When do you know you made the right choice?

Turn the clock back 5 years, 10 even…ten years ago I was working in hardware in 7 day trading. I didn’t hate my job as such but I did hate the hours and the never ending circle of telling people I couldn’t go out and enjoy myself because I had work the next day. I could only dream of doing a massage course because I couldn’t get the weekends off to do it. 5-6 years ago I had left hardware and was working in paint. Again I didn’t hate my job but I didn’t think very much of the people who ran the company. It was a job that would find you busy up until about lunch time when all the tradies were coming in to get their supplies and leave the rest of the day for you to contemplate what you were actually doing with your life. It did however enable me to do the course I had wanted to do for years as there was minimal weekend trading. Just over 4 years ago I left that job to start my very own business. The thought of having all the money coming in the door going into my pocket was a very handsome thought indeed. The dream Vs reality doesn’t always turn out how you’d expected. It was tough going. I had 2 places I was paying overheads on, work and home. Renting on your own while trying to invest in a small business is not ideal. With rent alone on both places being around $400 per week, I had to do a lot of massages before I would break even. That was just rent, it didn’t include power, fuel, food and everything else which comes with every day living and a small business on top of it. Going back through my diaries of the early days there were weeks where I was only seeing 10-12 clients. I was the new kid on the block with no funding behind me to enable me to do any form of advertising. I hit the pavement with my business cards and a smile, I walked the streets of Moonah dropping cards and discount voucher into every business I came across. I ran into lots of people from my hardware days and started to generate a network. I lost count of the amount of vouchers I gave away trying to generate business. In the early days I was able to shut my doors if I needed to go and work an event without much worry. My client intake wasn’t huge so I just shut up and left. They were still there when I came back. Months turned into a year and I was struggling financially. A good friend of mine who is also in business and wanted to see me succeed gave me a small loan to get me through, and, not only that, let me pay it off whenever I could. That small gesture meant that I could keep my doors open and keep trying. I’m a pretty proud person so accepting that offer wasn’t the easiest thing for me to do but I knew it was make or break so I took it. Things started to get better. I reached out and gained employment at another massage centre to make sure I could make ends meet. It meant a bit of running around but it had to be done. I started to make really strong connections with people and even better, people liked my massage and started referring their friends, family, co workers. The business was building. However, there were still periods of time where I would have a quiet month and start to worry about finances and how I was going to get through. Let me tell you, when you are in small business you are always thinking about finances, you eat those thoughts for breakfast lunch and tea and while most people go to bed and sleep you lay there for hours with ides running through your head about how you can do better or for example like I did last night realised at 11:30pm that I had forgotten to pay the car rego! Luckily I remembered 2 days early and I wasn’t driving an unregistered car after all. I ended up moving into the business for 18 months to make sure I could continue to grow. I would happily say that living and working in the same building is possibly the worst existence I have endured, it wasn’t much fun at all but I had a roof over my head so all was good. Skip forward a couple of years to now. My client base is well over 500 with no signs of slowing down. I no longer go week to week worrying about how I’m going to pay the next bill that comes past my desk. I have been amazingly lucky throughout the last 4 years to meet some amazing people who are both clients and some now close friends. My best friend for example arrived on my table in the first year of working. Little did she know that I held total resentment towards her because she was such an awesome athlete. Of course she knows that now and it’s a bit of a joke but I am so glad she got referred to me that day because she actually helped me transform my life. I was also lucky enough to meet my partner through work. We had a mutual friend and met at a multi sport event and the relationship just grew from there. She has been such an amazing support to me over the past 3 years on so many levels and time and time again when I have felt like I wasn’t going to make it in business, just gave me that little bit of confidence I needed to get me through. She also put a roof over my head and allowed me to forget about household finances and just concentrate on the business. Today I sit here writing this with my calendar open in the background looking super full week after week. The move from Maxwell Street early in the year to Albert road would prove to be pivotal in the growth of the business. I don’t think I have ever seen so many cars in one day drive up and down a street, it’s amazingly busy and the position is perfect. The building was large enough for me to build the 2nd treatment room and lucky for me Jodie landed on my door step without me having to find her. It has worked out perfectly. The phone doesn’t stop ringing, footy season is coming to an end and we will swap our footballers for athletics clients. It’s been tough, sleepless nights, stressful days, but also it has been a wonderful journey meeting amazing people and watching as a dream slowly became reality. Next year I am planning to go to Vietnam, my first ever overseas trip. I will take the time off but our doors will remain open. And that my friends is how you know you made the right choice and you know the best part? I don’t have to apply for holidays, I don’t have to wait for permission. I will find a time that suits us, I will book and I will explore. Don’t be scared to chase a dream, it might be tough initially but hang in there and it will all work out in the end.

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