Things I learned my first week in business

So it turns out when you accidentally start a business there are quite a few things you have to learn really quickly.  Here are a few tidbits I picked up this week:

Important Acronyms to know: 

FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number)

LLC (Limited Liability Company)

JSN (Just say no…especially important when people ask you to do something you REALLY don’t know how to do-like remove a tree)

TAGQ (Pronounced tah-gque, “That’s a good question”….turns out there are quite a few of these coming my way)

Live & Learn

Don’t apply for your Federal EIN number before your LLC paperwork confirmation comes back.  Because maybe the name you wanted is taken (it turns out checking domain names and the federal EIN site isn’t the same thing as checking in with the State Comptroller.  Who doesn’t buy their domain name when they file their business paperwork!?) and then you have to file a bunch more paperwork to make your EIN Number match your LLC name.

Applying for insurance when your previous experience is a volunteer apprenticeship and the person you worked with is now deceased (but lives on in everything you put in the ground) presents an interesting series of hoops to jump through.  Additionally, submitting a resume, payroll estimates and gross revenue estimates is challenging when you’ve been in business for 2.5 weeks.  But having insurance to bring in jobs and earn that revenue seems like the responsible way to operate.  So much for the advice in $100 Startup to just try something out and see if it works, write the business plan later.

Sometimes things work out and fall into place.  Sometimes they don’t.  Ritchie and I have been trying to figure out a way to create a revenue stream that we could use for humanitarian endeavors.  We’ve sorted through and planned a few different things now but kept hitting roadblocks.  Then this opportunity just kind of opened up and I feel hopeful and confident that Esteban, our newly-sponsored high school student training to be an Agricultural Technician will give this whole endeavor added meaning, motivation and success.   It’s a blessing to use our freedom, gifts, experiences, time and opportunities to empower others.  Until next time, happy landscaping!

The Accidental Entrepreneur or The time I tried to buy an ink cartridge and ended up starting a business.

img_6381A week and a half ago, after setting the intention to be more budget-conscious I found myself needing a black ink cartridge.  Those things are expensive and I didn’t have enough left in my weekly home management budget to buy one.  I could’ve used money from another account or my savings and it would’ve been fine but I tend to do that a lot so I decided to stick to my budget and get creative.  I printed everything in blue ink instead of black for a while but as the week wore on this strategy got increasingly frustrating and I found myself with a list of “things to print when I get an ink cartridge.”  I needed a black ink cartridge to live efficiently.  I decided I could try to earn one.  Now I’m a little rusty when it comes to earning money since I’ve been staying home with Jessica (and preparing for Jessica and trying to conceive Jessica) for the past 11 years and I’m particular about the time I commit outside our home.  So I decided to post a message on my community Facebook group offering to cut back the myriad brown and crunchy frozen plants in people’s front yards.  I listed my qualifications (Master Gardener Training, Landscape Design practice/consulting) as well as my availability (3 spots on Thursday) and price ($20).  I hoped 3 people would want to take me up on my offer so I could buy my ink cartridge and get on with my life.  In less than 3 minutes I had 3 customers and I was elated.  Within 8 minutes I had 5 customers so I said I could do 2 front yards on Friday too (Hey, I thought, I can also buy the essential oil I’ve been needing to replenish).  By the end of the night I had about 20 messages and by the next morning I was up to 30.  The following week saw an additional 10 people added to my list, each wanting a different service (tree pruning, lawn consultation, landscape design, winter clean-up).  As I met with different neighbors I realized that I inadvertently stumbled into a ready market for my landscape love.  I’ve worked hard, I’ve made some mistakes, I’ve learned a lot, I’ve gotten dirty, I bought a hedge-trimmer and wielded it with pride (because I spent 60 hand-cramping minutes cutting back ornamental grass with hand pruners and that hedge trimmer gets the job done in less than a minute!).  So this past week I filed papers with the Texas State Comptroller to officially establish Beautiful Village Landscaping LLC.  Now proudly (and humbly) operating in Bulverde Village.

Look for the seeds

A few weeks ago I was volunteering in Jessica’s classroom.  After reading with the kids, I mentioned to her teacher that I was going to go tidy up the plants in the patio garden.  Her wise Montessori guide kindly cautioned me to be mindful in my “cleanup efforts” because some of the flowers were going to seed.

As Jessica and I worked outside in the backyard yesterday afternoon, I recalled her teacher’s words and I delighted in collecting the bountiful harvest of seeds that my plants were generating so effortlessly.  Usually when plants are going to seed something beautiful and intentional is happening.  Though they look dried up and done-for they’re just in the process of offering up next year’s colors.  This principle has wide application, especially in a world where we put so much emphasis on the way things appear.  Sometimes appearances are deceiving.  

Keep your balance

Proportioned growth is a natural practice.  Grass seeks to keep a balance between root and blade. The roots pull nourishment from the earth and the blade absorbs energy from the sun and both elements combine to support growth. (This is why keeping grass at a consistent height helps it to flourish.  It can grow and thicken without spending it’s energy trying to constantly re-calibrate the root and blade balance).  Life is like that.  It is wise to balance our external outward endeavors with our nourishing self-care and vice versa.  In a time when it’s relatively easy to grow outward at extraordinary rates, it’s important to focus on our own root systems, the things that nourish and sustain our bodies, minds and spirits.   This type of balanced growth is rich and sustainable.

The Nature of Growth

You wouldn’t know it by looking at cotton, but like any fruitful creation, it’s seeds are carefully housed inside it.  With the fluff peeled back you can see the seed just waiting for the protective seasonal covering to fade away so it can grow.  Sometimes our personal protective coverings are hard to give up but it’s essential to the process of growth.  The decay of one gives rise to the other.  So the next time one of your protective walls comes down (in mind, experience or emotion) look for what is uncovered and thus able to grow.  Then nurture that thing by your thoughts and actions with a curiosity toward what fruit will come of it.

Trees & kids

Intended tone: Gently encouraging

Under the shadow of the tree from which it was born, an acorn will take root and begin to grow.  It has its own unique way of knowing what it will take to become an oak tree.  Much like children, who hold within themselves the secrets to their own future, and ours, for that matter, the acorn will take what it can from its surroundings and use those resources to overcome obstacles and slowly and steadily reach upward.  
“To stimulate life, leaving it free, however, to unfold itself–that is the first duty of the educator [or parent, friend, aunt],” so said Maria Montessori.  It is so easy to lose sight of the vast intelligence housed in the tiny people we call children.  So often we try to replace it with our own or someone else’s.  May we look at a child today with the same awe as a seedling; both are engaged in a great work.  It’s a gift to be able to provide a bit of shelter and watch that work unfold.