If you’ve ever worked in a corporate job, you might be familiar with the term “high achiever” or “high potential”. The term is typically used to describe employees who excel, drive huge organizational results relative to their roles and raise the performance bar for their colleagues. A 2010 survey found that a quarter of high achieving employees are dissatisfied and feel stuck, which can end up negatively impacting both companies and employees. Today, we’re sharing the story behind one entrepreneur’s approach to solving this problem.
Belma McCaffrey is the CEO and Founder of Work Bigger, a career coaching platform for dissatisfied high-achievers who want to find their purpose. Through coaching and community, Work Bigger helps individuals connect to their mission, up level their leadership skills and improve their emotional and mental health.
Her work has been featured in Forbes, Fortune, Thrive, and other media platforms. Belma is also an immigrant, a mom, and prior to Work Bigger, she spent 10+ years working in media and strategy roles at companies like the Associated Press and Conde Nast.
We asked Belma about what she’s learned on her entrepreneurial journey, and to share some of the wisdom she’s gained through her experience.
Sometimes I look back on my entrepreneurial journey, and I can't believe I'm here. Having my own business is something I started dreaming about more than a decade ago. I spent 10+ years working in corporate before founding Work Bigger, and during that time, I was always yearning to do my own thing. I remember wanting to start a food truck with my family because we're Albanian, and my mom makes amazing food. I also started making jewelry and entertained the idea of starting a clothing line.
I eventually ended up going to business school and that's where I discovered the coaching space. I started a business similar to Work Bigger called BOULD with two of my MBA friends, and I was so excited. I thought, “This is it!” But that wasn't it.
We shut down the company 1.5 years in because we had different visions and missions, and I was burning out trying to build a company while working full-time in corporate. I was also a new mom. My son was about 9 months old and I didn't have nights and weekends to work on a business.
A couple of months after shutting down BOULD, I launched Work Bigger as a blog. I just couldn't stop: I knew being an entrepreneur was my path, but I wanted to do it in a more sustainable healthy way.
So I started blogging on the side while working full-time, and eventually I negotiated a part-time role at my company. I'd work there for three days a week and work on Work Bigger for two days a week.
Now, Work Bigger is so much more than a blog. We have a group coaching membership, I work with clients 1:1, and we're launching a new program called the Mindset Intensive. We've also worked with some incredible organizations - from companies like Burberry and Oath to the Financial Times. To say I want to pinch myself for the growth and the transitions is an understatement.
Invest in your mindset sooner, and stop getting distracted by the failures. I wish I'd believed in myself a little more.
But then again, working through my own internal struggles is why I'm so passionate about mindset work. This is one of the biggest ways we support our clients and members.
I think it makes the journey so much more fulfilling.
Start by focusing on product market fit - creating your product or service, finding your ideal audience and selling them that product/service. This is what will drive revenue which will make your entrepreneurial path sustainable.
Don't get distracted by your logo or business cards. Focus on your customers, what they need and how to build relationships.
Everyday spend five minutes checking in with yourself. Ask yourself - what went well today and what do I want to do better tomorrow?
If daily is too much, do this exercise weekly. Write down your wins and what you're grateful for. Acknowledging your success creates more success.
This sounds simple but so many people don't do this! Because like me - several years ago - people get distracted by their failures. Use those failures to grow and learn and carve out your strategy moving forward.
I have a group of founders who I connect with daily. We call ourselves the OGs 😂, and they're my mentors, advisors and best friends. We share everything from personal struggles to business roadblocks. We all met through another founder community.
I really believe in community and building relationships with others who have similar goals. It makes the entrepreneurial journey so much more fun, and this is especially important because close family and friends won't always understand what you're trying to do.
The Dove “Real Beauty” campaign stands out to me. I remember when they started featuring women who are plus-sized in their ads. I thought that was powerful. To me a strong marketing campaign reflects a company's values and what they stand for. Dove’s not afraid to be a little polarizing.
Similarly, I always remind my clients and members to get clear on their values, and to use their values to connect more deeply and improve their impact. You can try my values exercise for yourself by downloading it here.
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