owning your own business

Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted in one moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip? 

Lose Yourself by Eminem

Not quite the scenario I’ve been presented with but an apt lyrical representation in some ways.

The studio where I study and teach shuts its door at the end of the month. My friend and teacher, Jade, has chosen to step away and spend more time with her children and seek saner employment opportunities. She offered those of us who teach there the opportunity to take the studio over, and regretfully, I passed.

Timing is one of those serendipitous things. It introduced Rob and I to each other and brought Dee and I to Canada. It has afforded me with writing opportunities and yoga study and teaching opportunities that someone with my background shouldn’t likely have had. But it didn’t show up for this one.

I love the studio. It’s compact, elegant and well-situated. Sitting above a used bookstore (yes, the one I toyed briefly with buying) and sandwiched between a seedy pub and a liquor store, it fits the stereotypical ideal of city yoga studios everywhere. How often have you run across yoga springing forth from the seedy remains of crumbling downtowns like saplings stubbornly taking root in the cracks of sidewalks.

Even as strip malls and newer shopping plazas spring up on the other side of the highway, the town is determined to lure folks back to the former city center with a massive overhaul, repaving the streets, putting in wider sidewalks and creating a pedestrian plaza just a block away. The area improves with each year and there are signs that small businesses, at any rate, have taken notice and are moving into the empty retail slots at a heartening pace though not all have succeeded.

So location? The studio has that covered.

The rent, though I didn’t ask, is probably reasonable based in the information I acquired when I was checking out the bookstore.

And there is a need and a student base, but I am not naive about either. The former fluctuates with the weather, and the latter is a personality thing. Jade has a loyal following but it wouldn’t necessarily switch allegiance. When you are the product in a sense, you can’t “sell” that along with the physical aspects of your business.

Why not then?

Because any type of “fitness” oriented business is subject to the time constraints of those who use it. Shift work rules around here, so early mornings and evenings are prime time. I have a husband and child who expect me about in the early morning and evenings to accommodate them. As it is, teaching just three nights a week this past nine months has been strain enough. If I were to add more?

Rob’s enthusiasm factors as well and he couldn’t offer much when I told him about the studio.

“You’re not thinking about doing it, are you?”

He is my most ardent supporter, but he can be forgiven his self-interest. My working hinders more than it helps our bottom-line and that was never more evident than when we filed our Canadian taxes this year. And my not being around in the evenings shifts the burden of Dee’s activities to him alone in terms of carting her about and cheerleader duty.

One of the reasons behind Jade’s decision was the fact that she was missing hockey games and that precious four hours from the time kids get home from school until they are tucked in for the night. I know that many two income families live quite happily in the nano-bits snatched in the before and after school allotments. They pack everything that doesn’t conveniently fit into the week into a 48 hour weekend, but as I remember that life – it takes a toll.

And then there are the crucial factors. I don’t know anything about running a business, and freelancing more seriously this last year has taught me that the rules, which govern me from afar, are more complex and onerous than I knew.

Finally, I don’t know that I am ready to “be the teacher”. Sure, I teach yoga, but under the umbrella of the studio, which affords me credibility. I am unsure that I possess the experience and knowledge – or radiate the gravitas –  that one needs to in order to “be the studio owner” – to be THE teacher.

Regardless, it’s hard to let this one slip even though I know that there are good reasons for doing so.

I am writing this from my mother-in-law’s dining room table in Penticton, B.C. We arrived here, Rob, BabyD and I, around two in the afternoon on Sunday after another basically sleepless night in Revelstoke. The first night it was the snowboarding crowd and members of another wedding party that kept us up (I do not know whether or not Mr. Confidence was in either group*). Saturday night it was our party who basically ruled the disruption roost. At one point, I am told by MK, they were verbally assaulted by an irate young lady (don’t know if she was the one who fell under Mr. Confident’s spell the night before or not) who was told that since our party outnumbered hers, she was simply going to have to “deal”.

She dealt by phoning in a noise complaint.

I can attest to the fact that noise complaints to the local authorities in Revelstoke are not incredibly terrifying to those being reported on because the partying continued on and off until nearly 6 in the morning at which time, having been awake and annoying my husband for nearly a half hour, he said,

“Why don’t you go talk a walk.”

Which was as much for his benefit as mine. Truly.

Walking a mountain town in the early Sunday morning light is quite peaceful. The streets were deserted and the air not quite crisp. I had worked up a good head of steam by the time I had circled back to the motel. No one was stirring and the lights in our room were still out, so I headed out for another lap and to find coffee and tea.

The peace stems from the fact that nothing is open. This is not the U.S. There is really no such thing as a 24hr anything aside from gas stations, and even that can be hit and miss in the remote areas, but I eventually found a cafe in an old house on the end of Mackenzie Street that was open every day for breakfast and lunch. I secured coffee, tea and a cinnamon roll for Rob and BabyD to share before retracing my  steps.

As I had walked earlier though, I’d spent time pondering the idea of living in a place like Revelstoke. I like small towns. I like being able to walk everywhere and the mix of residential and small businesses. And I love the eclectic mishmash of shops and eateries and tourism mixed in with essentials, and the people who own and run them. There is something wonderfully communal about people who work and live amongst their neighbors who also make up their customer base, and it translates to the strangers who dwell briefly amongst them.

I can easily see myself in a little place and more and more I know I wouldn’t miss the “convenience” of living near or in an urban area. I don’t need to shop or have a lot of “things” to fill my life. I am happy with my husband, my daughters and my writing. And honestly, it seems to me anymore that the things people deem most important, beyond the people in their lives, are mostly consumer driven and based on instant gratification. And yeah, I have my vices, this internet blogging thing for example, but in the last two years I have come to prefer small, casual and things that are harder to come by.

Rob and I have been talking about this for a while now. How do we uproot and move to a smaller (even than the Fort) community and support ourselves? Every time I pass by an empty storefront, I wonder what service I could provide that is useful and people might appreciate enough to use?

The little café was for sale. I imagined us running it with ED running the kitchen and MK possibly running a coffee bar. Maybe Rob would be building or renovating homes in the area – sustainable living. MK would like that better. Possibly she would be learning the craft from/with him?

Later as we ate breakfast there, Rob and I discussed Lillooet again. It’s a tiny place up past Whistler. First Nation country that is trying to break out. Rob thought about running an adventure outfitters with his nephew, Cee, whose wedding we attended.

Dreams. But nothing outlandish really and certainly things that should be pondered. The old world (I am talking pre-crash) model was that children grew up and struck out in the world far away often and were able to take care of themselves. I don’t think that holds up anymore. I think we will see more families stick close and cultivate family ventures that will pass from one generation to the next, taking the employment and sustenance issue out of the hands of faceless “employers” and into their own hands.

Okay, I am rambling. Sorry, I am tired.

I will write, always, but I think about other possibilities – especially after early morning walks on sleepy small town streets.

*See Saturday’s post.