So you've got a great business idea or you have a talent or passion and you want to make a business out of it...GREAT! Prepare for the hardest road of your life! Starting your own business is a challenge, but there are so many things and obstacles that you encounter along the way that it almost seems as if the world is conspiring against you. Yes, starting your own business is hard, but whatever idea of "hard" you have in your head, multiply that by at least 10 if you have a business partner. If you are in it by yourself, multiply it by at least 100. There is so much that other business owners don't tell you to look out for, and part of that may be because it was so traumatic or difficult for them that they simply blocked it out of their memory, and for good reason! I wanted to take this time to share just some of the challenges we have encountered along our business ownership journey!
So our business venture began with the idea of building a wellness center in Costa Rica and that is a monster in and of itself. I won't get into all of the detail here because this is a whole other discussion. Just know that we didn't just randomly decide to chase this idea, it all happended so serendipitously and the opportunity just fell into our lap from the universe and made us realize we would be silly not to do this. We met the right people and had the support of 20-30 friends that were all professionals in all the fields that we would need help from to launch this such as finance, engineering, landscape architecture, medical, education, the list goes on and on. We had it all figured out and business plan was finalized and had meetings setup with investors, we had it all mapped out. Then, COVID happened!
As with every other business in the world, COVID forced us to pivot. The timing really couldn't have been worse, I had just quit my stable steady job at UPS to focus on this full time and had a stash in savings we were planning on living off of until we would start running retreats. We had just gotten married in Costa Rica on leap day and then as soon as we got back to the states the whole world started to lock down. So now we were not able to bring investors down to tour the property. Then in April my wife was laid off from her job which really made things tight, but we were still confident and had all the faith in the world we would make it work. We were all in and this point!
The travel restrictions really made us rethink our business strategy and highlighted the need to expand our online presence. So we began to build a website and started our social media accounts for the business. Now my whole life I had been against social media and didn't have any personal accounts of my own, and my wife wasn't really that big on it either. So this was a daunting task to launch all of these accounts across various platforms and get over the learning curve of figuring out how to even work them, let alone getting over the fear and vulnerability of putting ourselves out there, trying to post everyday, write good captions, etc. I will admit, Gary V. was a huge help here and gave us the encouragement to just start posting. The website wasn't so bad at this time because we were essentially just structuring it to be a landing page for our investors and future interested clients to learn about us and the Costa Rica project. But the social media aspect has been a pain from the very beginning. When we first began to attempt to grow our Instagram account we were faced with many restrictions and issues. We were engaging so much that IG began to think we were a third-party robot and began to shadow-ban us and put us in IG jail. This happened several times and you can imagine how frustrating this was when you are just starting out trying to grow your business presence.
We even bought a social media planning app called Post Apphi and it worked for about a month and then they stopped working and went under. Then we tried another app called Dollar Eighty and that worked for about a month and then IG removed the "recent" hashtags due to the presidential election which caused that app to no longer function as intended because it was based on recent hashtag activity. Then with the following we did have we just weren't getting hardly any engagement, with 1600 followers we were only seeing between 30-40 likes per post where we were seeing similar accounts with lower quality content getting 100 or more. It just didn't make sense to us and became very frustrating. There is so much more to talk about here that virtually makes social media the bane of our existence, but I digress, I'm getting ahead of myself here in the timeline.
With COVID hardships and financial assistance programs being offered we figured we'd give that a shot, but was shot down and unsuccessful. Come to find out when we started the business we had only done the incorporation of the LLC legal structure, but did not register for business tax permits through the city, county, or state which was required to be eligible. Seems silly but we thought the LLC served that purpose, note: it does not! So after getting that done we looked into application process but turns out the assistance was based on your revenue numbers from the prior year. Well we were a brand new business that just started with no prior year income so we were not eligible for any financial assistance.
With our options running out we were introduced to Tony Robbins Unleash the Power Within virtual event in July by our friends, and that served a good boost for us to kick things off with a fresh fire. We loved it so much we decided to "burn the boats" and max out credit cards to buy into his Business Mastery program. After attending that virtual event in August we felt like we had just taken 2 years of business education at Harvard and were ready for anything! We got so much valuable content out of that and had a lot to implement. This was a pivotal moment for us, because this is when we realized we were going about it all wrong. We need to refocus our efforts to offering all of our services online virtually instead of trying to build this wellness center in the middle of the jungle and expect people to just start magically coming to retreats. The old phrase "build it and they will come" is not accurate at all!
So my wife began to spend countless hours day and night into building out our website to offer everything virtually. We continued to pour our souls out into social media but met with almost no reward in return. We continued to bleed our bank account and unemployment checks into the business, but it continued to be a money pit. With the new website model we were going for it turns out the website builder we went with (WIX) was not intended to be used in the manner we were going for. With the video content we were wanted to offer, WIX was not equipped to handle how we wanted to structure the pricing and availability. This forced us to look to other third party membership portals to integrate with our website, but every additional thing meant more money or another subscription to another service. It has really just started to turn into a real cluster.
These are just a few of the many challenges and obstacles that we have encountered along the way so far, and one of the most difficult things to deal with is keeping your mental sanity through all of this. We would go 2 or 3 weeks inspired and motivated but then one of us would have a mental break and just meltdown and begin to question everything. We also frequently would forget to take care of ourselves and practice self-care.
Moral of the story is, if you are looking to start your own business, proceed with extreme caution. Make sure you have a good support system, do your research, have a clear vision, and most importantly...have a strong "WHY" meaning your reason for doing it. If you don't have a strong why to keep you motivated, you will crumble. Check back for updates on our progress and our journey, we are determined to make it simply because the world needs people like us to make the world a better place!