I had the opportunity to speak with the founder of InnovAid, Diane Luzny. She is a woman of many interests, a love for nature and creative problem solving. In our conversation, Diane explores her journey into entrepreneurship, lessons she’s learned along the way, and why community matters. Much of the work to succeed is mental, and very actionable. Through Diane's story we see how self-reflection, evaluation and determination is a requirement to achieving your next highlight.
Don't Treat Your Business Like a Hobby
There are many successful businesses that started as a side-hustle. Business Insider points out that one of those successful businesses was the Khan Academy. Sal Khan was working after his day job tutoring family members online when high demand and scheduling pushed him to start posting his tutoring videos on YouTube, where the Khan Academy was created. Many entrepreneurs may feel safety in experimenting and growing a business on the side before walking away from a steady pay check. Working other gigs can provide the funds you need to make your side-hustle work. Maybe we can agree there is no harm done here. Others, may insist putting your back against the wall and going all in. Whichever stance you take here, Diane Luzny, founder of Innovaid, cautions to watch how you treat your business. For her, an important transition came about for Innovaid when she realized she had been treating her company as a hobby. Your approach and strategy may not be flushed out in the beginning, however you have to transition at some point from it being an interest or passion project, to making your approach serious and strategic. When you take your business serious, you can begin to take yourself serious and see relevant changes in your day to day efforts.
Lessons from Failures
Rag Tag was a business Diane created making custom clothes for children. It was there she first dabbled into entrepreneurship. Her children were young and it made sense for the time. As she routinely took trips to the library with her kids and grew more and more fond of the library she decided to hold a fundraiser for the library by organizing a Home Based Business Fair. She learned a lot about herself and business through this experience. That's the irony about failures, they are experiences that we get to observe and assign meaning and purpose to. As she organized and tended to all the businesses there for the fair that were set-up she realized she had not set-up her own table. Lesson one, in order to best serve others you have to take care of yourself in the process. She hurriedly through some fabric around with a few signs and was painfully mistaken as a fabric store. Diane had to learn to say no to other things to "get your ducks in a row". When she handed over the project to a group of volunteers for the library a few years later, it was viewed as too much work for a group of four. Home Based Business organization was created out of this whole experience, but the second lesson Diane learned,
I've got great ideas it was wonderful but that maybe I shouldn’t be doing it all alone, and within that, maybe I need to give myself more time for my building, as opposed to just keep giving it away and giving myself the crumbs
Your journey for success does not have to be experienced on your own. Success not kept in secret, but rather shared and experienced with others can be more enjoyable and meaningful.
Power of Community & Collaboration
There are other like-minded people with the same interests to succeed and walk in positivity that want to help you grow and reach your full potential. There is tremendous value in collaboration and a healthy community. Diane Luzny found value meeting people at courses for self-development and shares her experiences. She was inspired to move out of her comfort zone and do things differently from hearing what others were doing. In addition, being part of a group of people all moving towards their goals is great, but there is greater value talking beyond just the “inspirational, go-get ‘em” hype, "its the hardships and struggles that we are sharing with one another" that makes it more meaningful.
Diane’s ability to work with physical therapists highlights the value of collaboration. Through her blog and created products she has been able to provide valuable services to physical therapists. In turn, they are able to use her blog to provide families with resources. Diane is able to share ideas and tips on how to use her products for people with special needs. This collaboration is allowing Innovaid to have a much broader reach that Diane ever could on her own working singularly with one family at a time.
Recognize Yourself as the Expert
With her collaboration came a personal challenge to Diane many of us face, seeing ourselves as the expert. Seeing yourself as the expert may come look differently and be masked as impostor syndrome. Whatever form it takes on for you, it is challenge built around self doubt and self worth. Going from novice with a vision to becoming the expert (or confident in the value you provide) is no easy road to travel. For some, it involves schooling through university or learning trades and specific skills, while for others it is experimenting relentlessly. Whoever you are, it will involve immersing yourself in a topic, niche or specific skill until it is practically part of your DNA. Diane has a postgraduate degree of Educational Psychology, is the mother of a child she now believes had sensory issues, has a brother with special needs, and has been running her business Innovaid since 2002, yet she admits to struggling with seeing herself as the expert and having that confidence.
I didn’t put myself as an expert, and because I felt I needed to have some expertise in the area, I kept waiting for someone to give me this expertise that I can sell to people who have children with special needs that I do know what I’m doing, and that part carried on for a long, long, long time ....really slowed my growth a lot
Seeing yourself as the expert means knowing that your limiting beliefs are part of what blocks this identity. If your limiting belief is that you don’t have the credentials or degree to be telling other professionals about this, then you need to have an empowering belief that says otherwise. If we thought of the limiting belief as a sickness, then the empowering belief will serve as the anecdote you will need to be well. Auditing your self-narrative and taking inventory of the negative thoughts you are experiencing is critical to moving into an identity where you see yourself as the expert. In Diane’s case, working with physical therapists that she felt specialized in working with people that have special needs minimized the value of what she had to offer. Yet, they are contacting her and printing her blogs to provide families as resources and purchasing products she created and designed to meet needs that were not being addressed. Until she observed her negative thoughts and paid attention to the narrative she was telling herself, she could not move into the space where she identified as the expert. She realized that she narrowly focused on the brain and body connection for many years, and that in fact she was the expert. “You cannot wait for someone else’s confirmation,” says Diane.
You can find Diane on any of the links below and make sure to check out the blog on her website.
LinkedIn - DianeLuzny
Facebook - Innovaidca