In late 2018 I decided it was time for me to sell my business with no plans as to what I would do next. It took a while to execute that change and, as I suspected at that time, it was a big consequential decision. Thanks to excellent coaching and mentorship, last year I made some moves. Here are the 3 big bets, and the 3 big lessons that came along with them…
My 3 big bets in 2022:
A new vision for the farm I’ve owned for 20 years. We envisioned pivoting the business away from events to an agritourism resort.
Grow our residential home staging business Staging Design, which for years had been frustratingly stuck at a plateau of around $1M in revenue. If you’re at this stage you know $1M in revenue is too small to afford the hires you really need but too big not to make the hires.
Launch something completely new with unlimited potential that I could pour my energy into.
Number 1, the farm - failed. We invested 3 years and $500K into amending the zoning necessary for the concept but ultimately could not muster the political support. (more on what we are going to do there later)
Number 2, the staging business - major progress. We bought a new 25,000 sq foot warehouse and launched a national commercial staging division and the business broke through its ceiling.
Number 3, became Alchemy - an exciting success! We’re helping real estate agents all across the country get out of the hustle and build wealth through bookkeeping, tax services, and financial training.
The 3 big lessons:
If you’re ready for something new, you need a compelling vision for the business and also a person to fill a key role. In the case of Alchemy, it was completely new so it was up to me to spark the idea, find customers, and then find people excited about it who could execute it. We moved quickly from “me” to “we” which is key to sustaining growth.
If you’ve plateaued you may need a new but related shiny object to get your mojo back again. In the case of Staging, which was a more mature business, we needed to renew our own enthusiasm about the business and did so by expanding the business to the commercial arena. This immediately energized the team which motivated us to make new investments in space and personnel to execute the plan. The new division breathed new life into the company and everything and everyone has benefited as a result.
If you’ve failed, you better pivot fast. Failure is our best and most valuable teacher, though productively internalizing the lessons from failure is tied to the speed of the pivot. Meaning, that if you sit suspended in disappointment for too long, not only do you lose sight of the valuable lessons from the failure, but you can start to have destructive, repetitive thoughts that personalize the failure and cascade into unrelated areas of your life. i.e. “If this failed, then I must be a failure and everything I do is also going to fail.”
As my 96-year-old Grandma would tell us, life is long, so play it with that in mind, and don’t forget to take a step back and enjoy the view every so often.