Recently I received an email from a client who is a part of our Architects coaching program which is known as the Architecture Firm Freedom Formula (Dream Practice Accelerator) serving Architects, Engineers, and Interior Designers..
It is a program that Enoch Sears and I have run jointly for four years and we’ve had the privilege of seeing more than 100 Architects through the program around the world from Namibia, to Croatia, China, to Scotland, Canada, and the United States.
We hear regular feedback from our heroic firm owners about real life challenges they are facing, and struggles of running a successful firm.
This is an honest peek into the life of one such firm owner who was literally about to throw in the towel, but has been refreshed and recommitted after seeing the simple power of serving her widowed mother.
Dear Scott and Enoch,
This is just an email to touch base and let you know I’m still alive:)) But more importantly, that I had a break through recently, thanks to the influence of you guys, that has me super excited and pumped to press forward with our company and renew/refresh….again!
I had hit a bad place of uncertainty mid-year that derailed intentions initiated at the start of this year when I signed up for AFF. I may have shared snippets between Thursday calls and the one time chat with Enoch (which was meant to discuss technical road block i have with trello), that indicated the turmoil & overwhelming state I’d arrived at with so much changing so fast in our company/structure/culture/vision, which left David and I very unsure what we wanted out of the business anymore. Vision temporarily lost! Confusion was compounded by us both turning 50/51 and re-evaluating goals and means to accomplish them. We called into question if it made sense to keep Fusion going or take our experience/skills/knowledge to alt career paths as employees elsewhere.
Meanwhile, we continued to be busier than expected this year, but unfortunately not all due to new revenue generating business, but rather, a considerable amount devoted to trouble-shooting and fixing unacceptable/inaccurate work performed by our ex-young team who had since moved on (we had taken time to train, or so we thought, but they didn’t care enough apparently), but left us plenty of potentially liable mess ups to follow up and deal with. Needless to say, the motivation to keep the business going waned even further as I evaluated our numbers, implementing AFF lessons, etc.
Then October rolled around and suddenly it was time for my almost 3 week solo trip to India (booked months ago) to visit and help my mom. Now a widow, she has relocated to her birthplace in a beautiful but remote town and I was there to help her finish out a construction project she stubbornly started at age 85, with the desire to reside on the small lakeside lot of land she inherited, next to the chapel she had built over 20 years ago for her community, from her retirement savings. The place is fairly remote, natural, with no internet connection at her place (attaching a pic taken from roof terrace of her new final home). So I’d hoped I’d have plenty of quiet blocks of time to really catch up on AFF modules, plus some reading, in this potentially peaceful setting. I took both books you guys sent us (Profit First and E-Myth)…had only half finished the former in January, implemented immediately, but never finished the book. This was going to be my time to read both! Well, turned out to be wishful thinking!!
My 3 weeks flew at a very busy pace, as I found myself having to manage union/communist mentality labor taking advantage of a single old lady; having to communicate strictly in a foreign language that I only have basic conversational skills with, amidst heavy rain storms, etc. Kept me so fully busy every day, with no energy to read or think beyond what my mom needed. But i was there for her primarily, so it was cool. Accomplished a lot to settle her. Left her happy and comfortable, and excited that I will be back next month with David and the girls. Something for her to look forward to this Christmas:)
But…as I boarded the plane on Nov 11th to head back, I recognized I was still hungry to gain some clarity and sense of thoughtful professional gameplan before returning to USA, but had exhausted time, and quite frankly, my energy. Not quite ready to give up, I decided to try something I’ve never succeeded at doing in the past….to stay awake in flight and read!
I deliberately slept my first 4.5 hours flight from Kochi to Doha. That refreshed me from immense fatigue I had felt from intense pace through day of departure. Then on 2nd leg of journey, 14.5 hours to go before touchdown in Atlanta, I buckled down with Michael Gerber. I thought I’d at least get the book started before I returned to David.
Simply put….Wow! What a great read. Just a couple of chapters in, I was hooked. I could relate to so much, and every page resonated with sense. I devoured the book cover to cover without inflight movies or sleep for 14 hours straight — much to the annoyance of my fellow passengers who probably wanted my light turned off. But selfishly I wasn’t about to turn it off when so many mini lightbulbs were mentally being triggered as I read on.
The book helped me better understand the systematic modules you have organized for us to implement. I feel stupid for waiting this long to read it! It even inspired me to crack open my notepad and think through a different ORG chart with fresh perspective (I’ve attached my sloppy inflight sketch here for your amusement — lots to still iron out — have some questions I hope AFF team can help clarify before finalizing). I realized, the Entrepreneur in me wasn’t ready to give up. Not just like that after more than 16 years of a fairly profitable business — messy and sloppy as it has been. So much room for improvement, and with some clarity gained, I know Fusion can be so much better and stronger, even if maintaining our desire not to get much bigger! I am convinced we’ve just experienced really painful adolescence as a company, and I am so ready to grow up/mature, but recognize the need to reset bad childhood habits and practices first. So…I am ready to implement from basics again.
The most exciting result of this trip for me is that i’ve returned EXCITED and believing in the purpose of my business in our life’s goals again. This trip gave me time to recognize in deep gratitude the many luxuries our small business has provided us as a family. Not just the financial means and freedom to travel internationally as a family every other year, but especially for the blessing to allow me personally the freedom to take as many trips across the seas to reach my parents to help whenever needed.
When in 2015 my dad was diagnosed with ALS, he and my mom needed my help and I ended up making 5 trips to India over the next 12 months, 2-3 weeks each; the last of which was to bury dad. Had I been an employee anywhere, I would have been fired or had to have quit. Which employer would allow for that kind of time? Or which small company, unsystematic as we are in many ways, could tolerate a COO in absent minded/depression/anger/grief for the next 12-18 months and still generate adequate returns to keep all staff compensated while finishing several big projects to full client satisfaction? Somehow that’s what my business has afforded and provided us.
The recent years seem a blur so I don’t know how we did it, but we did. No doubt being blessed with a handful of key people on my team is definitely part of the ‘how’; but boy, thinking back to the intense stress and toll we’ve experienced through these last 4 adolescent years, while it’s been a decent business it could’ve been so much better had I known and implemented then what I am learning now. I recognize that while the business hasn’t been a lucrative one unfortunately, it has been a blessing in disguise that has afforded us significant and priceless life experiences. And I believe it still has purpose for at least a few more years.
So I want to re-commit to my initial intent at the start of 2019, to renew and refresh Fusion A.I. Design. Really thankful to have discovered AFF to help guide me to accomplish that intent. Now it is time. I aim to IMPLEMENT!
Thank you both for sharing what you know and doing what you do!
PS: Just sharing a 3rd pic for fun — of me, my mom and twin bro who joined us for a few days (he’s a successful small business owner too — an award winning OBGyn in Augusta, GA — he’s the twin making the big bucks!)
Alice Joseph-Limer, NCIDQ
Fusion Architectural Interior Design, Inc.
What role does your business play in serving others? Alice is working to build a business on purpose…and we hope you’ll do the same!
Three things Alice did that I challenge you to do…
- OWN Where You Are At (Good or Bad)
- Surround Yourself With Truth AND Inspiration
- Recommit To Your Vision, Mission, and Values!
Scott Beebe is the founder of Business On Purpose, author of Let Your Business Burn: Stop Putting Out Fires, Discover Purpose, And Build A Business That Matters. Scott also hosts The Business On Purpose Podcast and can be found at mybusinessonpurpose.com.