Business Sideways

I have a confession to make.

I came into online business sideways. No business plan, no SBA loans. I didn’t have a grand plan to have an online business.

I started after stopping. A full, complete stop. The “I’m absolutely sure I’ll never take on design work again” kind of zero. From a batch of local clients to zero.

It was a full stop because I had taken on the most important job in the world to me. I was a MOM. Responsible for two tiny beings.

It was all I ever wanted. Everything I’d been dreaming of since I was six years old and saw my sister for the first time wrapped up in a pink, striped hospital blanket, next to a bulky baby boy with wild black hair.

“That one?” I asked my dad point to the boy.

“No that one,” he said pointing. There she was, one basinet over, wispy blond hair and a pixie nose: my introduction to the yearning for motherhood.

I knew, knew, KNEW I wanted to be a mom.

When my girls came along 24 years later, even though I gave up all my design clients, I was perfectly content to be Mom.

Who would want to spend all day with this kind of cute?

Business to zero made perfect sense to me.

For a while.

Then it turned out not working wasn’t fine with my creative soul, with my must-help-provide-for-the-family upbringing, or with my brain, which was starting to exhibit signs of losing the ability for abstract thoughts, beyond choosing which muy bien Skippyjon Jones book to read next.

I needed a way to prove to myself that I hadn’t lost my creative skills but I was certain that I wasn’t ready to juggle meetings with clients, which often meant an hour drive to the city.

I didn’t feel like I could step straight back into business, so I went sideways.

Through Volunteer Match, I found a few nonprofit organizations who wanted help with marketing, virtually, no driving required. Around naps, I wrote newsletters, designed websites, and created flyers.

I celebrated each project. My brain, it seemed, still worked. Pro bono work rebuilt my confidence and the realization that I could work from home made returning to business seem doable.

This business had to grow slowly, though, and be flexible enough so that I could be the mom I wanted to be. Design had to be wedged around trips to the park, snacks, and crazy nap time schedules.

It could work. It did work. It does work.

I’m telling you this because we spend a lot of time comparing ourselves and our businesses to everyone else’s. Too much time spent thinking they must have had a straight line to success that is somehow alluding us.

But we don’t stop and look at our story and see the choice we’ve made, the winding, twisty, around-the-mountain-and-back approaches to business that we’ve taken because they allowed us to honor all parts of ourselves.

So, today I want you to look at your business journey and see what you can celebrate. Celebrate the starts and stops, the zero, the sideways, backwards, and vertical approaches that got you where you are today. And please share below. We all need reminders that it is o.k. to approach life sideways.

18 Responses to Business Sideways

  1. Lisa | Practically I July 8, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    I wonder if that’s not how many businesses are created – sideways! 🙂 Sometimes, that’s the best way.

    (Your babies look so sweet! Aren’t they wonderful at that age??)

    • christie July 8, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

      Lisa – I think you’re right, sideways is best. Thank you, my babies were sweet at that age and pretty awesome now, too.

  2. Catherine Stevens July 8, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    Thanks for sharing. I find that my business changes as I change and grow.
    And adjustments need to be made to blend with our desire for service, nurturing ourself, being with family and friends and inspiring our creativity.

    • christie July 8, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

      Catherine – Yes, constant adjustments. In the next few weeks I’ll be writing about the changes that happened when my kids went off to kindergarten. Not sure I’m ready to think about it yet, but someday they’ll be off on their own and what a big change that will be!

  3. Tabi(tha) Jayne July 8, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    Somehow I think most people come into business sideways. I know that I did. “Oooh I want to do that” I said and set off without knowing exactly what to expect. As Lisa Sasevich says I’m building the plane as I’m flying it and it’s a lot of fun! I make sure to celebrate every piece of success. I have no doubt my business will be exactly what I want in the future (which incidentally is set up in a way so that I can have my own babies, stay at home with them, and have a 7-figure business that is set up to run automatically!) so every step forwards, backwards, sideways is a step closer to this! After all no-one ever said success was linear!

    • christie July 10, 2012 at 11:17 am #

      Sounds like you’ve got a great plan Tabitha! Awesome!

  4. Cathy Sykora July 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    Sideways entry to business can be the easiest or the most difficult way to do it. You definitely seem to have the best of both worlds! ~Cathy

    • christie July 10, 2012 at 11:18 am #

      Thank you Cathy. I feel blessed!

  5. Holly July 8, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    Definitely taking it sideways!! But certainly learning lots… Not necessarily so that I go at it any faster though!!

    • christie July 10, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by Holly. Slow and steady and sideways is good!

  6. Elsie Escobar July 8, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    Oh thank you for this Christy! And yes, it is ABSOLUTELY ok to celebrate what you say: the zero, the sideways, backwards, et al. I’m honestly getting teary eyed because I know this deep in my soul and yet, I often feel left out, like I’m not doing enough, like everyone else can get things done faster.

    I am proud of what I’ve accomplished. I am proud I get to do what I get to do every day (be a full time mom and a full time business woman!) I’m doing it my way, I get to call my own schedule and we are all healthy. What else could I ask for? ….. um a little more financial stability would be lovely 🙂

    But as a whole, I am SO LUCKY! Thanks for the Uttanita teaching! uttanita = upside down, turned around = creating space and seeing things in a whole new way!


    • christie July 10, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

      Thank you so much Elsie! Love that you are also rocking the full time mom/business woman lifestyle. I’m not sure I could have done my business any other way and been happy! Uttanita, indeed!

  7. Linda July 9, 2012 at 2:34 am #

    Being a mom is one of the most precious things in life, but many of us feel we need more. Especially if we have the “entrepreneurial” gene. 🙂 And what a great thing to teach your kids! Sideways or not, making the most of what you have will come a long way and being uniquely you is fantastic!

  8. Chelsea Bond July 9, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

    I absolutely love this! As a woman who has been so career-focused and unsure of motherhood due to the fact I thought I could never manage to grow a business and take care of another human being (besides my husband and fur babies), this definitely gives me hope 🙂

    • christie July 10, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

      It’s a wild ride, Chelsea. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  9. Christyna July 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm #


    This “see the choice we’ve made, the winding, twisty, around-the-mountain-and-back approaches to business that we’ve taken because they allowed us to honor all parts of ourselves.”
    made my heart do a double flip . Thank you for articulating so well how absolutely powerful it is to honor our journey and our own values. Having a business, a thriving, profitable, business can be and ought to be one aspect of an integrated, vibrant whole life.

    That sentence, honoring our unique combination of values and circumstances is why my business exists. Love!

  10. Tracey Ceurvels July 12, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    Christie, I can so relate to this! As a mom running a business it’s taken me a while to find my groove: sideways, backwards, the “the winding, twisty, around-the-mountain-and-back approaches to business that we’ve taken because they allowed us to honor all parts of ourselves.” Thank you…and for the reminder to celebrate.

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