the upspeak collective
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Going Steady

 
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When I started my business I did it for extra cash. I had recently taken a huge pay cut (like 40%) to work for a company that I was passionate about. I felt like doing photoshoots (which I had done for years) and supporting small businesses with their goals would be a fun way to supplement my income. I had spent most of my career supporting other business owners and companies as they grew and I knew a little bit about the things that tend to matter to entrepreneurs. For instance, they care a lot about:

+ having more time for themselves

+ consistent growth

+ happy teams

+ an active & relevant social media presence

+ greater organization

+ clear goals

+ having a person they can trust close by to talk to

+ feeling appreciated

I believed (and still do) that I could support people with those things. My degree in Organizational Management along with over 15 years in supervisory & management roles of various kinds as well as my yoga teacher certification gives me a set of skills that are a practical magic of sorts. My consulting is grounded in experience but full of inspiration and possibility.

I always knew "someday" I would jump in full-time. Here's the thing about me - I struggle with NOT being all in. I was all in for my day job and only dipping my toes into my own business. That was ok with me temporarily, but when things shifted at my day job, I made the decision to focus 100% on my own business and it felt a lot like telling someone you love them for the first time.

I was standing in front of my business with a shaky voice, asking it to go steady and hoping to god it would say yes.

I knew pretty quickly after starting The Upspeak Collective (which used to be Flourish Cleveland) that it could replace my income. When I say "I knew" what I really mean is "It seemed entirely possible" because I was so damn passionate about it and I had created a business around the things I'm good at (this is KEY). Pretty soon that was confirmed and it gave me the extra confidence I needed to go steady with Upspeak. Almost 1 month into this adventure, I feel like it's one of the best decisions I've ever made.

I'm creating my dream job with each day that passes. 10am manicure? Ok. Sitting in the sun with the dogs and having a cup of coffee at 1 in the afternoon? Sure! Lunch with a best friend? I can pencil that in! There's no one to check with. There's no one to answer to. It's all me. I often hear people say, "I've never worked so hard in all my life!" after they start their own business. I get it because it really can be an insane amount of work, but I'm realizing I've always acted like whatever company I've worked for was "my business". I was constantly figuring out ways to make them more money, hire and keep the best people, organize and elevate their physical space, offer the very best in customer service, etc. - I don't know that I've ever really "just worked for another person". I'm doing much of the same things I've always done for others but I'm doing them for myself now which makes me feel a bit more relaxed about the whole thing. Turns out I'm a really loving boss. Sure, sometimes I stay up late working on my laptop in bed but typically only because I slept in a bit that morning and took a bubble bath.

I'm working really hard to make sure my business operates in a way that serves me and not the opposite. Too often those of us who are driven & hard workers end up on a runaway train of tasks that leaves us high and dry and regretting the day we said yes to being business owners. I've seen this happen over and over and I'm committed to making my business burnout-proof.

The big key (like in any relationship honestly) is boundaries. I'm going steady with Upspeak and We're in the honeymoon phase right now, but I know all too well that honeymoons don't last forever.

I'm looking down the road at what potential obstacles I may face and, because I want this relationship to work long-term, I'm creating a schedule and efficient work practices NOW that will take care of me as I scale. I took that sage piece of advice about hiring help before you really think you need it. I say no to partnerships that I'm not 100% excited about. I set clear boundaries around the scope of my work from day 1 and revisit them throughout the process of working with someone new. I schedule time in my week to write and do the stuff that lights me up. I commit to organization like it's a "make or break" practice because I truly believe it is.

If you're interested at all in learning how to do this for your own business, reach out! I love chatting with business owners about the dreams and hurdles they are facing. Everything is more manageable when you have a partner. xo

meganleewitt@gmail.com

 
Meg Witt