Here I am. Back at my blog. I usually find myself back here, when I'm just not sure what the future looks like. I try to migrate back from time to time, but my posts never seem to have quite the PURPOSE behind them, unless I feel like I'm feeling my way through a dark room, blindfolded, with noise all around me.
Ask and you shall receive. Knock and the door will be opened for you. I am glad it is open, but it is surely uncomfortable. For 10 years I built and developed something that I thought I wanted to, that served a purpose and helped many people - including myself, in many different ways and in many different seasons. My good friend Steve Kelley used to say that it is like a locomotive is coming down the tracks and it's coming apart as it travels & there are a few of us keeping it together as we keep moving.
Well folks....when it reaches a point where people just want to ride on the train, but won't shovel any coal, won't turn any bolts, and won't do what needs to be done to keep the train moving AND on the tracks it breaks down.
In some aspects I've looked at me getting to this point as a failure. Good thing I got Covid and didn't feel like doing anything except sleeping and thinking. I did not fail, because I gave all I could give of myself until I felt like there was nothing left for me to do. No other opportunity I could present and truly...no more energy for me to exert. The train has to stop. I unhooked some carts and left them back on the tracks and now the locomotive engine is in for maintenance.
Being a small business owner is hard work, but worth it - if you love what you do. Being a growing small business is harder work because you are taking what you love and sharing it with more people, in hopes of helping more people. The sharing it with more people part.......That is what has brought me to where I am.
Some can argue that I have been able to help more people. What people don't necessarily see though is to what compromise? If sharing the gift with more people does not ignite. If I can't pass that vision on to people willing to pick up the torch and run in the same direction....the actual work suffers. They may be willing to hold the torch, but they aren't willing to run.
I'm over here holding a shovel, trying to drive the train, telling someone else what needs to be done, to help me and I have to pee. When the train screeches to a halt I look up and realize the absurdity of what I have done to myself.... What I DID NOT pay attention to as I wore myself out working for everyone else.
SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS MOVING INTO "THE NEXT LEVEL" OF YOUR BUSINESS:
Budget yourself REAL TIME quarterly - NOT 30 minutes to an hour.....several days to think EXTREMELY CRITICALLY of the direction you are going and if it aligns with what YOU (the builder) REALLY wants. It took me several hard conversations, realizing some hard truths, and LOTS of soul-searching. (I needed a full week.)
I am not quitting. I am servicing the locomotive and doing what I (that's ME, JUST me.) can do. The train stops. I'm going to take care of me, clean myself up, and start where I am, with what I - little ole' me can do. It may not keep moving, but the cargo will get there. The train will arrive and it will be ALL the good things that I can do.
Notice to all of those other conductors driving a locomotive down the tracks: At the first sign of compromise AKA:
-Paying everyone but yourself
-Doing SO much more than those around you, AS THEY WATCH YOU
-Having to double-check work because you don't trust that it has been handled properly
-Providing more tools and continuing to lose efficiency.
Sometimes your small business is you. GIVE YOURSELF THAT CREDIT. You built and developed something that helped others. You helped people make it through tough periods of life-changing transition. You built it because you saw a need. You shared it with others and YOU have given it all you had to give. Seriously....I drove it until the wheels fell off.
This may seem a tad dramatic, but it is EXACTLY what it feels like. It is literally pouring all of yourself into something and someone(s) with ONLY your limited knowledge and experience....until you can't. Hopefully this blog can serve as a checkpoint before it comes to a screeching hault.
What is so wild is that, drastically changing and downsizing ONE revenue stream, still leaves us with so many amazing opportunities.