Sunday, October 25, 2009

What is Your Why?

I serendipitously started a class this week with an entrepreneurial women's group called SMARTY. This week's homework assignment is to ask ourselves, "what is our why" for going into business on our own. As a cash flow crisis brought on by the loss of a client this month has me searching for full-time work at 2am on a Saturday, I just realized my why. I'll share that in a second but first want to say how I even came to be in this class because it's pretty incredible.

When I learned via a harsh email on Monday that I lost a client, my best friend (who happens to be a budding Yoga Therapist) shot over to my apartment to comfort me. As soon as she walked in the door, I asked for her to guide me in a yoga series to help me through the pain of my first real "failure" as an entrepreneur. I use quotation marks because failure is code for opportunity, growth and powerful lessons. But at that moment it was more like a swift punch in the stomach.

During the gentle movement and meditative exercises we did for 10 minutes, I asked to be open to whatever was in store for me next. After all, everything happens for a reason, right? During our brief practice, my friend received an email from a contact of hers offering a spot in the class which started the very next day. Because she was reading the email in my apartment, I was able to jump in and say what an amazing opportunity that sounded like, and she was generous enough to let me take the spot. So, for four Wednesday nights I get to meet with seven other women entrepreneurs in cozy armoires at a day spa in Costa Mesa to share experiences, insights and learn from a well-thought out curriculum. The first class was already amazing.

Our homework:

"Why do you want to do what you are pursuing? What does you doing THIS thing mean in the bigger context? Bring your WHY to class in your head or on paper. Knowing it will also help you get through the some of the harder moments in business."

I realized my why when I started dredging through the PR jobs on craigslist in search of something full-time. The moment of clarity struck as I read yet another post full of skills and requirements, low on pay - the only job I saw relevant to my skill set that night was a marketing/PR job for a Korean game manufacturer. I started thinking how I'm pretty much against video games - at least the violent ones - and I didn't want to contribute to something I don't believe in. Especially if it's full-time and at the cost of focusing on my new business. Ah ha!

My why for going into business for myself is that I want to apply my talents, skills and energy to something I believe in. In other words, I want to choose my clients. I chose green companies as my niche because I’ve always had a thing for the environment (my college thesis was on American attitudes toward nature). In other words, I heart nature.

It’s really hard to get behind something that you either feel nothing for, or worse, despise. This was the case at my last agency job. While I was fortunate enough to work on a few alternative energy accounts, there were some clients I worked for who did things I wanted nothing to do with, such as building dams, mining for limestone, manufacturing chemicals, drilling for oil and slaughtering animals. Actually, I did want something to do with them - in the form of stopping them!

I used to think, how could I, Miss Treehugger/Protestor, become a corporate flak for evil companies?! Well, maybe I’m exaggerating about the evil part, but that is what it felt like to me at times. What got me through the disgust I would sometimes feel looking through dam-builder brochures was the knowledge that I was learning new skills - transferable skills - that eventually I could use for good. I knew that while at the time I was working for less-than-desirable clients, one day I would get to apply those skills to companies and causes that were actually doing good things in the world. Fortunately that moment came sooner than later when an unexpected lay-off pushed me head-first into starting my business.

And that's what CraterCom is to me - it's my chance to consciously choose where my energy and efforts go. I'll still keep an eye out for full-time work, but my real effort will go into finding the next green business to go after. As the homework assignment says, knowing your why helps you get through the harder moments in business. Losing my first client (and thereby rent money) definitely counts as a hard moment, but fortunately I have my class (and movement) to help me through it. And as I said in my first post, one of the most essential things in the early phase of running a business is having a support system of positive people. In other words, thank goodness for my peeps!

1 comment:

  1. Oh Amanda, your words are pure inspiration. I am so happy that I am able to reach out and help you with Yoga and Meditation, please know that you are always welcome to ask for my guidance. I might have helped lead you that day, but know that you did all the rest yourself, and really found your "power" within. I am so proud of you and all your achievements, insights, and beauty. Thank you for being you! You are the best- best friend I could have ever asked for. Keep up the good work!