Lessons of a Business Owner: Year 2
Sitting at the front desk at my studio, I should be planning the class I have to teach in an hour. Instead, I'm looking at the sunset over Pike's Peak, listening to a busy 4:15 class get their workout on, and trying to soak in all the little changes that have occurred within these walls throughout the past 365 days. I wrote a post just like this last year, after my first year of business. On Saturday, we celebrated year two of Pure Barre Colorado Springs with another glow-in-the-dark class and margaritas. Some of the faces I saw in the studio that night have only been taking classes for the last month or so, while others have been by my side since day one. I wish I could sum up in a word how it feels to see something you've worked so hard for come together perfectly, even if it's just for an evening. Year two has been full of milestones and tough truths, but I hope that, in sharing these, other business owners can find something to relate to, and I can remember that entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint.
So, with a little bit of sarcasm and a whole lot of nostalgia, here are my top lessons from year two:
you'll never be "out of the woods"
Unless you sell your business and disconnect completely, you'll never truly be out of the woods. In fact, I've grown to detest this sentiment. As a young entrepreneur, I had this vision that year two would mean stability and relaxation (okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but you feel me). I was excited to be done with the dreaded first year and ready for a bit more smooth sailing. In some ways, I've had pieces of the year two I imagined. I've had some of my busiest and most profitable months. I've paid myself and not worried about covering basic costs. However, I've taken the low months in year two much harder than year one. Every time sales or attendance have been down, every time I've reported a loss, and every time my always-high expectations were not met, I've found myself saying, "But this is year two, this isn't supposed to happen!" I'm not sure who put that idea in my head, but this business is always changing. Colorado Springs is transient, the competition in the market has grown, and retail trends are never consistent. There's always a new challenge at hand, and waiting to be out of the woods is a mindset that breeds complacency, which is never the goal.
For the last year plus, my husband and I have lived 45 minutes - an hour away from my studio. In many ways, that was a great move that made my staff more independent and pushed me to think more like a business owner and less like a day-to-day employee. However, spending 2 hours of every day in the car, changing my schedule to accommodate Colorado's blizzards, and not being able to invest in the community the way I wanted to in order to grow my studio has s.u.c.k.e.d. Thus, we're moving 5 minutes away from my studio in 2 weeks, and I've never been more excited. Don't commute, just don't do it to yourself, I promise.
every person is a game changer
One of the best and worst things about Colorado Springs is that it's a military driven city. That means that, every year, tons of my clients and teachers move away from the city and new clients and teachers move in. I cannot tell you how much each person who has come in and out of this studio, even if it's just for a season, has changed my perspective and brought new memories and a fresh energy into these walls. You never know when the next game-changing client is going to walk through your doors, so treat every person like they have the ability to revolutionize your business, because they do.
there's always a different measuring stick
I love goal setting, and I love creating big, exciting marketing endeavors like Colorado Springs Fitness Week and other community-oriented plans. Sometimes, I get lost in the details of whether or not I'm accomplishing everything I need to accomplish and growing at the rate I need to be growing. But here's the thing, there's always a different measuring stick you could be using. There are ways to measure your business and feel great about it, and there are other scales that will make you feel like a loser. There's always someone else to compare yourself to, and running your business (or your life) from a standard of comparison will never work. You have to measure your business's growth against your business, not the market, not the numbers, not the competition. It's a marathon, not a sprint.
I've already won
When I started this studio, my number 1 goal was to create a community where everyone was welcome, encouraging, and loving. Whether I have 2 people or 20 people in my classes, I truly believe this goal has been met. It will always need tending to, and it will never stop being my priority, but when I see old clients welcome new ones, friendships form amongst my staff, and the whole Pure Barre family come together in times of tragedy, nothing makes me more proud. In the end, this is all that matters.
This business is not perfect, and I am far from perfect as a business owner and employer. There will always be more to learn, but I finally feel comfortable in my own skin, in this city, in this career, and in the challenge ahead of me. I want to see this place succeed for the long haul because I truly believe that it can, and I'm thankful for all the small wins along the way. So, cheers to 2 years, and bring on all the new leggings, 5:00 am wake up calls, tough conversations, and milestones to come.