Note: I decided to post this on the site after a friend told me that this post was important, and necessary to add to conversations about entrepreneurship.
During the first quarter of 2017, I had lofty goals and a strategic plan. I had taken December to have a Team Jali Retreat in a chic industrial condo with a fabulous view of Miami sunshine and palm trees. We had come away invigorated, filled with all sorts of good ideas, new insights and plans. Then I joined MarketHack out of the Idea Center at Miami-Dade College (an amazing course on practical digital marketing), and all was well, truly. February was off to a promising start, and then the unthinkable happened.
No, really, I mean it...something that literally had never occurred to me as I had drawn up my grandiose visions of 2017. I lost my first love, the first man to hold my hand and tell me I was beautiful, the man who taught me what it meant to be strong, to stand up for what was right and to speak my mind as often as I needed to. The man who taught me how to read, cook, draw and write...my daddy.
And just like that, I found myself in March preparing for the hardest days of my life...and the wound is still fresh, so I cannot say it's gotten easier. I can only say that I am able to write about it, with stinging eyes and a faint smile at the rush of memories...
I open with this story, because this is not something any of my mentors, favorite bloggers, or entrepreneurial heroes and she-roes ever prepared me for.
No one had talked to me about how to keep my business running when my world had stopped. No one ever gave sage advice about making sure my invoices were paid, when I didn't even care about invoices. I had not had the conversation over lunch about what to do when everything around me, including my business, did not feel real.
This wasn't entrepreneurial loneliness, or startup setbacks, or founder failures...this was my absolute real life imploding. And I'd had not one conversation with anyone about how to manage contracts, prospects, leads, current clients, return phone calls and backed up inboxes... this was something that no one had told me about.
Working for yourself, managing your own small business, being a key member of a startup team, being the hardest hustler for your side hustle, means everything rests on you. It means your performance matters, even when you don't feel like performing. When it all rests on your shoulders, you just grow stronger shoulders. That's what they tell you, what they don't tell you is what to do when your shoulders cave in.
I'm not in the position to give much advice on the matter, as I'm still sorting it out myself, but I will offer this: As a small business owner who set out to start and build something that changes the lives of those who change the lives of others, I found that I had to pause myself to care for myself. I've prayed, I've taken my days, and I will continue to take them as needed.
This isn't about taking vacations or joining coaching groups, this is about acknowledging a very real thing that happens to us all, and specifically acknowledging it for those who do not have PTO, sick leave or any other benefit that means you can get paid while you grieve. We must give of ourselves to get the best results for our clients, but we will have nothing (least of all our best) to give if we don't replenish our wells.