Closing your business brings with it some interesting conversations, thoughts and feelings. Not only within yourself, but from others too. What I’m most surprised by is how seemingly invested so many people were in my business, as soon as I announced it was closing! Especially considering many of those people had not ever really ‘invested’ in my business in the several years it was running.
To be clear, I dont mean just invested financially. So many of the comments and thoughts and opinions received over the past week or so, since my announcement have been in the vein of ‘oh I was hoping to join’ ‘oh I really enjoy your work’ ‘oh no, I was going to recommend someone to you’ and that shit? That shit is bittersweet.
Because you have to wonder, are these false platitudes because a person doesn’t know what else to say? Were they genuinely about to do that thing? Is the age old ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone’ playing out?
And as a business, you have to ask yourself the honest hard questions. Because if I was that good, surely they wouldn’t have been forever just about to join, just about to recommend, just about to tell others about you. They would have jumped right in. Wouldnt they?
For businesses like mine to succeed we have to be invested in them.
We have to be invested in sharing what we love about them, in telling others about that event or class that we think that person would enjoy, by engaging with that business. Or invested in attending workshops or classes, taking part in free challenges and communities and then telling others what we thought about it.
But we don’t seem to be very good at that really as a society. We are great at complaining when a business doesn’t deliver, or moaning that something wasn’t what we expected, we are eager to tell friends not to use that business, but there does seem to be a bit of a block on telling people when we loved something, when we invested in a thing and got results. We seem to just presume the business knows they are doing a good job, unless we tell them otherwise.
And businesses seem to also really struggle to ask for and recieve the feedback needed too. I know for me, I’ve been guilty of completing an amazing course and then forgetting to complete that feedback form.
We have to do better. I HAVE TO DO BETTER
By better I mean getting better at telling people about the things and getting better about giving businesses the feedback they need, so that they can do better too.
Is there a business you keep meaning to tell someone about? A product you loved? A course you thought might be great for someone you know? A service that really helped you? Shout about it my friends and make it a habit. Hell, put it in your Google calendar to remind you to recommend, rate or rabbit about a business!
Its too late for my business, and lack of investment wasn’t the only thing that caused me to close, after all, my situation was more complex, but investment could have helped.
Another of the top comments & thoughts I’ve recieved from others has been ‘Okay Nici, so what now?’
In honesty it wasn’t even a question I had considered until people started asking it and it reminded me that in our general society today, we are so focused on the next thing and the next and the next arent we? Forgetting that there is a moment right now that we could be in instead.
Often, when someone doesn’t have an urge to move onto the next thing, or just wants breathing space, people struggle to hear it and accept it.
The idea that it is okay to not move quickly onto another thing isnt one that is readily accepted.
Even worse, shock horror! The idea that I might be being deadly serious about looking forward to having time to breath, to focus on my children and their home education, to finish my degree and to actually get my house more in order again after years of struggling to juggle it all, seems to be met with a look that suggests disbelief and confusion.
I recall a conversation I had with a dear friend a few months ago, in the height of lockdown when we were both feeling thoroughly overwhelmed by the work life balance.
I am used to having kiddos with me 24/7, yet having all 4 of them here, not able to go to our normal home ed meet ups, get out and about, with expectations from my daughters school for emergency laptop learning on top while running my business felt insanely hard. I felt massively for parents who usually have children in school while they work. Working from home is hard and its hard even when you are also a home edder, let alone for those who normally work outside the home AND whose children are normally in school too. Add in a partner who normally works outside the home and my word, I can understand and felt the stress of it all.
We both spoke in the conversation about how much we sometimes wish we were in the 40s or 50s, when our place was in the home, caring for it and the children. How we sometimes wish we could just be satisfied and feel accomplished in the life of housewife and mother because surely that would be easier than this. We are both business women running our own businesses and yet a more old world traditional family set up felt more appealing in those months of trying to juggle the world.
Because although its 2020, women still tend to do twice the work. Once in the house and again in their business or job. They often carry the emotional load of the home and family regardless of what they do as a paid job and there is still a minority of families that this doesn’t apply to, no matter how progressive, open and woke you are.
For my family one (or both) of the parents needs to be at home to home educate the 2 youngest boys. My husband makes significantly more money than I could in a paid job. He has a trade and is highly skilled in it and so our ability to home ed is dependent on him being able to be to in a well paid position. The type of job he does means he cannot choose his hours or spend some of it working from home and so, it made the most sense for me to stay home with the boys and build my business around them.
My husband does plenty of the household chores and care of the children. As far as we were both concerned, up until my business closed, I was working two jobs and so was he. Me home edding and caring for the children during the day, then working evenings and weekends in my business and him working in his paid job during the day and then taking over the care and education in the evenings and weekends.
This became difficult when Covid-19 hit. My husband was made redundant from the local business he worked for and he had to take a job that took him back to commuting to London daily. The weight of the house and the family shifted onto my shoulders as he was now gone before anyone woke in the morning and home just before or after bedtime in the evening.
Running a business with hours snatched here and there is doable, especially doable when you have children in school, even doable if you have children who are home ed but are self motivated and dont have complex additional needs. But its not quite so doable when you are mum to 3 autistic children with various needs and a bouncy 7 year old who needs you.
So in short? Fuck thinking about whats next. Sod trying to see where I can place my business minded focus next.
It is enough to wake in the morning and know I have a day of spending time with my children learning and growing and not having to try to work out when I can do the 7 things outstanding for my work.
It is enough having the time to cook a meal and sit together to eat it, before 8pm instead of rushing a meal and having to leave the children to finish up as I have yet another call.
It is enough to be able to sit with my husband and watch mindless TV together after the children have gone to bed.
I am in the very privileged position that we can (and do) make ends meet with one wage and my business was beginning to put a strain on those ends meeting, instead of stretching it further. We are by no means well off, but we have a roof over our heads, a warm home, food in the cupboards. Which makes us more well off than so so many right now.
And so, when people ask me whats next and I say breathing, cleaning, cooking, bedtimes and meals, these are not the failures of an independent business woman, but the acceptance of an interdependent family unit doing what works best.
I am looking forward to having one job again instead of two. Of having just 5 people relying on me again, instead of clients and my communities on top, of being able to write again whenever I feel like it, of being able to lend a hand to others with my skills when it suits me and being able to continue with my other areas of work that do fit my lifestyle and my families needs.
And most of all I am grateful daily for the opportunity to have that choice and for finally taking it, instead of feeling like being happy with that is a failure as a modern woman.