Have Him Your October 3, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

    Wow Sarah great post… I love that you’ve been doing it your way for 15 years… and the Original Hipster… love it.
    I’ve always believed in something bigger, better and even more delicious… I set out to prove a long time ago that the world is magical. I’ve had a lot of people mainly women think I was nuts.

    Impatience stands in my way… Lots to think about in the post..thank you!

    • admin October 3, 2012 at 11:43 pm #

      Oh, I love that. I bet you talk to your ladies about impatience a lot. Even if it isn’t overtly a part of your business, I bet it shows up.

  9. anastasia valentine October 3, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    Great post Sarah! Loving your own damn rules, your own way, on your own terms. I just wish I decided to THAT years ago!!! Another awesome post!!! Many thanks.


    • admin October 3, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

      Oh, don’t I know it. I’ve been working towards it forevah though. I was much less graceful about it years ago.

  10. Another fun and great post!
    What problem have you always tried to solve for yourself? Me: how can I distill down all the gifts I really want to share with the world?
    What do you think stands in the way of you being able to have that? Me: inability to decide on one…or even a couple of things….I want to do it ALL!

    Thanks again luv….good stuff!

  11. Joanna Weston October 4, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    I love those questions!

    What problem have you always tried to solve for yourself? Me: How to get the hell away from depression and start living a joyful life, instead of just existing

    What do you think stands in the way of you being able to have that? Me: In the past it was not being able to see *how* things could be different. I believed that it was possible, but couldn’t see it. Then the problem became believing in that vision and learning how to take concrete steps towards it, once I had it (or at least part of it — the more steps I took the more of the vision I could see). And on some days, the first one decides to make a guest re-appearance. πŸ˜‰

  12. Allison Evans October 5, 2012 at 12:15 am #


    This is hilarious. I laughed out loud at your definition of hipster. I had to explain myself to the people I was near. πŸ™‚

    What gets in the way of my being able to do what I want to do: Desire for approval from Authority!

    Allison x

  13. Colleen October 5, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    Wow Sarah – I feel like I know you!!!! I, too, am ADHD (of the higest order), a scanner (bored very quickly and 20 balls in the air all the time), like to do things in my own way (usually unconventionally – can you say Maverick)) and speak my mind (a lot)!

    I doscoverd you through Brooke Castillo’s Coaching School site. While I am not 100% sure of what my path is, I am considering coaching. It’s great to know that someone with similar traits has taken this path and made it a huge success!

  14. An October 20, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    Oh, Sarah, it feels as if we are flip sides of the same coin! I’ve always been very good at fitting in – and my challenge has always been just doing my thing instead of living out other people’s expectations. What I was after, was other people’s approval and validation (like me, please!). (And what I got was me not liking myself anymore! Ha!)

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