When Life Closes a Door

Opens a WindowAs a small business owner and marketing consultant, there are days when I miss the security of having a salaried job.  Every role I have had, I have gone into each day with hard work, and the desire to prove myself valuable to my employer.  I’m one of those people who has always taken pride in making things better, finding new ways to do things, and excelling at whatever tasks were given to me.  I always want to be better, do more and I guess be respected too, as someone who makes a difference and can be relied upon to do a great job.

In the world of contract marketing, things are challenging. There are agencies who spend thousands a month advertising, and who kill it, landing large clients.  With a staff of five or more on salary, could I build an agency? Yes, absolutely. But my business isn’t there yet.  Someday, just not right now, and since I can’t compete with big budget advertisers, my angle has always been the same; work hard, offer value, innovate and give great customer service.

Yesterday I took a very rare “day off”.  It wasn’t really a day off, despite my “out of office” status. That’s okay, because that comes with the territory when you own your own business.  I understand that.  But halfway through the day, I got a message from a client that I have served very well, and consistently over-delivered to, that they wanted to go in a new direction.  This can happen anytime you work as a consultant, and while I used to be devastated when a client leaves or changes direction, over time I’ve learned that it’s really just about business. The truth is, most of my clients stay with me for well over a year, which by industry standards, is very good.

So I lost my appetite for lunch, but put on a happy face for the kids.  We talked about financing, since we are in the middle of trying to buy a house. Timing right?  Work hard and you get ahead, but you can’t predict shifts like this.  And that habit of over delivering?  That’s being evaluated very carefully right now into a fee structure that truly pays me better for my time.  I need to think more like a large agency.  “Graphic request? Sure! That will be $____ as it is an added service,” versus “Sure, I’ll do that for you for free, because I want you to value me.”  It turns out that the extra effort isn’t rewarded, I lose time and end up working for free far more often than I should.  And that’s the people-pleasing side of me that needs some auditing, if I am going to rock my business, and be fairly compensated for my time.

Can I just cut that “people pleasing” need out of me?  Socially and in business, I’m not sure it gets me further ahead.  But the clients I work with who value my time, they sure appreciate it and think it’s extraordinary.  And marketing professionals who don’t have that client care approach, tend to have a revolving door when it comes to retention.  It’s a business mystery I’ll continue hacking away at.  I’m still learning, and I don’t want to be the sort of consultant that nickle and dimes clients to death either.  The balance exists, I am sure.

So last night I went to bed feeling jaded and a bit beat up.  We’ve been working so hard to get into a small starter home, and I felt like again, the rug was pulled out at the worst possible time.  But that kind of thinking gets you no where right? This morning I woke up to two goofy dogs laying on me, my husband rested and refreshed with a smile, and a brand new day full of possibilities.  I’m smart, hardworking, a talented brand manager and prolific content writer, in a world full of people looking for my affordable services.  Onward and upward, brave writer girl!  We have a house to buy.

My first call of the day was to an amazing non-profit that I assisted for an event this weekend.  The CEO’s comments were music to my tired heart.  “Your social media coverage put us in front of everyone, and there were so many connects, comments and sponsors who noticed us… we are so excited to work with you Lori”.  I needed that, so badly this morning.  And her contract? Almost the exact same as the long term client that is resigning their service with me in four weeks. Coincidence?  No way… there has to be something more to the synchronicity of it.

Last night I prayed. “God, we’re trying so hard.  We’re working double time, being diligent and honest in our businesses, providing great service and seeking growth opportunities.  The kids are thriving.  We’re living small into our financial goals and making progress.  I know this is part of business, but it still hurts a little when the timing couldn’t be worse.   Please help me be brave, dynamic, confident and resourceful and grow my business so that we can continue to build this little life we love so much.”

Twelve hours later, He opened a window.  Again.

We always focus on Karma as a vindictive action in the Universe.  Do bad, bad things will come back to you.  That’s a negative if you think about it, when Karma is an equally positive force in life, and one that should be praised, taught more often and appreciated.   Do good, work hard, be smart and kind, be generous and honest … and even when it looks bad, something will present itself.  I’m learning to trust the process of business, a good reputation in my industry, my amazing professional network and my stubborn persistence.

When I was ten years old, my Father told me that I was an “artistic flake”, and that I would never make a living as a writer.  I told him that my dream job was writing all day long, in a quiet place with my dog.  Thirty-two years later, my dream job is still “writing in a quiet place all day long with my dog(s).   And with the support of an amazing husband who believes in my talent, my business and my drive (who never allows me to give up on that dream), I have realized it, after all these years.

Writers are born. The insensitive business world may tear us to shreds from time to time, but we’re in demand.  For all its challenges, this small business (which is now growing with my sister Kim) is my dream job, allowing me to work with amazing brands, non-profits and professionals around the world.  A second new client is having me write YouTube viral video scripts now (which is so much fun!) and the ebb and flow of a contract writer/social media know-it-all continues.  Writer girl has got this … and on slower days, manages to think about how much adversity she has conquered and how proud she is of herself… for never giving up.

Because you know what? He always opens a window, if you ask for help.  And sometimes all He asks is that you keep trying, and never quit.