I started this year as a single member LLC with no employees and three clients. I am ending the year with one employee, 4 contractors, and a list of clients that grew by 3 just this week. And all of this during a global pandemic.
When the reality of the pandemic hit us in March, I was certain my decision to be a full-time consultant in January had been a mistake. Several contracts were paused or canceled. I don’t have any family wealth to rely on, so all the capital in my business had to come from me. I drew down all the savings I could and re-doubled my efforts at building the business. By the end of April things had turned around, and it was clear I was going to make it.
Although 2020 has been largely defined by conflict, suffering, and loss, I am grateful for having established a business that may yet thrive.
I’ve (re-)learned a few lessons this year that I thought worth passing along.
Build Good Things
I decided late in 2019 that I would invest more time and energy in building good things than trying to dismantle bad ones. Being in constant battle was bad for my soul. The time I have spent building Standpoint Consulting along with various types of service to my community made the year more manageable. I am certain good things can displace bad ones given enough time and pressure.
Part of fighting injustice on a regular basis meant having to be a part of institutions and organizations that weren’t entirely aligned with my values. Those organizations provided access to power where I could be more effective at batting away destructive ideas and promoting actions that would benefit people in need. But being in those spaces took a toll on my wellbeing. In 2020, every piece of work I’ve taken on has been aligned with my values. And I’ve discovered a level of joy I didn’t know possible.
I Am Because We Are
Values matter corollary. In the United States we seem to be convinced that scarcity is real, and competition is inevitable, but there is little evidence to support either of those things. Sure, time and the earth’s resources are scarce. But all the other things we struggle over are abundant. My increasing engagement with clients about race equity has shown me there is a desire to acknowledge our interdependence and embrace a culture of abundance, but there is also considerable fear of shame and judgement. Standpoint’s commitment to honoring others’ humanity and preserving their dignity has proven to be one our greatest assets.
Money Isn’t Success
I took at 72 percent pay cut to start my business. I made 75 percent less this year than I did at my highest salary. My firm did phenomenally well this first year, but I had to take a significant cut to invest in the business and to pay others. Even so, I feel far more successful this year than I have ever felt in my life. I didn’t take on debt thanks to having some savings, and we lived well. Knowing I could easily earn 3 times as much money is comforting, but having both joy and peace is winning.
Thank you to all the clients who trusted us to support them this year. We look forward to the relationships we’ll be starting in 2021.