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Moving Forward

2019 was a banner year for my business, in part due to my hustle and in part due to necessity because my husband was not able to work for a while. Things just worked out and both my revenue and profit soared. By the time 2020 rolled around I was ready for a break and planned a no-growth year for my business. I was ready for a change and for something different, wanted to explore things unrelated to my business, take time for creativity, start writing more, and take more time off.

 

As it turned out, 2020 was an even bigger shit show than 2019, with a whole new set of challenges. I didn't write a single blog post here the entire year. We were lucky though because I kept working throughout the year, from home, as I had been since 2011. Plus, during all the craziness of the pandemic we made a huge decision - we sold our house and moved into the wilderness, where I started working "on location" for a client I'd been working with for years. It was an adventure, but it came to an end 9 months later when my husband and I moved back to the same small town we'd lived in before because we need to be closer to accessible health care.

 

The last 15 months seem like a blur and an eternity all at the same time, and while I'm glad we made it through I'm still not entirely sure how. What I do know for sure though is that nothing stays the same forever and what matters is that we move forward, no matter how small the steps.

 

For about two years before the pandemic I was working on being online less and more in-person with clients and collaborators. While Covid accelerated all things online by about 10 years within a few months, I feel stronger than ever about wanting to work with people in person, on a local level. And by local I mean about a 300 km radius, which is almost hyperlocal if you think in Canadian terms. Everything is far away here.

 

I'm grateful for and fascinated by all the tech advances of the last 15 months - online specialist appointments, getting daily chores like car insurance done via email, and having grocery delivery service even in small towns - but I also feel more isolated than ever {I know, just like everyone else} and I cannot find any meaning in a bazillion zoom meetings and half-ass attempts at an online presence because that's what you're supposed to do now. Maybe the pandemic has not only accelerated our use and access to online tools, but also the inevitable reset of the online social culture? Something's gotta give, and I feel like it needs to be sooner than later.

 

Observe and project

I've been doing a lot of observing in the last few months. How people are using social media. How other businesses are advertising. How non-profit organizations are getting a boatload of funding right now to help the business community, but access is not the same for everyone. How the daily news just seem to be getting worse and worse. Why are people this way? How brilliant ideas are essential for starting a business, but it takes a lot more than that to actually run one successfully, and how many entrepreneurs lack those skills for long-term success. How true change takes a long time. How sometimes you can't wait for big-picture changes and just need to make it happen on a small level, and not care about whether it will create a ripple or not.

 

I've been taking daily notes since December 2019 and I'm recoding all those observations. The point is to notice and to become aware of other perspectives. Because working alone all the time and being inside your own head all the time really does a number on one's creativity and inventiveness. And being online all the time and working online just amplifies it. Do you ever ask yourself how you could apply other perspectives to your business? To your life? I didn't for a long time. Even though it's exactly what I have been teaching for over 15 years now. 

 

I keep thinking that there has to be a better way. A better way to use all the advantages "online" offers without being its bitch. All while strengthening the local economy so it can grow and be online as well, but roots firmly planted locally. Because even if we can virtually be everywhere, we need to have roots somewhere? And maybe I'm just not seeing how this could work because it hasn't been done in the small town I live in, but maybe it's being done all over the place elsewhere? Which brings me back to sometimes not waiting for big-picture changes and just making it happen on a small level... 

 

That's where I'm at right now. After 10 years in business I'm taking the time to re-evaluate and optimize my systems and processes and I'm planning for the next 10 years of running my business, sustainably. Nothing earth-shattering yet, but it really does not have to be. Not everything needs a big bang, sometimes it's plenty if only you know.