Sunday, November 27, 2011

:: the first business trimester ::

it's four now, and i'm just sitting down to work, which on a sunday is pretty much unheard of. usually i toil my sundays away since i have no childcare on monday and only part of a day on tuesday. sundays are important days, work wise.

instead of working i spent 20 minutes on the elliptical and 5 hours sweeping and mopping my house from top to bottom. (note to self: if you are going to spend five hours sweeping and mopping, 20 minutes on the elliptical is kinda irrelevant.)

my work break has much less to do with needing to clean -- let's face it, i clean so seldom that there's basically always a need to do it -- and much more to do with needing to do some business thinking.

it's the same reason i've been absent here on the blog these last 19 days.

i'm thinking. planning. assessing. polling. synthesizing. crunching. fantasizing. gut-checking.

business is slow this month -- because i made it that way. i've taken off random saturdays to sit and stare at my husband, or my in-laws, spent sundays sliding furniture around in order to uncover bunny-sized dust bunnies. i've gone evenings (not many, mind you, maybe even just one) completely computer-free. i've taken long lunch breaks and walks around the block.

sales are way down, of course, but thanks to work i did all year for minted and snapfish, i'm reaping the rewards of the holiday season without much effort at all on my part.

i have my reasons for creating this slow, slow november.

i am at a point in the growth of my business and my family life where i need to figure out what the next few years are going to look like.

brian would like to have a bit more of me on the weekends and has suggested a few times that it might be time to think about a more full-time daycare situation for the kids. and i've also had a business epiphany that pushes the issue further. 

i have a really excellent business plan and i've crunched the numbers and done some market research and floated the idea by friends and colleagues and it's excitingly possible. doable. but to do it right, and it's the kind of thing that really has to be done right, it will require three things:
  1. a significant investment - of somewhere around $10-16K - that it will take between 9 and 12 months to recuperate, which I realize isn't bad at all from a business investment standpoint.
  2. a dedicated space (i.e. commercial or industrial studio space), which adds to the investment tally and extends the time until break-even.
  3. an employee. which, yeah, adds to the investment tally and, right again, extends the time until break-even quite a bit more. this part of the equation also adds the potential for a lot more stress.

i'm not totally good with stress. my tissues seem to be stress sponges, sucking up all the cortisol and adrenaline and other yuckiness and turning them into raw, pulsating panic that strikes when least expected, sometimes even waking me from a dead sleep. 

i am surprisingly okay with issue number one, the investment, but the second two are too big for me to take lightly. they're major. crazy major. to make those two things (a studio, an employee) work with my life, i'd definitely have to up the week-day daycare and in order to compensate, work less on the weekends. i'd be signing myself up for a full-time day job working for myself and being someone's boss.

let me tell you, it doesn't feel great knowing that i have this viable business idea that has the potential to really be wildly successful and that all i need to do to make it happen is commit to it fullheartedly and step up and take the reins and yet i'm sitting here writing a long thinky blog post about it.

it also doesn't feel great knowing that my hesitation is a very female hesitation. something tells me that a man in my position would already have been down to the SBA talking about loans, would have scoped out studio space, would have talked to the woman at daycare about extending the kids' hours, and would be spreading the word about the impending new hire. that i'm not doing those things makes me feel a bit wimpy.

brian is already telling people - you know, family members and such - about my new business plan, which makes me cringe a little bit. or not cringe. wince. like it hurts to talk about it. and hurt i guess it does, because i know he's right that i could easily be racing forward into the wild blue future. 

but there are things i just can't ignore. i can't ignore the fact that i'm a total introvert who isn't exactly jumping up and down at the thought of working day-in and day-out with the same human being, having to communicate each day with that person. having to advise, guide, teach, correct, and listen to carefully enough to make the business - and the working relationship - work.

and i can't ignore the fact that emily is only two and i still want a little bit more time with her. she's at that age where we are starting to be buddies, and i really do not like the idea that i got to share the early buddy years with evan but might choose not to spend them with emily. it's a decidedly motherly thing to worry about, that i won't know my daughter as well as i will know my son, but it's there and its un-ignorable.

so here i sit, feeling so much like a mother in her first trimester who is nervous and excited and bewildered, who doesn't want to tell anyone about the baby yet - just in case. here i sit with a kick-ass plan for a really kick-ass business, one that would be both a new direction for me and a really logical extension of everything i've been doing since november 2, 2008 when all of this started.

if i don't move forward with the plan, i know i'll mourn the loss. i don't know that i can go as far as to compare it to a miscarriage or an abortion, since i've never experienced those, but there will definitely be pain and mourning and the sense that something amazing didn't happen. but while that sounds to some like a reason in and of itself to move forward -- take the plunge in order to avoid the mourning, the pain, the loss, the regret -- to me it's not so clear. avoiding that sense of loss isn't enough to make me ignore the fact that i'm not sure i want the life that bringing this new business to fruition would bestow upon me. the life for me, and for my family.

it's all so damned complicated.

there are some things that i am pretty sure of. 
  1. i like working. i wouldn't trade in my job for staying home full time in a million years. i LOVE my kids and i LOVE that we have mondays all to ourselves to just do kid-and-mom-type things. out and about in the old things and here at home things. but i do actually hope to even out my life a bit more over the next few years so that i can do more of my work during "normal" work hours and less at night and on weekends.
  2. i like that my job is flexible.
  3. if anything, over the years i've wished it would be even a little bit easier for me to take breaks, deal with illnesses, etc.

beyond those things, i think i need to do some more house-cleaning, by which i mean soul-searching. i hope you'll indulge my silence about the specifics of the business while i do so.

and um, yeah, please do stop by my shop, as well as minted and/or snapfish, if you're so inclined this month. you'll be contributing directly to my ability to take the time to figure shit out.

please and thank you good night.