entrepreneur

Busy is a Blessing

It’s b6a696ed0eb058faacc909f2b48a04f48een a little over a year since we quit our office jobs and jumped into our business with both feet. In the beginning, the workload was light, every small success was exciting, and we envisioned a laid-back, beach-filled future where we outsourced most of the hard stuff to other people and managed from afar. We pictured freedom, happiness, and bliss.

What we’ve learned, though, is that when it comes to being self-employed, things are always complicated.

It turns out that the hard stuff makes the most money; small successes and growth come with a heavy workload and re-adjustment period; people are difficult to manage, and good people are even more difficult to find. We’ve discovered that every seemingly small choice and action are multi-faceted, and each decision carves out where our business is headed and who we are as a company.

In the midst of the busy fire, it’s easy for us to get lost in the crazy and forget that we want this. We worked for it, prayed for it, and sought it out – and we got it. Yet, it’s still hard to step back and reflect on how far we’ve come, and how we dreamed of being this busy back in the beginning.

Our personal goal is to keep in mind that busyness is a blessing, and that we are grateful for every small step forward – no matter how complicated it might be.

 

 

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Wedding

Navigating the Wedding World

31429615_10216670143173928_7583722362701348864_nA few short months ago, the love of my life got down on one knee. It was better than I could have dreamed; we went on a hike through the Hawaiian jungle, into a valley underneath weeping Koolau Mountains and surrounded by butterflies, silence, and greenery. Everything he said was beautiful and perfect, and I fell even deeper in love with this man that I would soon get to marry.

Our engagement was idyllic, but being engaged – not so much. Immediately, excited friends and family honed in. When is the wedding? Where will it be? What are your colors? Your theme? At my wedding, we….

I know they didn’t intend to swarm, but that’s what it felt like. I felt like I was already behind a mere day after we got engaged, since I had no clue how to plan a wedding. I’m a pretty simple, outdoorsy gal – I didn’t even have a pinterest board remotely close to weddings until the proposal. I felt like everyone was watching, and waiting, and wondering why it was taking us so long to figure it out.

Thankfully, my fiancée (I get to use that word now!) stepped in and saved the day. He set a date that we would begin planning, and kindly informed everyone in our lives that we wouldn’t be making any decisions until then. We had some time to think, and breathe, and discuss our future marriage and plans and kids. We had time to actually enjoy being engaged to one another.

I loved this magical time where I knew the wedding was coming, but there was no planning to do. No tasks, no checklists, no due dates. Just love, and joy, and incredible happiness.

Like most magical moments, though, our unhindered bliss couldn’t last forever. Our planning day came, and we bravely stepped into the wedding world. We researched venues, defined our style, made a budget. Since we own a business together, planning was no big deal for us. We knew we could do it.

Now that we’re ankles-deep in the planning process, we’re encountering a lot of the ‘swarm’. Friends and family we love and look up to want us to invite so-and-so, and include this and that, and we have to do this, and it’s not really a wedding if…

Not to mention all of the TERRIFYING articles online on what really ‘makes’ a wedding.

Honestly, though, we’re both taking a stand against it all.  We’re both outdoorsy, adventurous, simple people. We’re not into expensive wines, luxury fabrics, lush flowers, sparkles or events. We want to create a ceremony and reception that represents and compliments who we are, and that our closest friends and family can enjoy.

I’ve been to a lot of weddings, and I pretty much never recall what kind of flowers or centerpieces were there, or even the entrée selection or premium wine list. I remember the people that married, and the love they shared, and the fun I had.

That’s what I want my guests (and us) to remember.

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entrepreneur

Entrepreneurial Thoughts: Saying NO

Entrepreneurs are generally thought of as ‘Yes’ people. They saw an opportunity, they said yes, and followed through to self-made success. Even in speeches and webinars and books, that first ‘yes’ is always referenced as ‘the beginning of it all’. If I hadn’t said yes…

You get the picture.

For us, we said yes many times in the early days of our business. We said yes to our opportunity, we said yes as we opened corporate bank accounts, filed for a state tax id, met with a (free) lawyer and designed our logo. We said yes to tough questions from those around us, too.

Are you sure you want to leave this job? You have a real future here… 

Are you sure this will work?

Do you have any idea what you’re doing? 

Yes, yes, and yes. Yet, as we progressed as a company, we found ourselves saying ‘no’ much more than yes. We had old friends we barely spoke to that wanted to be a part of our business; acquaintances that wanted to help; companies that wanted to purchase our little seedling of a business before it had a chance to blossom. We said no to professional ‘small business advisors’, to corporate bank loans, to people, to other opportunities, to new accounts, to sizeable amounts of money that would cost us any potential we had. No, No, No, No, No.

Every No is what shaped and strengthened our business into the small, albeit strong fortress it is today. Every no was us standing our ground, defining our business under its own terms. Those No’s define what services we do and don’t provide; what we are willing and aren’t willing to do; the kind of clients we want to work with; how we handle conflict; and who we are as a company.

Even if you’re not an entrepreneur, you have so much power in the word ‘no’. So many people in each of our lives – especially those that know us well – often ask questions in full expectation of a yes. But no matter who is asking or what they’re asking for, you have a divine right to say no.

No, this doesn’t serve me. No, I can’t do it. No, my plate is already full right now. No.

You deserve your own boundaries, space, and peace – entrepreneur or not.

spiritual

I Miss Being a Missionary

Last summer, I took a gigantic leap of faith. It kept me up many nights, wound its way into nearly every conversation with friends and family, and encompassed my thoughts for months on end. The question was simple:

Should I go on a mission trip to Nepal?

When my aunt asked me about going, my immediate answer was an enthusiastic YES. Of course I would go to Nepal, on a mission trip, with my aunt and three cousins. YES, YES YES!

As time passed, however, I began to unravel what that yes would mean. My boyfriend and I had just quit our careers and started a small business together, which was growing rapidly and took up the majority of our day, every day. I had only recently began going to church in the last two years or so, and had even more recently accepted Jesus into my life. The answer to one question – should I go to Nepal? – led to many more questions, which dug very deep into my faith and self-worth.

Can my business survive my absence for two weeks? Can my relationship survive my absence for two weeks and double the workload? Am I a good enough person to do this? Am I qualified? Am I ‘Christian’ enough? Will everyone think I’m an imposter?

I did not grow up going to church every Sunday. I was not a youth pastor or leader, nor had I made regular appearances at small group. I thought that my dark past and former life would make me the weakest link of our group, the odd one out that wasn’t really qualified to work for God.

I was terrified, but I stood by my YES, raised the money, and prayed.

When I met our team, I fell in love. I clicked with everyone right away, and immediately felt warmth, love, and acceptance. I still had my insecurities and fears, and I hoped they would slowly rescind as we started working.

What happened was the opposite – they grew very loud, and then went silent. I worked through each of them like a puzzle, recognizing the small signs and miracles God was working through me. I discovered that my past and weaknesses and scars made me stronger, more sincere, and easier to connect with – they were, in fact, my strengths.

I have never found my feet more beautiful, my steps more purposeful, or my days more blessed than those hot, unpredictable, chaotic days in Nepal. I discovered more about myself and my purpose in those two weeks than I had in my entire life. I could finally see myself clearly, as if I could step away from my life and peer at it through God’s eyes.

I saw my humility, my beauty, my heart, my power. I loved every minute of it, and still reflect on those days. I miss my team with all of my heart. I truly miss our late-night prayers and psalms and self-reflection, and I’m eternally grateful for this experience. I miss it, every day.

So yes, I was qualified and ‘Christian’ enough – because that’s not really a thing. We are all anointed to do the Good Works, y’all. And yes, my business and relationship survived my absence – in fact, they both blossomed. Months later, we’re still struggling to keep up with our growing business, and thankful to God for every client and encounter that comes our way.

Where God guides, he DOES provide. In bringing me closer to Him, he’s brought my dreams closer to me.

THANK YOU.

Thoughts

Entrepreneurial Thoughts: TAXES

I’ve encountered some scary situations in adult life, but none have been as daunting as filing corporate taxes for my small business. It’s our first official calendar year, and we handed over our beloved binder of taped and scanned receipts, expenses, and hand written notes to our CPA. We do all of our own accounting, but since we’ve never filed corporate year-end, we hired an affordable CPA willing to help guide a small business through this hurdle of terror.

As we walked away from his office, we found ourselves relieved. Little fear, no anxiety – just general curiosity about what we’d hear back from the IRS. We’d budgeted and prepared for this every day for the last year, and kept meticulous records of every penny we spent and earned. We knew this was coming, and we were as ready as we could be.

Ironically, many people in both our personal and professional lives had warned us about his moment. They told us that we would never be able to handle our own accounting; we weren’t disciplined, experienced, or possibly capable of running our own show. It was too difficult (it wasn’t), a CPA would be way too expensive (he wasn’t) and the business itself would be too confusing (it wasn’t).

2160c8ba6a06427711207386e42aeb10We had people we both respected and trusted tell us firmly, even aggressively, that we’d never make it out alive. Yet, here we are – moving along into the next year with year-end taxes being a small financial and clerical blip on the radar. I wasn’t sure if I felt lied to, or misguided. Why had people discouraged us so vehemently?

I realized that when you have an idea or new business, you have to be very careful who you listen to. We’ve always been open to advice – in fact, we still are – but this journey has taught me that people can be very defensive of the path they’ve chosen. When they’ve spent 15 years climbing the corporate ladder and you decide to deviate from the status quo and build a set of stairs, a few feathers can easily be ruffled.

Keep in mind that how people meet your idea or new business says more about them than it does about you. Maybe they are terrified of accounting and taxes, and that has deterred them from starting their own business. Or they’ve even had a bad (or terrible) experience with a CPA or the IRS, and are dutifully passing that information on to you to help you escape a similar fate. Or, they might be upset that you’ve chosen to reject the status quo when that status quo is their life – their past, their future, their choices.

Whether you’ve been building your own business for years or considering starting, there’s two things I’ve learned in this first year:

  1. anything is possible with enough research and phone calls
  2. No one – literally no one – really knows what they’re doing.

So, you might as well pursue your dreams – taxes and all.

 

 

 

Running

Yoga for Neck & Back Injuries

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As a runner, I’ve learned the hard way that stretching & recovery play just as important as a role in training as the actual runs. What we do after & between each run is equally as curcial (if not more) than the days we hit the road, trail, or treadmill.

Thanks to running, I’ve fallen in love with yoga. I actually look forward to it now on my days off and later in the day on my long runs – it stretches me out and eases the pain that takes over if I don’t sprawl out on my mat. Especially since I surf, too, which is far from easy on my back, most of my aches and pains are in the neck/back/oblique area.

These are my three favorite, easy-peasy, go-to videos for stretching out my neck & back. They alleviate the tension & pressure that build up from all my activities and help me start the day feeling energized, refreshed, & zenned out.

I usually do them in this order (the last one’s the most difficult) and they take around 45 minutes all together.

What are your favorite yoga routines for post-run recovery?

Running · Veg/Vegan

PSA: Instagram is Not Real

How often do you see photos like this on Instagram? Big booty, tight waist, strong arms – but is it real? As someone that’s been hardcore into fitness for 5+ years, I couldn’t understand these images that  kept appearing on my feed – until I played around in front of the mirror and realized its just posing. Booty popped, an awkward twist in the waist, good lighting and a little bit of dehydration and BAM – insta-model approved.

I didn’t grow up in the age of Instagram, so I worry so much about the women and girls that see these images and believe they’re real life. I would never stand, sit, pose, squat or appear this way in person,  so while the photo is me, it is not TRUE TO LIFE. In simple terms, it’s not real.

Instagram can be a great place to showcase and normalize all kinds of bodies, which is why I personally choose to show photos of mine. But when you’re scrolling through your feed and come across an image that seems unachievable, keep these key points in mind:

1.      No two bodies are the same. Even if you eat, sleep, and train exactly like the girl in the picture, it is physically impossible for you to achieve the exact same results because of your (and her) unique size, shape, genes, body composition and metabolism.

2.      These images are often the result of perfect lighting, careful posing, angles, retouching, and even photoshop – not perfect people.

3.      Most of these people are professional models/bodybuilders/personal trainers, whose job is to be fit and look the part. You wouldn’t compare your ability to cook to that of a professional chef, right? So you can’t compare your body to someone who’s full time job is fitness.

4.      Most of these images are selling something. They are carefully curated to represent an ideal that’s unlikely (or impossible) to achieve in order to promote the protein powder/leggings/detox tea/personal training services being offered.

5.      Instagram is a highlight real. It does not, and cannot, depict real life.

6.      Everyone can physically, mentally, and emotionally benefit from exercise, regardless of their weight, size, shape, age, gender, ability, etc. Do not let the images on Instagram deter you from doing something great for you and your body, if that’s what you chose.

7.      Let me repeat it one more time: fitness is for and benefits EVERY BODY.

Okay, rant over.