I welcome milestones simply because they offer perspective. In preparation for this blog for my five-year business anniversary, I re-read some of my past posts as I achieved hallmarks in my business. It's funny the lessons I continue to learn - and how much of this is really just a maze. Each year, it's the hope of coming out better, smarter, richer. Maybe. For me, it's been a lesson of survival and I firmly believe that those who succeed in business (whatever that means) are the ones who are hungry enough for it.
I've worked with dozens of businesses over the years who did it, despite all odds. And, unfortunately, dozens more who did not.
I once worked with a customer starting a health and wellness business. She said she only wanted to work from 10 am to 2 pm, so if I emailed her, that's when she would respond. I worked with another customer who owned a supply store that was struggling. Within weeks of realizing she had no business profit from the previous year, she decided to hire someone in high school to run the store a few days of the week.
While I adore both of these women, personally, neither of their decisions made sense to me.
I've consulted with countless businesses over the years that want to replicate some formula. They've read books like The 4-Hour Workweek or listened to millionaire-making gurus promising a way of life by following their footsteps. Some of my customers actually believe that's how a business should run from the start. And, while there are exceptions to the rule, most businesses don't start that way. At best, find that they end up this way.
Let me get off my soapbox for a moment because this post is not meant to belittle people for wanting to live the American dream. Rather, I want to emphasize that, for the majority of us, a business is work. That means logging in long hours, shifting gears as customers fluctuate, employing creative ways to generate revenue as the economy changes, and remaining competitive as newer, shinier businesses attempt to do what we do, but better.
I didn't set out to acquire massive financial gain or even a lifestyle that allowed me to work one day a week. In fact, there are years I simply tried to maintain status quo.
That doesn't mean I don't have a dream. I wouldn't continue to work as I have if I didn't anticipate a longer-range goal. But, I'm also not starry-eyed about it. I've achieved what many would consider success over the past five years - even with overhauling my professional and personal life at different junctions - and for that, I'm grateful. But, it didn't come without struggle. And, I know that challenges will also be present. I'm willing to devote the time and energy to work through them.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
I love owning this business, even when it's challenging - or sometimes drowning. My only goal was to be my own boss. Fortunately, I achieved this within months of starting out - and I'm determined to never again have to work as an employee.
If I'm lucky, I'll continue to run this business for another five years. But, as my good friend John says, "we create our own luck."