"How’s business? Are you back to normal?"
This is the most popular question as of late. The second most popular question is, "Are you open for facials?"
These two frequently asked questions go hand in hand. I will answer the "Are you open for facials?" one first. "Yes," I reply patiently. "Since last August."
I am a tired and weary business owner. Many of my colleagues would agree. We are tired. There are many moments this past year when we have had such creative power, force and energy that tired wasn’t an option. But now that people are coming out again, we are answering seemingly innocent questions like "How’s business?" "Are you back to normal?" and it is like being asked about your fluttering stomach on a boat in the wild seas. Sometimes not talking about it helps ease the sea sickness.
There Is No Normal
Despite the incredible help from our government which I am eternally grateful for, business is not normal. There is no normal. There isn’t even a new normal. I don’t even know what to call where I have landed because if I base the answer to the question on numbers alone, I may as well call it a day. And we are so busy. Breathless busy.
As the blurry eyed consumers who don’t own their own small businesses make their way back out into the world after not being in the trenches with our pivots and re-imaginations, I think there is a sense that the businesses they left behind will be the ones waiting for them now that they have decided to return.
Perhaps in some cases, this will be true for some businesses. In my case, I don’t know. Not because the services can’t be done as they were, but because this year-long pause has not only changed the landscape of my business, but it has radically changed the textures and fabric of me as a human being.
I have used this last year to ask myself one question over and over. What do I want the next ten years of my life to look like?
I have been trying to keep my high touch business afloat for over a year. The employees who have stayed with me have worked harder than I have ever seen in my twenty year history. I have been in awe of them working in 10x10 rooms, three masks deep during a time that the only high touch that should have been happening were visits to the doctor. But, we as a team figured it out and made it work and thankfully didn’t cause a Covid spread.
Proud business mama for sure. My business model was not easy to sustain. But here we are. Here I am. Still standing. This time though, I am not standing with a glittery Wonder Woman cape and glossy lips, but white hair and barely any clothes on. I have bared my soul, stripped myself of much. The employees who decided that I am still the chick they want to follow are here to see what happens at the end of this wild ride we have just gone through. And are still going through.
I am here to see what happens at the end of this wild ride. Not for the money, forget about that. That ship has sailed in my old way of doing business. For me, now it is a curiosity, a study in the experiment of forced imagination. I love the creative juice of all of this chaos. I needed a fire lit beneath my complacent self and I changed everything— out of the ashes… or some saying like that.
Clients are coming in droves. Business is stellar. As soon as I add someone to the schedule, the schedule is full. I feel blessed to have my business be what it is, robust, fulfilling and satisfying.
The difference now though is that I have seen the other side, the side of less, the side of tamping down, slowing down, simplifying. For the first time in my life, I have seen what it feels like to have some time. Time for what? This is the question. Just time. To sit and ponder my life, to see who I am, to feel some semblance of joy for the success and the work. I am like an observer now rather than a participant. I am changed and I like the change.