What keeps you from getting to the top? — Atelier Pan

What keeps you from getting to the top?

By Simon Droog — a Dutch self-taught brand and graphic designer


What do conscious entrepreneurs find most challenging?

These questions got me thinking. I can of course list struggles and challenges of my own —as I am a conscious entrepreneur myself. But I find it a lot more difficult to list the challenges of others. So after spending a lot of time thinking about your struggles, I remembered something I once heard at a business training I attended:

"When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me."

That’s when I decided I should stop making assumptions about the challenges you face as a conscious entrepreneur and just go out and ask you about it. You're the one who knows best, as it's about you after all!

I do want to add that there's inherently nothing wrong with making assumptions. At first! After that you should definitely try to find a way to confirm your assumptions. Otherwise you're climbing your mountain on basic instinct —without a map to guide you.


Do you know what they are struggling with in their business? In their relationships? Maybe they worry about money. Or about their health or their happiness. They might be having trouble managing their time. You don't know that until you ask them.

Atelier Pan | Motivators

—Image adapted from: Liam Veitch, Freelancelift

In short, ask them questions that gives you answers about these areas and you'll get to know what challenges they face in their daily lives —what keep them up at night.

Experiment a little bit with different ways of phrasing your questions, to check what triggers the best response.​ You might get canned answers at first or they'll just tell you what they think you want to hear. Which wouldn't surprise me, as this happens a lot. Just experiment. That's what I'm doing.


So I started making a list of entrepreneurs I’d like to ask about their challenges —some at big corporations, some at local businesses; all making an impact in the area of sustainability. This can be e.g. environmental sustainability or social sustainability. You should set your own criteria for this and make your own list of people you'd like to ask. 

After that I continued with listing some questions I wanted to ask my clients and prospects. This is what I came up with so far:

  1. So tell me, what was your greatest resource in the early stages?
  2. What was the greatest barrier when starting your company?
  3. What kind of people or organizations helped you on your journey? How?
  4. What about branding? How do you communicate what you do to the world? What about your visual identity? And imagery or writing?
  5. At what point did you feel good (confident, motivated)?
  6. At what point did you feel low (isolated, powerless)?
  7. What surprised you most about starting a company?
  8. If there were a sustainability genie in a bottle, what three wishes would you have?
  9. Tell us a story: what was the issue you were facing and how did you overcome it?
  10. How can Atelier Pan best support you and other entrepreneurs in launching and growing conscious global businesses?

Who would you want to talk to? And what questions would you ask them?

Think about it, write it down and...


To get off my ass and give all this a go, I contacted a few people on my list about what I'm doing with my research project Challenges of the conscious entrepreneur. I asked if they would be interested in participating and if I could interview them.

So far ten people were willing to participate and I've already interviewed one of them (at the time of writing this article). Thanks for being the first who was willing to participate, Karin!

*Karin from BewustWijzer.com. You should definitely look her up as she's doing great things for children in the area of education and sustainability.

If you'd like to contribute to my research as well, just click the button a little further below.

But first let me mention what's in it for you:


Good question!

  1. You'll get a chance to share what you do in your business and talk about how you have an impact. Reflecting on why you do what you do, how you do it and what you do, usually gives you new insights right there on the spot.
  2. You’ll get a free ticket to an upcoming Brand Boost Live workshop (value € 197). You'll discover how to make a connection with your clients, how to position your business to stand out from the crowd and how to communicate your professional brand clearly.
  3. You’ll get monthly updates on my progress. I’ll share my findings with you. You’ll be kept in the loop of the whole process.

Also... if you know someone who might be interested in contributing to my research, just share this article with him/her. I'd be eternally grateful.

Thanks for willing to participate and help me out! Now click the button below to contribute:

*it will open a new window with some questions for you to answer

Now go and start climbing that mountain yourself:

What question would you like to ask your clients and prospects?

Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

With pleasure,


Atelier Pan | Brand Design for Conscious Entrepreneurs
Become more credible, attract your ideal client and take your business to the next level.

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