When the calendar turned to 2017 — just over a year ago — my business was on a record high. I had more people working for me than ever before, I had more business than I knew what to do with, and I worked late nights and weekends just to keep all of the balls in the air. The balance sheet looked better than ever — until it all came crashing down in an instant.
My client, a very large international company whom I had been quite loyal to for MANY years and whom I worked my butt off for because they consistently fed me more and more work, suddenly and without warning, decided to change gears. With just one phone call, 75% of my business was gone. Nothing to do with me, my company, or the caliber of service I was providing. The decision had just been made to go in another direction. They were consolidating all of their social media work with another company and I was being given 30 days notice. No "thank you". No "we're sorry". Nothing. How did they describe some of the wartime attacks — shock and awe? Yes, that would be about the type of reaction I had to this news. Shock and awe.
Over the next 30 days I had to wind down efforts, lay off staff who had been very loyal to me, and try not to sink into a pit of doom and gloom. It probably took me a few days to get over the initial shock, but then I remembered I had bills to pay and a business to nurture, and so I went out and hit the streets and within about 60 days, had my monthly billings back up close to where they were before the bomb hit. The type of business I now had was completely different than before and I now had a roster of varying clients. Things were quite different, but not in a bad way.
My husband (who is also my accountant) looked at my monthly billings at the end of that year and just shook his head. "I don't know how you did it," he said. "Honestly, you were given quite a blow, but you just put your head down and got new business. Wow, you have what they call 'grit,' that's all I can say. What you did was pretty spectacular. I've never seen anything like it."
In hindsight I have to say, the situation was entirely my fault. As a business owner, you know never to have all of your eggs in one basket. Diversity is key, this way if one client goes away, you don't have such a big hit as I did. I knew as it was happening that it was not such a good idea to have so much of my business tied up with one company, but they made it too easy — they loved my work and they just kept throwing more and more work at me because they knew I could get it done and would do a great job. Until those criteria didn't matter anymore.
For quite a while I was bitter over the situation. When I look back I had given up so much of my personal time -- too many nights and weekends -- for a client who had little appreciation for my efforts. And I probably would have kept going on in that manner unless they made the decision for me. With time and distance, I can now see that the universe was giving me a gift. Showing me that the other things I wanted to do with my life and my career, but never had time for, wouldn't wait any longer.
Now over a year later, I can see this was the absolute BEST thing that could have happened to me. When you are at a crossroads, sometimes it's not easy to make a decision to forge ahead in the direction you think you want to go. Sometimes it's easier to take the road paved with gold. But is that ultimately what will make your soul happy?
This display of shock and awe forced me to revisit my lifestyle and my values. Did I really want to work nights and weekends? NOPE. Did I enjoy the work I was doing? NOT REALLY. And now my business is run in an entirely different manner. I don't work nights and weekends any longer. I don't take on clients where I don't have some personal interest in the product or service they represent. I don't work with difficult personalities.
In a nutshell, I now have more respect for myself and my company and the people who work for me. And you know what? I'm now attracting a different breed of client who is more innovative, more inspired, and makes me step out of my box to challenge me on a greater level versus easily doing the same old, same old that I could accomplish in my sleep. I'm doing things I didn't think I would in ways I never would have expected.
Sometimes life forces a change on you you didn't see coming. Instead of fighting it every step of the way, take a moment to stop and embrace it. The entire situation of last year was a gift. Not one I would have asked for as the old me, but one I am happier than ever I received. To the Universe I say: THANK YOU.