MP chatted with Kelly Mosser, entrepreneur, business strategist, and coach for high performers. Mosser hosts a global top 2% podcast, "The Aligned Success Show," which helps entrepreneurs master the alchemy between spirit, science, and strategy to activate their highest potential and create success on their terms. She graduated from Georgetown University and lives in New York City with her husband and rescue dog.
The entrepreneurial journey is one of self-discovery. What have you learned about yourself while building your business?
There’s no better crash course in self-awareness than entrepreneurship!
Starting and scaling my business has forced me to confront my triggers: my self-sabotaging behaviors, limiting beliefs, and every last one of my fears.
Ironically (or maybe not ironically), this is precisely what I coach other entrepreneurs on.
As long as I own a business, I’ll never be done learning about myself, but I’ve learned that I have a ton of grit, am highly resilient, and struggle with patience.
I used to have a very difficult time with self-compassion, but I’ve made huge strides in that department!
The entrepreneurial journey is often lonely. Have you experienced loneliness as an entrepreneur?
I definitely experience loneliness, like many entrepreneurs I know and work with.
It can be isolating to feel like you’re solely responsible for building your vision for the world.
Very few entrepreneurs have full-time support from the get-go, and it can be so easy to get stuck in your mental prison:
Am I doing enough?
Did I make the right decision to invest here?
Why does it seem like everyone’s farther along than I am?
I see many entrepreneurs struggle to recognize and identify the loneliness they’re experiencing.
For many folks, instead of sitting down to confront the truth, “hey, I’m kind of lonely right now,” they’ll search for more projects to fill their calendars. Many business owners struggle with burnout, which from my experience, is often an attempt to avoid loneliness by overscheduling themselves with commitments and tasks that don’t drive the business forward. They’re just coping mechanisms to make us feel busy, which makes us feel like we’re doing something right.
I find a lot of comfort in the community.
It’s been game-changing for me to connect with other entrepreneurs human-to-human.
It’s essential to find people whose values align with yours and who you can talk about your challenges. Even if you have a fantastic support system at home, unless the people close to you are business owners, there’s so much they simply won’t understand.
The Psychological Warfare
Entrepreneurs generally sleep less, work more, and let their health slip. This combination, combined with loneliness, often results in insecurity, self-esteem issues, and low self-worth. Have you experienced any of these issues as an entrepreneur?
You are your boss, parent, and caretaker when you're an entrepreneur.
Often, no H.R. department reminds you to use your PTO days. Your boss won’t call you on a Friday afternoon to say, “hey, you worked overtime this week. Why don’t you head out early?”
I’ve always identified as a high performer, but it never occurred to me that the qualities that make me a productive worker are the same ones that make me prone to burnout.
One skill I’m actively working on building is patience. My lack of patience throughout my time as an entrepreneur has made me prone to comparison traps, feeling behind, and wondering if I have what it takes.
I’ve realized the more I lean into patience, the easier it is to see my journey from a higher perspective. It helps me remember that I’m building a business to last for decades.
Patience helps me remember that overnight success is too dysregulating for my nervous system. It helps me find peace with where I am at this moment.
I’m a meditation teacher, and meditation, in many ways, has saved my sanity. Bringing the principles of my meditation practice into my business has been pivotal to staying sane and grounded when there are infinite places I could be directing my energy and infinite things I could choose to stress out over.
Entrepreneurship has provided a really beautiful healing environment for me to support my mental health. I lived with undiagnosed PTSD for the first 21 years of my life, and my symptoms were so severe that working in a corporate environment was no longer healthy for me.
While it came with challenges of its own, entrepreneurship afforded me the time and freedom I really needed to nurture my nervous system back to health, and I’m forever grateful for that opportunity.
Newer entrepreneurs often equate their personal success with the success and value of their business. If their business fails, they are a failure. If their business succeeds, they are a success. Have you experienced this warped perception of reality?
I experienced this a lot in my first year, and learning how to navigate it became one of the key themes I now coach others on.
There was a time in my business when everything felt so personal. If someone unfollowed my business account on Instagram or unsubscribed from my email list, my brain made it mean that I was unlovable.
It was all very dramatic!
Something that has helped me create a healthy separation between myself and my business is embracing the Scientific Method, which we learned in 7th grade!
I encourage all of my clients and students to treat their businesses like science experiments rather than soap operas. When we treat our businesses like soap operas, every micro-failure becomes a personal failure.
When we’re trying to build a business in a constant state of self-doubt, low self-esteem, and negative thinking, what little progress we make feels like pushing a boulder up a mountain.
But when we embrace a spirit of experimentation and allow ourselves to become the chief scientist in our businesses, we can’t even be bothered by “failure,” because scientists walk into experiments without expectations or attachment.
When we experiment, we remove the emotional and mental clutter that comes with things “not working out.”
When we think of every step as a step in the right direction, even if it doesn’t produce the results we were hoping for, we become much more efficient and waste less time picking ourselves back up and taking the next step.
What are your three biggest fears as an entrepreneur, and how do you manage those fears?
1. I worry that the vision in my head won’t come to fruition.
I have big dreams and goals, and there’s always a part of me that worries about how I’ll feel about myself if it doesn’t manifest.
2. I worry about keeping up with changing times.
I kick myself for not joining TikTok earlier, for example. I know how easy it is to get set in my ways and fail to adapt. I’m always afraid I will miss the next big opportunity because I was too busy or didn’t want to focus my energy on adopting the next important platform.
3. I worry about not living up to my potential.
I know I can be my own biggest saboteur, and I worry that in ten years, I’ll look back and feel like I’m the reason I didn’t accomplish X or Y.
What are three mistakes you made early on as an entrepreneur, what did you learn from them, and how can others avoid these mistakes?
1. I took every small failure and setback as a personal failure, and I was too emotional when something didn’t turn out my way.
It’s so hard not to have a personal attachment to your work in the world. Still, it’s so important to remember that you are a multi-faceted human being who’s so much more complex and brilliant than your business will ever be able to convey.
It’s critical to stay connected to your relationships, hobbies, wellness, and sense of play and joy. Your business might not be around forever, which is hard for many entrepreneurs to swallow.
Who will you be if you have to set aside entrepreneurship someday?
Staying connected to your spirit, the part of you that accomplishments, awards, or accolades can’t measure, is a must.
2. I didn’t give myself enough time to get things right.
I wasn’t comfortable with iteration.
I would try something, and if it didn’t work perfectly right away, it would get thrown in the trash.
Now, I’m more open to making small changes and trying again because the difference between a flop and a wild success is often a very small change.
3. I compared myself FAR too much to others.
I’d look at someone running their business for five years and think, “What’s wrong with me? Why aren’t I there yet?”
It took me a few years to embrace the reality that I’m on my journey. Some things will come much more quickly to me than they do to others.
Some things will take much longer.
There’s no singular roadmap to success.
I’ve also learned to define my success on my terms because it can be easy to get caught up in revenue benchmarks others are sharing, social media follower counts, and podcast downloads. It’s exhausting to try and keep up with others.
I find so much flow and ease when I let myself focus on my micro-goals rather than being distracted by what others are doing or achieving.
What are three things you see that are often overlooked by entrepreneurs you encounter, and how can other entrepreneurs be aware of these things from the beginning?
1. Many folks get sucked into the noise in their industries very quickly and lose sight of their original “why,” as well as their authentic voice and their values.
It’s as if the moment we decide we’re throwing our hat in the ring to be an entrepreneur. We feel we must change to conform to the industry we’re now a part of.
Entrepreneurs who can stay rooted in their values are the ones that will weather the most storms. At the end of the day, all you have is your integrity.
I see many folks get enamored and seduced by “quick fix” strategies forcing them to compromise one or more of their values.
It’s just not worth it.
Do it right, even if it means you’ll build more slowly.
2. Many entrepreneurs forget about their well-being completely.
The reality is that your business does not function without you.
It might feel “cool” or essential right now to pull all-nighters, skip weekends with your family to sit in front of your computer or max yourself out at 70 hours a week, but it’s not sustainable.
Your business will never love you back, even if it does provide you significant financial security and a sense of purpose.
Many entrepreneurs feel driven by a sense of purpose and a desire to leave a legacy. Still, if you’re not taking care of yourself and the relationships that matter most, there will always be a void, and you’ll try to fill that void by working even harder- a recipe for disaster.
3. Don’t try to keep up appearances.
I’ve seen folks try to run before they can crawl just to project the illusion of success.
Be brave enough not to outpace yourself.
I’d love for every entrepreneur to internalize this idea: you are not behind.
You’ve got a long way to go, but you will get there.
Trust the process and savor the journey.
If you don’t learn to enjoy where you are now, your next huge goal won’t fulfill you.
If you can’t feel fulfilled and satisfied now, you never will because it will always be now.
What are three seemingly insurmountable obstacles you’ve faced as an entrepreneur, and how have you overcome them?
1. My inner critic sure felt like an insurmountable obstacle at one point!
There was a time in my business when I was convinced I couldn’t do anything right.
I felt like nobody wanted to work with me. I didn’t feel worthy of earning the money I wanted to make. It felt like I was at a constant dead end.
While I’m still actively managing my inner critic, I’ve grown so much in my ability to show myself compassion. I realized that anytime I’m working on a goal, I’m working on the grace it takes to be kind to myself when things don’t go my way.
That’s the ultimate lesson for an entrepreneur.
When you’re 90, it won’t matter how quickly you achieved your goals.
All that will matter is how kindly you treated yourself and others while getting to where you want to go.
2. Navigating the ever-changing world of social media feels like an insurmountable task.
I recently found some notes I took about how to please the Instagram algorithm from 2018. Nothing on that list applies anymore!
It can feel frustrating to feel like we’re aiming for a moving target when it comes to social media: the algorithm is out to get us, nobody’s seeing our content, and so on. I can speak from experience: going “viral” isn’t as great as it’s made out to be!
The truth is, there’s no replacement for consistency, dedication, and devotion to your work.
Remember that if 100 people were standing in front of you, it would seem like a lot of people, even if it doesn’t seem like much on social media.
I also remember businesses thrived for thousands of years before social media existed!
We’re not at the mercy of a few tech giants to be successful, even if it feels that way sometimes.
You can be creative and successful without even utilizing social media.
A personal affirmation I like to use is that my success is in my hands.
This reminds me that no external entity can take away my internal feelings of success and purpose unless I allow them to.
3. When I had an inkling to start a podcast, I never thought anyone would listen to it!
I assumed it would be nearly impossible to build a community from scratch. I was strategic and creative in my first few months as a podcast host, and I just relentlessly got the word out to anyone who would listen.
I’ve still got a lot of growing to do, but it’s beyond my wildest imagination that my podcast is in the top 2% of shows worldwide - across categories!
It’s not even a true crime show!
How can newer entrepreneurs develop a healthy work-life balance even when it seems like an impossible task?
Do your best to remember that your business is not life or death (unless you are a self-employed heart surgeon!)
There will always be more on your to-do list, so get comfortable with the “never done” feeling.
It’s the only way you’ll ever allow yourself to enjoy your downtime.
Rather than thinking of your business as a race, you’re desperate to win as quickly as possible, think of it as a leisurely walk in the woods with no end destination. Sometimes you’ll feel inspired to run. Sometimes you’ll feel inspired to sit and reflect. Release yourself from the notion that there’s a party you’re late for.
How would you approach your days if you knew for sure you’d end up right where you’re meant to be?
Remember that part of the reason you probably became an entrepreneur was to enjoy some semblance of freedom!
Many entrepreneurs start their businesses because they’re fed up with the 9-5 grind.
It’s so easy to let your business become as suffocating and limiting as your old corporate cubicle, but it does not have to.
Getting clear on your values and your “why” is the ultimate form of self-care that will help you get back on track when you start to overdo it.
What three key pieces of advice would have made your entrepreneurial journey easier, and why?
1. When you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, ask for help.
Find someone who’s already done it (they're out there, I promise!).
There’s no need to reinvent wheels someone else has already built. I think many entrepreneurs want to convey this “I did it all on my own” image when that’s just not the most efficient or responsible way to approach your business.
Take the easy path if you want to make the most impact and minimize friction and resistance.
That always includes getting support from people who’ve been there.
2. You don’t have to be everywhere, and you don’t have to be everything to everyone.
The advice circulating that you must be on every social media platform, at every conference, and contributing to every article is madness.
Recognize that you are a human being with physical limitations.
Choose a few core strategies, channels, and outlets to spend your time and energy building.
Let everything else go.
3. Operate in your zone of genius and leverage your gifts as often as possible.
Many entrepreneurs spend a lot of time and energy trying to get “just good enough” at things they don’t naturally excel at rather than outsourcing them so they can focus on their zones of genius.
There’s no single roadmap to success, so you might as well pave your path by leaning into your strengths.
What do you think the most significant difference is between how an entrepreneur sees their career path versus how an employee at a company sees their career path, and why?
I think employees at companies are better at self-advocating.
They see their labor as a huge asset to the company they work for. They (hopefully) don’t give excess hours without fair compensation.
They don’t make the same sacrifices an entrepreneur makes.
I think entrepreneurs have something valuable to learn from this: employees at a company can clearly distinguish themselves from their job. They have a better understanding of that boundary, whether or not their actions respect that boundary.
Entrepreneurs have very leaky boundaries and almost always struggle to understand where their business stops and where they begin.
What role has intuition played in your success as an entrepreneur, and why do you think this is the case?
Intuition is a huge part of how I run my business and what I coach others on!
As entrepreneurs, we have the ultimate privilege to choose how we spend our time and energy. If we’re not careful to listen to our inner voice and consciously choose how we work, sell, and connect with our clients and customers, we can end up totally out of alignment with our values.
I always do my best to listen to my inner wisdom. I like to think of her as the actual CEO of my business.
If what I’m creating in the world is going to be a true reflection of my purpose and values, it must come from a place much deeper than my ego.
That’s where intuition comes in.
Responses provided by Kelly Mosser, entrepreneur, business strategist, and coach for high performers.
Questions based in part on topics and comments provided by:
- Alicia Nagel, Founder at Alicia Nagel Creative
- Rob Volpe, Chief Executive Officer at Ignite 360