My favorite thing about being an entrepreneur? My business has allowed me to become the most authentic version of myself. However, it wasn’t always an easy journey to get here.
As I’ve reached a high level of success in my own business and coached hundreds of six- and seven-figure female entrepreneurs, I’ve seen one theme repeatedly: Financial success is amazing, but with business growth comes added external pressure — pressure from your team, your advisors, and even your customers.
Some have felt pressured to launch a new product, even though it wasn’t aligned with their vision for the company. Others feel like they can’t be vulnerable now that they have an audience and employees watching their every move.
When everyone has an opinion, it can be hard to hear your own voice. But as an entrepreneur, finding a way to connect with your true self is crucial for sustainable, long-term business growth.
Authenticity is the key to building trust, forming meaningful connections, and standing out from your competition. It helps you attract wildly loyal customers, become a more effective leader, and inspire your team.
In my work, I’ve also seen that entrepreneurs who prioritize authenticity are more fulfilled, more resilient, and more confident decision-makers. That’s because there’s no conflict between their inner and outer worlds — they’re in alignment, and as a result, they’re at peace with themselves.
I can’t write about authenticity without mentioning a time when I felt very far away from my true self.
I worked in banking for 17 years, juggling my roles as a single mom to two daughters, a full-time caretaker to my sick mom, and a high-level executive. Behind the scenes, I suffered from almost daily panic attacks — but my corporate job represented security, so I stayed … until I was laid off.
Like many people, getting laid off turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me, but at the moment, it was devastating. I began asking myself why I had relied on my job for security, and ultimately, I realized that true security comes from within.
Nothing in life is guaranteed, except your relationship with yourself. That’s why authenticity is so important. If you don’t know who you are, what you value, or what you want from life, you’ll constantly look for external validation — and you’ll struggle to make tough decisions when your business needs you most.
After getting laid off, I spent a short time in the start-up world. But it wasn’t until my 43rd birthday that everything changed: My sister suggested that I take my years of experience training leaders in the corporate world and give it to women. This was the lightbulb moment that led me to create my company, Gypsy Soul Coaching.
Through entrepreneurship, I’ve finally found my way back to my most authentic self. I discovered that my true passion is to help women live their purpose and create economic power as business owners — and I’m so proud that today, I get to fully live out that passion as a business coach.
The journey to authenticity
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to stay aligned with your values while growing a business. Here are a few tools and strategies I’ve used to help myself and my clients stay authentic.
1. Remember why you started
If you’re feeling a little lost on your entrepreneurial journey, reflect on the passion that fueled your ambitions in the early days. Were you overthinking every decision, or were you moving with a clear vision and purpose? Maybe your business has more stakeholders today, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave your authentic self behind.
Remember: Compromise and collaboration are natural as your business grows — disconnecting from your true self isn’t.
2. Develop self-awareness
Self-awareness can help you stay true to yourself. You can become more self-aware through journaling, meditation, and other practices. I also find that tuning into the sensations in my body tells me a lot. For example, whenever I’m faced with a decision that goes against my values or vision for the business, I’ll feel a heavy weight on my chest. That’s a pretty clear signal that I should say “no.”
3. Your money, your values
Entrepreneurship has given me the resources to align my actions and decisions with my values and purpose. Money is so powerful because it can allow you to be who you really are — as long as you don’t allow external pressures to determine how you use it.
4. Vulnerability is powerful
Vulnerability is a potent tool for authenticity. When I’m vulnerable with my story, it creates a safe space for my clients and employees to do the same. Ultimately, this allows us all to be more authentic.
5. Don’t settle for “good enough” — even at seven figures
One of the beauties of entrepreneurship is the freedom to never settle. Personally, I’ve refused to accept “good enough” — I’ll take the good, but I always continue to strive for greatness, whether that’s in my personal life, revenue, or impact. That’s what is most authentic to me.
Embracing authenticity in entrepreneurship may not always be easy, but it’s the key to long-lasting success, fulfillment, and resilience. Remember, it’s your authentic self that will set you apart and lead you to the greatness that you deserve.
Contributed to EO by Dora Rankin, a Cleveland-based business coach and founder of Gypsy Soul Coaching, who specializes in helping women achieve economic empowerment through entrepreneurship. Besides having an incredible story herself (from rehab at 17 to earning $800K+ as an entrepreneur in the past year), she’s helped dozens of women business owners access capital, leave the corporate world, and generate hundreds of thousands in business revenue.