Note: I decided to postpone today’s planned blog post until next week. Instead I am posting an unedited cathartic writing I did the night we announced the Float Shoppe expansion next door, a community and yoga space that will open October 1st. This writing doesn’t have the normal flow of my other posts as it really is just free-form writing. When I was done I thought others might find value in my process… At least I hope you do; let me know in the comments section below!
Friday July 26th, 2013. This evening we officially announced to the public that we will be expanding to the building next door. A community center that will house yoga, meditation, fitness classes and whatever else our community will enjoy. The response has already been very positive and has given me goosebumps several times. Now, as the sun sets this evening I have found myself in a reflective mood.
It’s been almost exactly two years since signing the lease for our first location. Sandra and I’s first business and our first public expression of our own personal values towards our community. We both have always found wellness, personal introspection and development very close to our souls, so a float and wellness center only made sense. Over time though, your original intent has to sit back seat as you implement your plans. For me this began during construction. If you have read my previous blog post, you know that I became very burnt out during this time; the stress of running out of finances before even opening took a major toll on me. The goal was still there, but now it was in the back of my mind. Putting up walls and laying thinset was all I could think about.
When we opened our doors to the public it was like a wave of fresh air blew through the building, clearing my cluttered mind and softening my heart from the months of construction. I was refreshed and reinvigorated. But there was no break. No time to sit back and look at what we had accomplished. From then on money became my new concern. Would we make enough money to pay our rent? Utilities? A whole new weight of stress lay on my chest. Something that provides me solace is that never during this time (and still today) did the desire to make money overshadow any moment I had with a customer, it never motivated me to oversell our product or push a sale upon a customer. When I am at the Shoppe, our customers and their experience and wellness are all that matters to me. I am very proud of my integrity.
Eventually we started hiring employees. This was difficult decision for us as it wasn’t really about the fact that we were doing financially well enough to hire employees as it was that we simply needed breaks. Working all day every day was taking it’s toll on me and on my interactions with customers. Hire employees we did, and we were able to afford it. Somehow we made just enough to support an employee, then two, now we have four wonderful people with us. As we have been providing for our community, our community has been providing for us. This should be the part where I am able to relax and pull my shoulders down from my ears, but instead the weight of having employees and practitioners livelihoods depend on us meant yet again I couldn’t sleep at night. Since signing the lease to our building I have probably had more sleepless than sleepfull nights. What if our sales go down? What if we have to let an employee go? Becoming a provider for the Shoppe community meant I had considerations larger than myself for the first time, and I wasn’t used to it.
Today Sandra and I are fully supported by the Shoppe. It’s an incredible testament to hard work, community and compassion. We live modestly and most of our profit goes directly back into the Shoppe. You might assume that this would be just one more example of stress keeping me up at night. But instead, I am finally finding comfort in this world without a corporation guaranteeing me a weekly paycheck. I am coming to terms with the universe providing. I even sleep through most nights now.
And now here I am with Sandra, starting a new business. Yes, it is still the Float Shoppe, but it is also a completely different type of business than what we have done before. It will require construction, it will require an uphill learning curve, it will require our community believing and desiring what we provide enough to sustain our lease agreement.
But this time I have a chance to breath before opening, so I want to take this time and re-assess my values. Why I am here and doing this? Why do we feel the need to expand? Am I motivated by the same pushes as Napoleon?
I have met so many business owners. Many of the most successful ones are motivated by business itself. It wouldn’t matter what business this person were put in charge of, they would be successful. This a great motivator and helps build successful businesses. I too enjoy the art of business and the development of a concept into something that is implemented and gives to the community while the community provides for it. But I have also found that there is something that runs deeper within me. I want people to be better.
Sometimes it’s a physical ailment that I want to help someone with. But usually it’s about something much deeper. It’s about an individuals experience on this Earth. It’s about that person enjoying this ride we are on and feeling the love that runs through all of us.
I am finding that as much as I enjoy the idea of running a business, there is no happenstance involved in my creating a wellness center. Which brings me back to our expansion. As much as I can get lost in all the minutiae of running a business (finances, marketing, social networking, employee training, etc) what compels me is something far bigger than these individual things. We could be opening a restaurant next door, but that isn’t what moves Sandra and I, it’s not what drives us and compels us to keep pushing forward. Our souls are filled when we help others become more able to enjoy this experience on Earth, more able to connect with others, with themselves. This is what moves us. This is what compels us to move from simply a center for individual treatment to a place of community and connection. Because we want to help people in all facets, and there is so much more than just the individual and inward experience. Each has their place, and we feel incomplete only offering one side of this.
As I write this I feel myself being filled up with the energy and excitement of what drives me. Business is good, but people and community are everything. This time I am going to focus on having my drive and purpose walk side by side with the planning, the construction, and finally day-to-day of operations of our new space. This time I want to breath and enjoy the entire process. In the end, not only will it make me a happier person, but it will make our business an even better place to be. I’m told so frequently that it’s about the journey, not the destination. I’m learning more and more how true that is.