Growing a business the past six years has been an interesting ride. I never even intended to start a PR company; what quickly evolved from me freelancing with a little baby and recovering from a severe diagnosis and grew as I found myself excited about the prospects of cool new clients and the ability to help them grow their businesses.
But as soon as I started saying yes and hit go, it was all about growth, growth, growth.
I've learned over the years that everyone wants to know how "big" your company is... how many employees, how many clients, the size of your office space. It feels like that's how prospects and new contacts define quality.
It's like starting a family. As soon as you get engaged, you get asked when you're getting married, then having a child, and it continues. When are you having another child?
The assumption is that bigger is always better.
It's time we changed that perception.
I've been going on autopilot for years, without reflecting, simply focused on growing my company, growing my blog, growing/raising our family and keeping the machine going.
Then all of a sudden this year, I didn't feel happy. In fact, last fall I felt really "eh" though I couldn't put my finger on why. Then my dad passed away.
It was time to hit pause -- an important moment we all need, even without a big moment to force us into it -- to reflect on where I was, and where I want to be. Not me as a mom and wife, but me as in Alyson, this girl. What did I want, and what was missing?
I felt an imbalance. My days were driven by growing my businesses when I wanted to focus more on my kindergarten student who was learning to read and write, and often frustrated. I sought a deeper connection with our two-year old boy, to give him the attention he deserved, and to help him as he tried to find his voice. And, let's not forget trying to have a quality conversation or two with my husband.
I discovered that I actually loved speaking in public about my story, overcoming major medical obstacles, entrepreneurship, girl-bossness and all the related topics. I love writing, and I find such passion in writing my blog, The Average Girl's Guide, and connecting with other women. It brings me to life like you wouldn't believe.
I knew I needed to focus on my health and get to the gym more regularly; I wanted to find more opportunities to volunteer as a family, and honestly, just not be so frazzled each day trying to get it all done before the next day came around again.
At the same time, I love helping local businesses and nonprofits.
The thing is, running a business is hard work. And, as my business grew I began doing less and less of my passion and more of the bills, invoices and apologies. Let's be honest, the later kind of sucks.
It took some honest reflection and lots of conversations about where I want to go and what brings me joy to realize what I ultimately needed to do.
I decided "growth" for the PR company isn't what this business owner wanted, at least not now and not in this form. And, that's OK.
Success is not defined by size, it's defined by impact.
I decided back in February for our office space to go virtual and keep our staff small but mighty. I no longer wanted our pricey office space on a busy street to validate our capabilities (people always loved hearing our location near a popular restaurant; I swear they thought we were more talented because of the nearby tacos!), and removing that expense could actually keep our salaries the same.
I've been really honest with the team along this journey and luckily they've been on board with my crazy. I recognize that's not easy.
So after months of build up, we moved out of our office space last Wednesday. I had been so pumped talking about this -- because I know this is ultimately want I want in the long term -- but honestly, the last week has been rough, both physically and mentally. I can't even get into issues with IT and phone lines, and now that I'm at home, I basically need to discover some major self control so I don't venture into the kitchen every 20 minutes. The struggle is real, ladies.
A small part of me feels like I'm going backwards because I've done the home office business before but the larger part of me sees this as an amazing opportunity to really refine everything, and be more thoughtful about the decisions I make for myself, my family, my businesses and my clients.
It's easy for days, weeks and even years to fly by before you realize you're not where you want to be. It happened to me six years later, like a slow build up that just went WHAM.
Are you happy and feel joy about your life big picture?
If not, that's OK. Start thinking about the steps you can take, and don't worry about what others say. I know there are people out there that will think whatever they will about the success of my business, but hey, people don't get blogging as a business either. So whatever.
I brush it off, focused on success in my lane, in my terms.
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image credit: Palm Beach Post