I shared this story a few weeks ago with my Love Letter Subscribers – so if that’s you, you might want to skip ahead to the update. I wasn’t going to share it here at first because, well on the web seemed TOO public to go with it, but the amazing response from those who got the email encouraged me to share it with you too.
This year has been my most successful in terms of my little business. (You know, the business formally known as Studio Exsto, but now Elle Roberts.)
This year the Artful Business Conference was an incredible event that the attendees raved about. The action people have taken since fills me with joy and pride.
However, if you look at my finances, or ask me how I feel about this year, I’d have to say it has been a huge failure.
The conference cost me personally around $20,000. The total budget was around $85,000 – the $20K is the loss I incurred.
To put that into clear perspective my annual income for the 2012-2013 financial year was about $19,000.
A two-day event for 120 people cost me MORE than the previous year’s income.
What was I thinking?
I love the Artful Business Conference and I am epically proud of the impact it has had for the people who have come along for the last three years!
But seriously, what was I thinking!?
The financial pressure, the overwhelming stress and the ongoing hiccups involved in this event have burnt me out.
For the last three months I have lived on the verge of tears, I have hated waking up and going to the office most mornings (which is heartbreaking in itself because I have always loved my work). I am not sleeping or eating or exercising as well as I know I need to. I am watching too much shit TV and I am feeling sad and sorry for myself all too often.
I have been running on EMPTY! So why am I sharing this? Not so you feel bad for me, but so I can share with you the good things that have come from the toughest few months of my life.
Here are the valuable lessons I have learnt these past months;
Success can come hand in hand with failure
I feel that the ABC failed because it put me in a whopping big financial hole, but I know others see it as an incredible success. I know I still have to find a way to acknowledge that.
Find a way to take small steps
The bigger the mountain, the harder the challenge, the more overwhelmed you get; the more important it is to set yourself little, achievable goals. When it all gets too much and too big the only way not to lose your mind or freeze totally is to take small steps and celebrate them along the way.
It’s more than ok to ask for help
Asking for help is a gift to those around you. Being a strong, independent, tough young single mum I don’t like to lean on people. But that’s unfair not only to myself but the people who love me. I have some seriously amazing people around me and they want to help, they need me to let them in so they can support me. I love helping and supporting those around me so why have I been so stubborn about letting others do the same back?
The big dream can wait sometimes
It’s OK to side step your dream for a little while. I am a business coach and I help people build a more successful business, but I am currently looking for a part time job. I beat myself up about this for weeks, agonised over it, considered how I could ensure the world, social media and you never found out (because how embarrassing). But I have realised it is OK to take a side step away from the bigger picture for a while and deal with the now.
I tell my clients all the time, it’s ok to be driven by external circumstances, it’s ok to make choices based solely around money and what your family needs right now. The important thing is to have a plan to get back to the path you are meant to be on. I want to grow my business a certain way, I don’t want to hustle for the next sale over and over but instead focus on the long game, bigger projects. I want to write and connect not sell. But right now I need to pay bills, rent and groceries so a part time job will allow me the freedom to do all of those things and I finally feel comfortable with that.
A day at the beach can restore your soul
Because of all of the things I’ve shared so far, I’ve also had very little down time these past few months. If I’m not managing event follow up, I’m busting a gut to get client work done so I can send out invoices. I’m doing work I can do but don’t love so I can pay the bills – that’s OK, it has to be done. But I was running on empty. So, last week I took two days OFF. I was off line, out of town and with a wonderful man who makes me smile. It restored my soul (or went a long to doing it anyway). This week I have had more energy, more focus and more resolve to get past this dip in the road and build on the successes.
So what now?
I know this year has been tough in a lot of various ways for a lot of people and so I wanted to share these lessons with you. If you are in a dip, I urge you to trust the journey, even if this low feels deeper and wider, know that you will come out the other end. And you will be even more amazing on the other side of it.
I’m still feeling a little lost in the grey but I am starting to see my way around the mountain and it’s only because I am being kind to myself, letting others help and taking some time out to breathe.
I have started a job – it’s almost full time but not quite. I will be working in an office 8-3 five days a week, which is more than I wanted to be doing but the job was too good to say no to. I get to use my skills of business planning, organising and setting up processes as well as marketing, design and a bit of web development stuff while at the same time it is low pressure, low stress and a decent pay check at the end of each week.
Today was Day 2 of my second week and I already feel the fog lifting. I am enjoying the routine, the certainty and the hum of the office full of people for a change from my solo office at the other end of my house.
I am giving myself time to settle in so not making any decisions about the business until the new year but at this stage I feel that this job is actually going to free me up to do the work I want to be doing, stop saying yes to the crazy stressful jobs and work on the long game of my business and goals.
I am tired, still a little nervous about it all but so very excited for what 2015 will bring.