Tag Archives: building business

A Rant to Clear for Myself

I had a really feel good poem I wanted to write based on a dream last night. It will have to wait. I found myself very upset this morning and I need to clear my emotions to feel better again.

This morning I discovered that the sign I drew up for the clinic was completely different upon installation.

It was explained to me that the one chiropractor had dropped the ball and the other decided to take over and have his significant other redo it all together.

I wasn’t so upset because it was redone by his girlfriend, that’s typical thinking with your penis response to Get-R-Done mentality. Fastest solution, and bonus it’ll make my girl feel good. Whatever, boys will be boys.

What I was pissed over is that both chiropractors sat with me and answered a gaggle of questions that I asked to make sure it was a good readable sign that met the needs of the clinic as a whole. The chiro that took over apparently forgot or didn’t care that I had done that, because the finished sign is not only unreadable from any significant distance, but snubs some of the practitioners in the clinic. That is what pissed me off. Maybe that wasn’t the intent, but that is definitely what came across.

But hey I’m just a dumb massage therapist right?! Nevermind that I have 2 years of actual work experience in graphic design having done hundreds of business signs and tee-shirts both of which readability is a huge concern. I left graphic design, not because I wasn’t good at it and got fired. No, I left because wages were too low and during the summer I worked 60 to 70 hour weeks and winter would only be 25 to 30. It wasn’t a good combo.

Now I simply don’t know: maybe the GF is also a graphic artist, but by the looks of the finished sign she has never done design for signage. I would have checked on that, or at least remembered the conversation where I asked all the myriad of questions. If she hadn’t done signs he could simply have said to her “the other designer brought up these things as concerns, maybe we can do something to check and make sure they are accounted for”. That way his girl could still have gotten the ego boost and a decent sign still could have been accomplished. The sign that is now up would have been a mostly okay business card or letter head or website header, but not a full scale outdoor sign. As for the mostly, I will get into that more in a few.

First, the sign was originally a discussion as an addition to current signage to catch more attention from traffic. It was requested to have some color to gain attention. Originally, it was just going to be one sign and thus needed to match what was already in place. I offered to use the existing logo for the color pop, but pointed out that for cost reasons it would be best to turn it from gradient fill to flat color. Both chiro’s initially agreed.

Next, I can easily tweak any design I do, so if speed was a concern I could have had quick turn around. Additionally, once a decision to redo all the signage was made, that too would have been a quick adjustment- copy, paste, resize to fit, add or remove text as necessary. At that point congruency only needs accomplished between the current edit and resized versions, so if a new font had been desired that too was a quick adjustment. On the original most of my time was devoted to rebuilding the logo as 1 flat color, but shit happens, if you changed your mind just let me know. It simply feels like a bit of a slap in the face that my work and knowledge on the subject was completely disregarded and ignored.

So here is the gist of what the final sign looks like.

Obviously I left actual business info off.

Like I said, it’s a decent layout if the printed material is close to your face. But when your goal is supposedly to claim passing cars, you’ve completely failed. All of the fonts could have been larger and more bold, but especially the acupuncture line.

Here’s the deal, from years of experience and education I know how to tell if something is readable at a distance. The easiest would have been just ask me. But, you could have said “I’d really like to get in good with my girlfriend by letting her do this, do you have any tips?” I would have replied with the following. Put the text full screen on the computer, set your monitor brightness to the max to simulate a sunny day, then step back at least 10 feet and see if you can read it. If not, it’s not readable to passing cars. The further away you can get the better, because that would give a driving car more time to notice, read, and process the information. As it is, the installed sign is barely legible across the street.

Now, where I continue my upset is over the way the font size prioritizes the modalities. As a business owner and one that has dreams of having a clinic even better than this one, I see immediately how this sign snubs other practitioners. This version is saying I have the PhD, so I’m more important. However, you wouldn’t own a business with multiple practitioners if it didn’t benefit you. Every practitioner helps pay the bills and without them you would flounder, everything would be on your lonely PhD ass to pay for and keep open.

When you have multiple services, it is to catch a wide array of needs. So the person driving past with an aching back, but who might be wary of chiropractic, could still note massage therapy and schedule with the LMT’s. The guy that just talked to his sister in Maine who told him she was wary of acupuncture but tried it and it did wonders, would maybe see the sign and call and find out more info.

This sign is more akin to if Target did this:

Obviously that would be a huge costly error, underselling their other products. That is why Target and Walmart call themselves “super centers”.

AND I never put my two cents worth in on any other aspect. Like when I did the design I wondered if there was any intent for additional locations or franchises in the future. If there had been, a well placed colon would have done wonders, and enabled those kinds of thoughts and plans to be a potential reality. I also had thought about possibility of expansion and adding other services and had contemplated layout options for being able to easily add other modalities. I never said anything, just did what the consus request was.

So yeah, my business mind saw broader perspective, potentials, and ramifications of decisions being made. It is partly from my experience in design and collegiate training, and partly from my real world experience as a self-employed massage therapist. I could have done amazing things. I could have simply helped them avoid this costly fail. But when those with letters behind their name disregard anyone with less education it’s their own loss. At this point the clinic now has several upset staff members that don’t like confrontation, so the downside is knowing that if any of them suddenly have better offers the clinic could shrink quickly. I even had that thought myself, knowing my skills are not respected in the way I deserve, and that’s design or massage.

May you have better days and know your skills are honored and respected. May you see your work as mattering. May you know how to take good advice when it is available. May you know how to meet your desires without offending those around you. May you see the broader perspective in a variety of ways and sense the best decision for all elements. May you have less costly mistakes. May you honor those around you for their skills and knowledge regardless of how many years they spent in school. May you make good decisions in business so that you can work less and make more. May you know that God supports and guides you if you let it flow.

Siva Hir Su

And so it begins…

HAL has begun sending me things to reinforce my last post. One of which is the following:

How to Move On: What It Really Means to Let Go: https://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-move-on-from-the-past-what-it-really-means-to-let-go/

I guess I will never understand fully because letting go and focusing on love seem to be the bigger message. I still wish I had some understanding.

Anyways, in moving on, I had a really good time today with 2 different co-workers during downtime.

I took a walk with the office manager and we had a really great conversation, with some much needed emotional release for both of us. Plus it helped me reach my step goals today. I was very appreciative of that time all around.

I also got to play a couple of games of “Magic the Gathering” with the one chiropractor. It’s a game I used to play with the brother that’s closest to me in age. It has been …. let’s see…. since early 2003 that I’ve played. That’s 16, almost 17, years. Wow!

I still have my cards from back then, but so much has changed that the new decks are much better, so he has been encouraging me to use his. I feel like I’m starting from scratch and completely relearning everything. It’s so fun though. I totally lost big time- on both games, but still enjoyed every bit of it.

I am so out of practice that the strategy feels over my head yet, but I get the concept. The layering of steps and which cards work better in what order can be very complex. I literally had a card in my hand that I’d been holding for several turns, but forgot to leave myself enough mana(land) to use it and it cost me the one game.

I enjoy learning so much though, and it is definitely a fun kind of learning, so it literally made me giddy at one point. I felt like I got silly hyper with the fun. That was a very much needed distraction from my previous focus.

As for learning: I’m still working on hindi and telegu in my spare time, but since I have no idea why God nudged me to do so (especially since I’m letting go of that person) , it’s at a very relaxed pace. I’m getting to where in hindi I can pick out letters and sound out words even though I know very few translations. Telegu I know more translations, but have fewer of the characters memorized. It’s merely a symptom of the different apps and how they teach languages. I like Duolingo and Drops, which both offer hindi, but neither offer telegu. The telegu apps are much less sophisticated, but still get the job done.

I’ve also begun the slow tedious process of becoming an approved continuing education provider for massage therapy. Essentially, the easy part is proving my qualifications to teach a handful of courses by documenting I have so many years working using said techniques, I also have a bachelor’s degree, which though they would prefer it to be related (a BS), it doesn’t hurt. Once I do that easy step, I literally have to follow rules and write my own curriculum which can be no more than 30% cited source material. Finally, once I’ve written everything, I can apply by submitting my CV and courses for approval; of course paying the appropriate exorbitant fees. They really try to dissuade people from becoming providers: can’t have too many teachers and too few students you know!

I’m not intimidated by the process in the least. Their basic calculation is 1200 words equals a credit unit. That’s a blog post for me, so I’m guessing I’ll have more trouble pairing down or figuring out how to subdivide my topics for multiple related courses. However, after having written the operations manual for my previous position, I’m certain I’m up to the task. It’s more about convincing myself to do the free work knowing that eventually I’ll recoup the benefit in paid courses with students in multiplicity.

I’m also contemplating the investment of a site where I can host web-based courses. Essentially, the text/testing coursework can be provided via web interface without practical hands on CE hours. Ultimately that helps spread the information side, but the CMT loses access to the extra CE’s for the hands on practicals. It’s a lower cost solution for both parties, but longterm it would benefit me as the provider more. It’s a huge up front investment, to also have to market like crazy, but longterm reaping significantly higher benefits. Ultimately, it will happen, but I’m not sure I’m ready for the investment side just yet. I’ll contemplate web platforms and do the math several times during my writing phase of this momentous step, and make my final decision during the application process.

Long story short, I’m having fun and learning and inching toward another significant step of improvement. All by my not-so-little own self. I feel like screaming “HA, Take That World!”… but alas I know no one would really truly care anyway. So, I’ll keep my ‘I win’ moment to myself, and relish that I know I’m the only one that gets credit for digging myself out of a decade of hardship…. me and God that is.

May you all have happy dances of overcoming obstacles. May you find kindness around you and moments of connection with others. May you find joy in continually learning and ways to share what you’ve already mastered. May you see God’s grace and support guiding you through all of life’s moments toward brighter futures.

Siva Hir Su

Victory and insights.

So the victory is my midwife is paid in full!!!! Yay! Happy dance and squeals of delight.

I even have a little bit saved for the trip to Acadia National Park in Maine the end of July. At this rate I think I’ll have enough to make the trip. It might be tight, but I can’t say no to free lodging, a beautiful experience, and visiting family I’ve not seen in nearly a decade.

That is wonderful relief.

On an entirely different topic, the insights came yesterday at a mandatory meeting our building had with the President and Vice President of our company. I have to say meeting them was far more comfortable than daily working tends to be. Everyone around me was running around stressing and I just wasn’t. I don’t know why in particular but it felt very comfortable and I even had a good albeit short conversation with the President.

He seems like a genuinely good guy, and the biggest take away from the meeting was that the owners are also good people.

It led to a long conversation with our pastor afterwards. We discussed how a company gets to where they have such genuinely good goals and set out to do good deeds, but end up having staffing and budget issues as I’ve seen. How the low people on the totem essentially still boil down to numbers. And how those ideals fail to carry through to all of the individuals in the organization.

It helped me gain some more clarity on my goals of Atira. The pastor used the phrasing that perhaps a company gets too large to fully understand all of the individual workings and really know it’s people. That the connections that express a person’s value are lost. That sentiment reinforced prior ideas I’d had that Atira should be a singular community. It could spawn franchisee opportunities or literally just help people learn how to start their own communities, but I really don’t want a company of mine to grow so large that the company itself begins to lose sight of it’s intent.

I want Atira to stay manageable so that I know for sure it is helping people both within and outside of it’s structure. I want to know that if all the individuals understand that, the better it functions and the more they can make happen in their lives and in the lives of others.

For instance: I know I want to give homeless people second chances by putting them to work- training and all, but I also acknowledge that minimum wage being just over $7 is highly unrealistic with the inflation we’ve had the last 20 years. I want Atira to be able to sustain realistic living wages for all of it’s staff members, and those with experience and drive do deserve to earn more.

Yet, I acknowledge that in order for there to be profits to divert for other charitable uses, there does have to be positive flow of goods and services being exchanged for properly set fees.

It is definitely a tricky balancing act, and one that though I now can see my employer aimed for, either did not reach or was unable to maintain. I want Atira to reach and maintain it.

Beyond that, yesterday’s conversations and interactions solidified that I have done very well for myself with much less effort than some. I pointed out to the President that I had only ever paid for two boxes of business cards and never did pamphlets or other costly marketing.

I left Facebook nonsense out of that conversation knowing that I had already gotten their attention over that. However, in talking to the pastor I did revisit it. Explaining that I have yet to see any benefit from Facebook, also knowing over 2 dozen people that have tried to use it for marketing. Most of those, myself included had far too negative cost-benefit imbalances in Facebook marketing. Offering up hundreds of free services or visits to get a pittance of mediocre to decent client base. It simply just never netted the good reliable clients that massage therapists, chiropractors, and other care providers survive by.

I count myself fortunate to have seen that pattern and ducked out before giving away too many hours of my life, my work, and my hands, to those that are ungratefully taking advantage of the freebie.

That is not to say I never give away services. In fact to this day I still do. However, I’m much more discerning in my free work. I give to those that truly value it, but otherwise might not be able to afford it. I also give away a fair number of massages to veterans, even those that can afford it. That is where I choose to give, and when someone shows their gratitude in the best way they know or have available, I’m more likely to give them repeat free services. I have one veteran that I bill for about every 4th massage, knowing he’s on a tight budget but that he sings my praises nearly daily. So essentially I do my best to catch him weekly and bill just one a month. That is my avenue for flowing charity for God. It is what I can do right now, so I do.

And besides, not dealing with Facebook took a huge stress off of me. No longer having to consider finding or creating good stock photography, and reducing my concerns of protecting people’s information and privacy. As a sole proprietor HIPAA is a potentially life threatening costly mistake waiting to happen, so I’m glad I stepped away from Facebook when I did.

Anyway, I’m utterly grateful for the whole lot, midwife being paid, meeting upper management, learning more about the company, and especially both the conversation with the President and our pastor.

Another thank you to the Divine for providing more clarity in my days and helping to continually redefine and become more specific with my desires and goals. I truly look forward to brighter days ahead.