February 9, 2017

Four Lessons I Learned from Opening & Losing my first Business.

After returning home from traveling for four months, a good friend proposed we start a business together.

I met her while she was working in a crystal shop, and we’d always dreamed of having our own spiritual-based business, so the idea was exciting,

We filed the paperwork and rented the place we wanted. We created our brand, designed the furniture, bought our first big batch of crystals and signed contracts with book distributors. We created a unique line of crystal-based products like aromatherapy bottles with amethysts to clean spaces, hand creams with citrine and rose quartz to work on self-esteem and self-love, kits with sea salt and sage to clean the crystals, among other things. We went from zero to open in only 24 days!

Lesson 1: Having alignment offers the most sustainable way of working.

When we opened the shop doors at the end of November, we were proud of what we had created, but we had totally underestimated the amount of work we would need to put into it.

When we worked together and were in alignment with what we wanted to achieve, great things happened. We didn’t have to hustle, grind and fight for it. The effort we put into what were making felt rewarding and worth it.

However, we had an overload of business during the holidays, and when January came, I was feeling exhausted and no longer felt the drive I had at the beginning. Things with my friend also started to change. We began to have difficulty making important decisions, which affected our working environment—but I thought this was normal. After all, doesn’t everyone have a hard time at work from time to time?

Lesson 2: Don’t ignore the red flags.

These arguments about small decisions and being unable to find a middle ground were the first red flags. I had that nagging feeling in my stomach about them, but I told myself it was fine—that it was business, it was “real life.” I chose to ignore my intuition instead of tuning into what was going on. Things only got worse.

After a couple of weeks, money started to become an issue. We had different perspectives and different needs. I decided (on my own) that she would be better to manage the finances and I would devote my time to creating and generating ideas for the business. I left the money part unattended, not knowing that she wanted the business to start supporting her financially from the get-go (which is business suicide), and it all went out of control.

Lesson 3: Boundaries and clarity are everything.

Our first mistakes were not setting guidelines or expressing our needs and wants clearly. We assumed, we played along, and we went after our own interests—this was the deal breaker. If we don’t speak up, if we don’t agree on limits, if we don’t make clarity a priority, there is no way we can make anything work.

Things got so difficult that I felt sick almost every day, but I pushed myself to keep going. The vibes were intense, but we were trying to keep everything afloat. Every day, I felt I was in the wrong place. At one point, after long conversations with my dad, I decided I couldn’t do it any longer. I told her about it and after the emotional tsunami settled, she decided she wanted to keep the business for herself. I stepped out with a mix of pain and relief.

Lesson 4: Sometimes the best decisions are the hardest to make.

I felt like a fraud. There was a part of me that wanted to stay and prove to everyone that I could do hard things. There was a part of me that saw this as a defeat. But shortly after, I realized that this was just my attachment to what I had created. I was attached to the idea of the business, but not the everyday work involved. I realized I wanted to be location independent. I released the pain and I was left with a great relief and white space to create something new.

Our friendship stood no chance after this. There were too many things that had to be taken care of before we could sit down as friends again, and the moment never came (or perhaps not yet).

It was an intense experience. It was wonderful and messy, creative and destructive, painful and joyful, but it laid out the best foundation for my current business.

I keep these lessons close to my heart so I won’t repeat the same mistakes in the future.


Author: Andrea Gomez

Image: Mark Skipper/Flickr

Editor: Catherine Monkman

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