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I met up with a dear friend of mine last week to talk about her decision to close her business. I thought I might bolster her spirits, but I didn’t have to. My friend was fine, in fact, she was feeling better than she had in months. That’s how I knew this was the right move for her.

We met years ago when we were both newlyweds, before we had kids — dreamers, but practical. She had just gotten out of the military and was starting her civilian career. Our families grew, we moved to different areas of the DMV, but kept in touch. As long as I’ve known her, she has loved fashion. So I wasn’t surprised when she bought her boutique; I knew she would kill it.

We met at networking events and talked about all the things we didn’t know we didn’t know. Neither of us came from a business background. When I started Alejo I had no idea what “business” really meant. You see, I knew/know storytelling and video, crafting a vision and turning it into reality, but I didn’t know the business of being IN business. That lack of knowledge led to mistakes, some of which were costly. I pride myself on learning from my mistakes and I tried to move on. But self-doubt crept in, and quickly! I had no idea how quickly. Or how many sleepless nights I suffered through because of anxiety — am I doing the right thing? What could I have done better? What example am I showing my kids? What is retirement going to look like? Sometimes the issues that caused my anxiety were way out of my control — the weather, taxes, my client’s schedule, Covid! It can be so overwhelming.

My friend had no way of knowing that her employees wouldn’t return. Some because of health reasons, some because life had other plans. Suddenly my friend was working all the time doing everything, working in her business more than working on it.  She was working so much and so hard that her dream became a nightmare.

We start a business because we have a passion. But when your business becomes something you dread, it’s time to stop.
And that’s what happened to my friend. She was tired. So very tired of doing everything, trying to be everything to everyone. Not to mention being a wife, mother and friend. Talking to my friend I could tell she was at peace with her decision. She was happy, she felt like a huge weight had been lifted. And she had ideas on how to rekindle her love of fashion. She has already thought through what it will take to keep her dream alive, but in a different, smaller way. One with way more potential.

I am so proud of her! I am proud of her for recognizing her dream had changed. I’m proud of her for dreaming a new dream. I’m proud that she put herself first. A lot of business owners don’t, especially women. We work and work and work, trying so very hard to make our dream real, make that square peg fit into the round hole. It wears us down; it wears our families down. But the smart entrepreneur knows that sometimes dreams must change, sometimes new ideas work better, sometimes the new dream is better than the old. Don’t stick with an idea that isn’t working just because you have spent so much time trying to make it work.

My friend knew and understood this. Soon she will begin work on a new dream and this time she really does know what she didn’t know. And that’s half the battle.

(Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels)
(Photo by Tara Winstead from Pexels)