As an Enneagram Six, I’m hardwired for preparedness. When TSHTF, as we preppers like to say, I’m the one you want hiding out in the bunker with you.
I laughed last week as people clawed each other’s eyes out for toilet paper. I stocked up three weeks ago when I first heard word of the virus making its way across the globe.
I didn’t bat an eye yesterday when at the grocery store the only meat left was some frozen duck breasts and chopped octopus. “I can work with this,” I thought. Years of kitchen experiments and watching too much Chopped have well equipped me for this moment.
But no amount of doomsday survival can prepare a small business owner for the bottom dropping out overnight due to a completely unforeseen global event. This feels a little bit like 9/11, when an attack on a Tuesday spun us around so quickly and violently we couldn’t sort out which way was up anymore. Except on 9/11 I was 14, I didn’t have a business. The economic fallout of current events is relatively new territory for me. I’m a single-person shop, there are only so many hours in a day I can work. So my ability to diversify service offerings and work across different verticals is finite. I wish I could have been more prepared, my Six heart pines for that safety net, but I couldn’t.
The trite saying is true, when you support a small business you support someone’s dream. Mine was born in the bedroom of my parents house at the age of 18 and was hard-won over years of completely bypassing the college experience to spend all my free time working, lunch breaks at my “real job” spent in the public library (hello free wi-fi), and both the economic and personal sacrifice of myself and my husband as we made the terrifying decision that this dream was worth chasing.
When I think back to how I got from my childhood bedroom to here, over ten years later, still somehow keeping the engine running on this crazy vision of mine, I’m reminded that it’s been part effort and part chance that brought me here. So many of the decisive moments of my business are the result of things I could have never orchestrated myself.
The hurricane that cancelled the beach wedding and brought the family to Atlanta where last minute they called me in to shoot, opening up a relationship with their venue that lasted for years and brought dozens of clients my way.
The Facebook Marketplace sale of a 1960’s tulip chair that resulted in me meeting a close friend and collaborator who has walked with me through dark times and been a champion and cheerleader for me ever since.
The chance meeting I had with another wannabe entrepreneur while working contract work after leaving my corporate job. My desk just happened to be next to hers and we chatted about family, cookies, and our future plans over the week that I was in the studio. She’s now one of my best friends and a trusted business collaborator to this day.
The Facebook thread that caught the eye of a local agency owner, recognizing that we were both located in Atlanta, and prompted her to ask me to coffee. We still work together almost five years later.
As much as I would like to attribute these valuable occurrences to my plan, as much as I’d like to pretend there was a spreadsheet somewhere that orchestrated these moments in perfect synchronicity with my goals for the quarter, I think it’s obvious, these things were completely driven by fate, God, the universe, whatever you want to call it. And how beautiful it is to look back now and see how these seemingly trivial moments wove themselves into vital aspects of not only my business but my life.
Today I sit upon the brink of a new (dare I say NOVEL) type of uncertainty. My brain says I should be afraid of the unknown, of the lack of command I have over the situation, but my heart knows that perhaps one of the most lovely aspects of the human experience is the role that fate plays in our story. The more open I am to whatever happens next, the more room there is for something unfathomable to take shape in my life. If I’m really really honest with myself, I know that I was never in control anyway. How beautiful.
If this post resonated with where you are today, I highly encourage you to check out this 30 minute video (I mean, time is the one thing we’ve got right now, right?) on plans vs. purpose. The ideas expressed in this sermon have resonated me deeply over the last six months of widespread uncertainty and fear in my own life, and I hope that they help you too.