A New Year of New EndeavorsHello, friends, and happy 2013! We hope your year is off to a good start. We’ve been a bit quiet here at WPG, and it’s mostly by design. We’ve been hunkered down this month, reflecting on last year’s adventures and taking care of a few important tasks to get this year started off on the right foot. Two of those tasks are ones we wrote about back in August, upon return from our road trip to check out graduate schools in the Midwest. We shared the debate we’d been having about our future plans, specifically whether applying to graduate school or starting our own business made more sense for us. We concluded, “When in doubt, do it all!” and set out to do just that.
This month has been all about making progress on both fronts. After weeks of effort and several rounds of review, M submitted his graduate school applications last week. They’re not due until February 1st, but it was a huge relief to get them done early. He won’t hear back from the schools for several more weeks, and I’m waiting until he does before I decide whether or not to apply. His program is the primary driver for the grad school decision, so it makes sense to wait and see where he gets in before I plunk down time and money on my application. His program would also take two years longer than mine, so I’d have plenty of time to settle in (working and establishing residency, if needed) before starting school…and I’d still finish before he does!
On the business front, from a legal perspective, our new wellness coaching and personal training business has been an official entity since we formed the company back in October. But it only existed on paper. We opened a business checking account in December and incurred a few small start-up expenses, but beyond that, we hadn’t done much. Lots of thinking and “Sounds great, let’s tackle that next year” but not a lot of doing.
Then, two weeks ago, a random email from a potential client arrived in my inbox. His wife’s birthday was coming up, and he wanted to hire me. Was I available to take on a new training client? Although I didn’t think we were quite ready, there’s really no saying “No” to your potential first client. So I said, “Yes! Of course…” and we were off.
Overnight, I worked up a summary of services, pricing sheet and temporary logo and sent back my first proposal. He liked what I had to say, selected two (!) different packages, and asked how to pay. My first client and our company’s first sale. My reaction was a mix of elation and anxiety, excitement and self-doubt. I was no longer talking about doing; I was actually doing. And all of a sudden, there was a lot to do.
Not unlike every other small business owner out there, we are our own marketing, compliance, IT support, product development, training, and accounting departments. (Fortunately, between the two of us, we held just about every one of those roles in our prior careers.) We, and we alone, are responsible for every decision, whether strategic or operational. After years of working for other people, it’s liberating to be in complete control. But it can be overwhelming at times. In dual roles as spouses and business partners, we are still learning how to work together and need to figure out what boundaries we each need between “work” and “not work.”
So far, we’ve navigated the early challenges with ease. We’re on the cusp of our website launch, and the end of this early blizzard of activity is in sight. My first several client sessions have gone well, and they’ve indicated an interest in purchasing additional sessions. I’m getting more comfortable in my new roles—all of them—and with my new professional identity. After years of driving to the office in the costume of a middle manager, I now walk to the gym dressed in workout gear and running shoes. After a lengthy sabbatical, I’ve returned to the ranks of the (self-) employed, but on my terms.
So much has changed since that August post, but two things remain: We are still in doubt, and we are doing it all. We have no idea where we will be in a year, how the business will grow, or whether either of us will be enrolling in school this fall. But I know that the early successes we’ve had this month are encouraging and energizing, and I’m running toward the future at full speed. –J.