Back in February, I had lunch with my former nursing mentor, a very successful, much more senior foot care nurse. I thought we were getting together just to catch up, say hello, a chat between girls, that sort of thing. So, when she brought up a business idea, I was caught completely off guard.
My former mentor has been in this business about 20 years and wants to slow down. She’s having personal issues that are affecting her health and work, but she’s still ambitious enough to build her business in a different, probably very practical direction. Problem is, she needs a partner.
She likes my work. She likes the way I deal with clients, especially difficult ones. She likes my business ethic. She likes that I am Christian. In her eyes, I’m the perfect business partner. I told her I would need to think about it and would have an answer after Easter.
My friend’s proposal sounds lucrative and do-able. It’s tempting. What small business owner doesn’t want to see their company grow and bring in tons of money? I know I have the drive to make it succeed and I get along with my mentor. This could work but it will require a huge investment of my time and energy.
Then, there’s my mom side. I have to switch off my entrepreneur brain when my 9-year old is having trouble with math homework or my older 20-something kids want to talk about school or work. They need their mom to be present and available.
There’s also my husband. He’s incredibly supportive. The other day I heard him telling the kids that since this upcoming week is extremely busy for my business, he expects them to step it up and keep the house running smoothly. It’s a common sight to see him hauling overflowing hampers down to the laundry room then plunking clean baskets of laundry down in the kitchen and yelling for everyone to come and get their clean clothes. I married the guy who’s not afraid of cooking, cleaning or chauffering. But he needs his wife. And I need my husband.
Being a small business owner affects me physically, emotionally and even spiritually. When I’m not working, I’m still working. When work is busy, I’m thinking about all the clients I have to visit and the administrative stuff that I have to dig myself out from under. When work is not busy, I worry that I won’t make my quotas and I still have to manage the administrative side. There’s always something. This is not a 9to5 job.
I know myself. I know how I work. I know how driven and focused I can get when I want something. I know that if I accept this offer, I’ll give it 200% and convince myself that everything’s fine, even if it isn’t. If that happens, I won’t be happy and I’ll be crazy to live with.
After 2 months of praying, mulling it over and discussing it with my husband, I’m turning down her offer. For me, making a business decision can’t be just about the money or success. What good is a fat bank account if my home life is unhappy? What good is looking after other people when I’m not looking after my family? A friend who’s an extremely successful businessman told me that if I want to grow my business, I have to be ready to lose my family. Well, I’m not ready to lose my family. I think my mentor will be disappointed when I give her my answer, but it’s the best decision for me, my family, my business.
Ora et labora, wrote St. Benedict. Pray and work. To me, that’s great business advice. Notice how prayer comes first, before work, before making decisions that will have a wide impact, not just on business but family. I’m taking a leap of faith and trusting that my decision is the right one. St. Benedict, pray for me. St. Camillus de Lellis, patron saint of nurses, guide my business and grow it the way God wants, if God wants.