The Dark Side

There are most definitely perks to running your own business. Among them are that you are your own boss, you can set your own hours, you can make things look the way you want them to. It’s yours! An expression of your vision, which is a joy and delight.

There are most definitely downsides to (very) small business as well. I don’t dwell on them, but sometimes they come to the forefront and bash you in the forehead.

They are:

  1. You alone are responsible for every little thing that happens within your business, your customers, and your suppliers. Sometimes there is conflict. Sometimes you’re right and can prove it, sometimes you’re wrong and can be proven wrong, and sometimes it’s not clear.

  2. Because there are so many requests/emails/phone calls/people in person to address or greet, there is a feeling that you are always behind on something, which you are. There will never be a day where you can go home and say to yourself, “I got everything done.” And even if you can, the next day comes and that all changes.

  3. There is no monetary reward in a little niche gallery boutique space situated in a place like downtown Sudbury, where much of the population isn’t interested in discovering. You have to be willing to part with some of your capital to keep things alive and choose a living space that is affordable so that you can exact your vision without putting yourself into extreme debt.

  4. There are so many personalities of creatives that sometimes, even if you are a good judge of character, it makes it difficult to intuit who will be simpatico to work with and who will end in tears. Sometimes red flags are ignored in favour of the art. Note to self: never again!

  5. There are so many menial, uninteresting or difficult tasks that need to be done in a day that it can get really depressing. Sometimes these tasks are avoided. Never a good plan, because they are still there the next day and then snowball.

  6. Without a supportive partner at home, just forget it. If your partner doesn’t understand your vision, or doesn’t care about it, or worse firmly doesn’t believe in it, you will fail because that’s just too much to conquer.

  7. Maintaining enthusiasm is a constant chore. Some days it comes easily. More often, you have to do some serious work to find it.

  8. Whatever business you run, you put yourself out there. You make yourself vulnerable. Any one person can damage your business, and even end it, with just one online post or review.

  9. It’s more work than anyone who has never owned a business can imagine. It seems glamourous. It’s mostly not. There are some great days, but if you can’t weather the many not-so-great, then it’s just not for you.

  10. The “why am I doing this to myself?” moments are really tough to move through.

  11. When something like a death in the family happens, no one can know how it stops your world, even if they have been through it, because those who have gone through it aren’t going through it at the same time and we are wired to absorb and forget extreme grief. As a business owner you have to just keep going when you want to just hide and cry and mourn.

And then, the vision returns. A space to be heard through art. A place where everything is made by human hands. Hand to hand. It’s not plastic. It’s not from China. It’s not toxic. You can’t just go buy another one if it gets broken or torn or ruined. It’s not made by a machine and passed off as handmade. It has thought, talent, research, education, creativity, and originality behind it. It’s made by a human and it’s beautiful and has purpose. It elevates. That’s important. In this life filled with strip malls and chain stores that make cities look like every other city everywhere, there is at least one place you can go that treasures and gives voice to the human spirit of divine creativity.