Fit For Business

Fitness Friday: Fit for business.

 

I saw a quote circulating on social media “You can’t do business with everybody because everybody isn’t doing business”.

 

I don’t know the context for that quote or it is attributed to for certain.  Used on social media in an isolated, decontextualized, and seemingly self-aggrandizing for the sharer (and certain types of business), this quote made me incredibly uncomfortable.  Within the statement is the suggestion that there is one “right” way to do business, which is “shoulding”, shaming, and patronizing.  Ableism is pronounced and centered, followed by what could be interpreted as capitalistic and other oppressive (ie misogynistic, racist) attitudes, all of which are conglomerate of related, interlocking harms.

 

People will (hopefully and with some privilege) build and grow businesses to meet them where they are, rather than the reverse; that is, rather than building businesses that perpetuate toxic productivity models. Parents, people with disability, people with marginalized identities, and/or people with marginalized offerings (like sexuality counseling) might have to take a more self-directed and collective-healing- focused approach toward business, with models of working that do not fit the standard or established norms and expectations.  Those with hierarchical, binary (either/or), colonialized mindsets may rank these differences as less-than (less serious, less worthy, less “good”) rather than seeing intention and nuance behind crafting a model of work that fits the individual where they are for their individual and community needs.

 

Synchronous with reading the quote were conversations I was having with a mentor.  The mentor  advised me that to grow a business and do things “correctly” (ie a relative of right and should), I needed to focus on marketing.  Marketing as in social media content, networking, website design, etc.  I do not have a marketing or business degree or graphic design training.  Despite the advice being slightly unrealistic from a training perspective and also unsolicited at that time, it suggests that to do my work well, I should not be focusing my time on my actual work, but something else entirely and something that feels entirely superficial.

 

My actual work? I work one on one or in small groups to help clients and our/their community find their vision for themselves (through movement, spiritual practices, sexuality counseling, nature, and community connection). Substantive, time intensive, and holistically rich, we (my client and I) produce qualitative life change for my clients.  These efforts along with my own needs and those of my family, leave me with little time to market myself or play and promote on social media (which, by the way, does not often benefit small business with purchases or clients.  Social media play does benefit those social media entities through advertising for them and creating content for these entities for free….I’m kind of over giving away my labor for free).

 

Here is the rub for me of all of this for me, the quote and the misguided advice:  I built my business to fit my lifestyle, my needs, and my clients’ needs.  I have young children with demanding schedules and several chronic conditions which result in fatigue, neurodivergence-like presentation, and autonomic nervous system dysfunction, so I have to be impeccable with my stress and time management.  I can’t and won’t push myself to the expected point of collapse, or hover over my emails to respond in minutes, or hustle my ass off trying to recruit just.one.more.class.participant.  I am not available for last minute appointments or requests to attend events.  It does not mean that I do not take my work seriously or I “shouldn’t” do this work.  I do business differently, and I expect many with health conditions (such as disability or neurodivergence), caregiving needs, or marginalized identities (from the trauma of and lost energy to  oppressive systems) do as well.  I am doing the best I can with what I have available, I serve my clients with authenticity and depth, and I am not any less serious about my work than the next business owner.  My focus is not maxing my profit, but instead it is tuned into the quality of work I do while caring for my own needs, all from an abundance mentality – I trust in the work, the clients I serve, and my ability to serve them.  What I do is not a hobby; it is a business that I am fiercely proud of.  It is just not a style of business that is familiar to many.

 

If you are a small business owner, how do you find balance?  Have you faced others “should”ing you into more familiar (and also toxic) models of grind culture? How do you use your small business to challenge systems of oppression and capitalistic models of scarcity and want?

 

Thanks for reading, community.  Wishing you all well this Friday.

 

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Written by Dr. Allison Mitch, wellness practitioner working to awaken and re-center joy and pleasure through Ignite Well-being. PT (DPT), CHEK practitioner, RYT500, sexuality counselor and educator; copyright protected, please cite accordingly.

The image is from Pexels.

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