Lessons of a Business Owner: Year 3
I'm 10 days late in composing this post, which probably speaks volumes about my attitude shift in year 3 of my business. The first two years of owning my Pure Barre studio were punctuated by high highs and low lows, earth shattering freak-outs and tears of happiness. Year 3 has been a different animal.
In some ways, I could tell you it was my most challenging year of business. After all, I had to tear down and reconstruct a studio wall, turn over a great portion of my team, and completely change my budget. In other ways, it was the best year, full of memorable clients, record sales months, and habits that I believe will foster growth and longevity. However, one thing remains true - this is the year I fell in love with my business.
It sounds funny, doesn't it? If you know me at all, you know how much I love Pure Barre. How much I longed to have this adventure and build this community. But, somewhere along the way in year 1, I lost a piece of that. I allowed the stress and the challenge and the never-ending responsibilities make me a little bit numb to it all. I lost the ability to see the joy of little movements that, done repeatedly, produce big changes.
My lessons for year 3 are less of a list and more of a theme. Instead of focusing on the thousands of things that could be done differently or better, I chose to focus on the big picture. The purpose behind it all. I surrendered some of my own control and began to let God lead.
I understand that that might not sound revolutionary to many of you, but if you own a business or are in any position of authority, you understand how heavy that responsibility can get. You understand how, even if you have a passion for your job, the amount of fear and expectation that you place on yourself has the capacity to drown it out. Every decision seems like it can make or break your business, and so you begin to treat each moment with that level of gravity. At the end of the day, all that does is give you the perception that you must always be doing big things, have big plans, and never miss a beat.
But we do miss the beat, both in teaching Pure Barre (hopefully not often) and in life. I used to flow through business with an attitude of "if it rains, it pours" or "everything is too good to be true, what's the catch?" There was no middle ground. So, if life outside of business was hard, it made business harder. If life was good all around, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I was only loving my business with conditions. I would love it if I felt good, I would love it if it performed well, and I would love it if I was happy. Everything was circumstantial and fleeting, not reliable and solid. But, like any great thing, the shift in my perspective during year 3 was gradual and quiet. It involved praying away some of my fear and control and practicing what I preached on a daily basis.
I began to allow my studio to be a place of comfort and a reminder of the good work that God began in my life many years ago, one that I believe is far from finished. So, when days were long and I wanted to be somewhere else this year, I leaned in. I thought of the days when I knew nothing about running a business or managing a team, days when this whole dream was just a college girl's long-shot. My life has changed so much because of this leap, and the more space I created for God to reshape my heart and my priorities in this venture, the more I have been able to let go of old expectations and find fulfillment in the promises that have already been met.
I have plenty of tactical lessons from this year - don't place a loud fitness studio next to a massage studio, invest money in continuing education, spend an uncomfortable portion of your budget on marketing because you need people, have faith in the future of your team, don't be afraid to do your own branding, and seek out new platforms for visibility. All of these lessons have been important, but none have impacted the big picture as much as trusting God to carry the whole story.
I don't tell you this to be fluffy or skirt the minutiae of entrepreneurship - I tell you because, until you learn that your purpose and your business are so much bigger than you, you'll never be able to love the little things and get clarity for your next step. I've always wanted to be 10 steps ahead, but when I learned to take a bit of a backseat, I was finally able to see the road in front of me.