Creating your Business Identity

“In the social jungle of human existence, there is no feeling of being alive without a sense of identity.” ~ Erik Erikson

In different areas life, we all have different identities. For example:


Child, Friend, Sibling, Partner, Parent, Student…

Athlete, Traveller, Writer, Musician…

Therapist, Counsellor, Wellness Professional…


And now we add to the list – Business Owner!


All of these identities involved you learning new skills so you could master the role.

However, with most identities, it’s easy to forget how confusing and unsettling it was in the very beginning…because now you know what you’re doing! You are a complex person juggling many different identities that require different skills. In order help us understand this process better, let’s look at the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition (1980). It can help you conceptualize the journey we are entering into so you know the road to come.

Dryfus’ Model of Skills Aquisition

This model has five different stages that outline how we learn the new skills that ultimately shape the identities we create for ourselves.

They are as follows:

Novice ? Competent ? Proficient ? Expert ? Master



In the novice stage of skill development, you are just getting started. YOU WANT RULES!! Because everything is new, it feels much safer to have a lot of structure. You just want the answer, and often don’t have the ability to use discretion in your judgement yet. You don’t really understand why you are doing what you are doing, other than you were told this is how things are supposed to be done. You are doing without understanding.


Here things are starting to feel a bit more familiar. Although you are starting to get skilled in specific tasks, you don’t really understand how all the moving pieces fit together. This means everything is given the same amount of attention, which can be overwhelming. You haven’t figured out how to prioritize yet, so all aspects of your work are treated separately with equal importance, without considering the big picture.


Here you start to be able to juggle multiple activities and ideas at the same time. And more importantly, you now understand why you are doing what you are doing. IT FINALLY ALL MAKES SENSE!!! The pieces have all come together and you see how it all fits. You understand how your actions can impact the outcome. You are able to purposefully plan future events and create routines that support your goals. You start to use maxims to guide your actions and beliefs, instead of sticking to black & white rigid rules.


You are now able to see the bigger picture, not only how all the moving parts impact each other in your world, but how they can impact other’s lives as well. You have experience to fall back on so instead of just using maxims, you start to rely on your intuition to guide your decision making process. You are able to holistically assess yourself and circumstances. You can prioritize what is important and what isn’t, and you can recognize when something is outside of a normal pattern and react accordingly. You are adaptable and flexible.


In mastery you rely primarily on your intuition and are rarely conscious of your own decision making process. Instead your processing happens at lighting speed based on a combination of lived experience and skill that guides your choices. YOU KNOW YOUR STUFF INSIDE AND OUT! You step beyond maxims and instead approach and analyze each situation individually. You have a vision of what could be possible and instead of solely monitoring your own process, your energy is focused on creating a deep, intuitive understanding of people, situations, and circumstances.

So why am I sharing this with you?

Just like you can be in different stages of change in different aspects of your life, you can also be in different stages of skill development with the different identities in your life. Most of you in this program will find yourselves in the Novice or Competent stages of skill development as a Business Owner. It can be an ego blow when you are Proficient, an Expert or even a Master in some parts of life, and then start a new endeavour and find yourself starting over at the beginning. Things don’t flow like they do in other areas. It can be frustrating not fully understanding how things work when you don’t even need to think about it in other areas of your life.

I want to normalize this process for you.

  • It’s ok to not “get it” right away.
  • It’s ok if you don’t see how all the parts fit together right now.
  • Just keep moving forward.
  • I promise by the end of this program you are going to be able to see the big picture and all the pieces will fall into place.
  • Trust the process.
  • It is going to tell you what to do next until you are able to make those decisions for yourself.

Action Assignment:

In times like this is can be helpful to remember your strengths so you know where you’re heading. Create a list of the identities that you feel most represent who you are in the worksheets and label where you see yourself on this scale. Remember starting as a Novice or finding yourself struggling with your competencies in one area, doesn’t take away from your expertise and mastery in other areas.