birth a business


That’s the sound of the door opening up to peek into the inner workings of my business (and my life a bit) of 2015.

In today’s social media, filtered, only show the shiny moments of life, it can get terribly depressing if you’re in the habit of comparing your life to what you see “out there.” And we all do it. We don’t want to, but we do it anyway, and then kick ourselves when we do.

What does it take to build a business, a brand, a website, or even a life that reflects who you are and how you want to show up in this world?

A lot more than people stalking scrolling through social media can imagine.

And listen, not every body has the lady-balls to do it.

When you attend the theater or an orchestra, you’re witnessing the players at their best, after weeks, probably months, of practice. You didn’t see the hours of practice where the conductor or director throws their hands up after the same mistake has been made a hundred times before.

Or when you take a yoga class from your favorite teacher and she’s incredibly poised, knowledgeable and seems to know exactly what to say, and who to help at the right time. But you didn’t see the hours of her preparing for class or the time she invested in teacher training to get even semi-good.

Brands, businesses, yoga classes and trainings as well as lives take time to birth.

At the beginning of the year I chose a word/theme for 2015:

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(Be careful what you put out there because the Universe is always happy to oblige.)

Before I could bring expansion into my life, a few contractions had to happen first.

And like the contractions of birth, some have been downright painful.

  • I was maintaining two websites and it was NUTS. So in February/March I moved Purple Lotus Yoga under Shannon D. Caldwell, then noticed a sharp decrease in people who contacted me about teacher training.
  • Maintaining two Facebook pages caused the same CRAY-ZEE-NESS as above, so I let go of one and kept the Purple Lotus Yoga fan page. The followers here were mostly people interested in teacher training and I needed to figure out how to engage ALL my followers.
  • Let’s not even discuss my email lists. (Acck, that was like the equivalent of someone coming over to my house when it’s got dog hair all over it.) It just wasn’t a pretty sight. Even after a few updates and changes, it’s still not where I want it to be.
  • I had to step back from some of my loftier online goals to focus in on YOGA TEACHER TRAINING. For those of you who might not know, this is my main source of income and there was no way I could afford to neglect it anymore.
  • Dealing with tons of frustration because I’m back at square one. Banging my head against my desk because the speed of my expansion has been at the pace of a snail–maybe even slower. Wondering how many times am I going to have to “pivot” until I strike gold?
  • Admitting defeat and surrendering. Yeah. That. In May, I threw up my hands and said I’m done. I’m not meant to be in the online arena.

And that was just on the business side of my life.

On my personal front:

  • In February, we moved from our tiny 1000 square foot apartment into our newly built home. One month later, my husband got laid off from his job. (Ai-yi-yi).
  • My husband’s grandmother passed away in May and I learned my own grandmother has dementia.
  • We decided to sell one of my husband’s investment homes, but had to oversee several weeks of renovations before we could put it on the market.
  • I got pretty sick a couple of times and couldn’t conduct yoga teacher training.
  • Hubby got a new job at the beginning of the summer and with it a complete change in household routines. He no longer works from home, where we split tasks. I had to become both a stay-at-home-work-at-home mom.
  • With all this stress, I haven’t been able to walk my talk. I’m guiding others to take time for themselves and I can’t find a spare minute to pee by myself.

That last one’s a little painful because it wakes up my “I’m a fraud” monster.

The green-eyed monster comes out too because she “sees” what others are doing. . .teacher trainings that are growing successfully and pulling in twice as many teachers than me. Online brands that are moving, grooving and selling out their programs.

Hard shit, you know? Ironic lessons in overcoming negative mind chatter that I spend so much time helping others to do.

But then there’s a flurry of activity as the contractions bring about new life

When a mom is giving birth, she has faith those contractions are going to deliver the best gift into the world. The memories of bloating, waddling, stretched skin, and discomfort of pregnancy are sharp, but so are the joyous moments.

My contractions have birthed:

  • An updated website to better showcase (and integrate) my online and offline endeavors.
  • New teachers trainings–100-Hr Yin, 100-Hr Children’s, and a 300-Hr Yoga Therapy–beginning in 2016.
  • Connections with other amazing yoga teachers who are helping me deliver the best training.
  • I’ve enrolled in a coaching program and will (very soon) offer 1:1 coaching.
  • I busted out of comfort zone with some videos in the Back to Sanity Rally.
  • With my hubby’s new job and the sell of his investment home we were able to pay off all our debt.

My decision to quit this online stuff lasted about three weeks. I looked at everything that was and wasn’t working. What was giving me headaches and what lit me up when I thought about it. Some goals I put on a to do list for the “future Shannon” to deal with, and I revisit this to do list each quarter when I make my new 90-day plan.

As I created my plan for the last quarter of 2015, I realized the flurry of activity was behind me. The pain of childbirth a growing, distant memory.

And where I am right now? Is it where I want to be exactly?

No. But I’m a lot closer than I was six month ago, or if I had decided to quit entirely. I’m enjoying the downtime and quiet that comes after a major breakthrough. . .

Understanding that some births take longer than others. And as much as I dreamed and planned, whatever enters into the world will be mine and I’ll love it regardless.

What can you do if you want to birth a business (and possibly the life you love)?

purple 1Accept that it’s probably going to take longer and more money than you planned. (A hard truth). A good rule of thumb is to double both. If you think it will take one year and $10K, it will probably be closer to two years and $20k.

purple 2Learning that just because something doesn’t work doesn’t mean the whole business is a failure. And the earlier you can make the discoveries, the faster you can pivot (yeah, I said that) and give your attention to the next item on your list. Let go of what’s not working or delegate what’s driving you nuts.

purple 3Ask for help, damn it. You are not an island and you cannot create what you want by yourself. The people who have helped me: my husband, my mom taking care of E, someone who’s doing about 2 hours a week of admin work, housekeepers twice a month, a web designer, a mastermind group for accountability, and too many others I’ve forgotten. Yes, some of this has required money, while others have been bartered and negotiated.

purple 4Put your blinders on and WORK. Find a program that bars your from the internet while you’re working. Set a certain amount of time to be on social media. Remember the shiny you see on there is a snapshot in time. Most of us don’t post when our toddlers have pooped all over us.

purple 5Embrace the white space of life. It’s there for a reason, yet we’re too busy and distracted. Or we’re troubled by it. Just this week I was sharing how odd it was not to have a big project on my 90-day plan. I was reminded to sit back and breathe. Enjoy that silence. Celebrate coming through the pain of contractions.