2013 was an awful year! We left 2012 reaching for the stars, and pretty quickly found ourselves just a few feet short of grabbing on. We were so close… so close to achieving our dreams… being entrepreneurs… building our empire… just not close enough. Maybe if we just let ourselves fall quickly and gracefully; we could have picked up, dusted off and started the climb again. But no, we were kicking and screaming, resisting the descent, and just plain old fighting to keep the dream alive. We were struggling; we were being creative; we never stopped trying. This was our 2013.
There is something so alluring about the start-up business world. It’s exciting. It’s risky. It takes discipline and patience. And the payoff could be enormous. Behind the curtain of every new business, there is a hidden world of Angel Investors, Venture Capital Firms, Bankers, old money, new money and — lots of opportunity for creativity. But for all that, you give up safety, security, and stability (and even an income.) And really how long can you last without it? For us, we have always been “almost there.” When we rubbed elbows with potential investors, we always got the same response “Wow– how amazing. It’s still a little too early, but please, let’s keep in touch when you get a little more growth.” But how do you grow a business without an advertising budget or a revenue stream? Getting dealership partners was easy; getting customer traffic was harder. It’s an age-old question: What came first… the chicken or the egg?
And this is how we started January 2013. We were set to find a way to make money with no money. As ridiculous as our plan was, we were going to make it work. It’s like going to Vegas to win a million dollars but leaving your wallet at home. How do you start gambling without a dollar? And let me tell you, Tom worked every angle to make it happen. We got a local internet streaming partnership; we got a local radio partnership; we fixed our website’s search engine optimization. Granted, everything took months to achieve; but we did have a ton of little wins. Unfortunately, it just was never enough.
Our decision to keep going for it was very difficult and stressful. It was taking a toll on us. Sometimes we found ourselves in the “what if” days. What if we still worked at the radio station… What if we didn’t do this… what if we made the wrong decision…Those days were pretty bad. We had already sacrificed so much and we were already so hard on ourselves, the “what if” days were mostly throw away days. Then came the judgement from people who meant the world to us. We would hear stuff like “let’s talk about the pink elephant in the room. Why doesn’t Aki have a job? Why does Aki do yoga? Why do you eat out occasionally?” They made me feel as if the problem was me. It was even suggested that there was income opportunity in flipping burgers, waiting tables, bartending… Seriously, half the battle was waking up every morning and trying not to second-guess our decisions; but when other people are doing it for us, its devastating.
But somewhere in this ugly mess, we found my childhood heroes… my parents! My parents sacrificed with us, and without fully understanding what we were doing, they continuously believed in our dreams. They took Tom in as their own son, and encouraged us in every shape possible. Their true, true support really helped us continue our march. Even if they thought we made mistakes, they never said it. They were there for us unconditionally… even as grown-ups. And together, with our puppy Jake, we found a way to shut the negativity around us off. We said our goodbyes to the influences that were bringing us down, each in our different ways, and began to move forward.
And when we finally, FINALLY found peace toward the end of 2013 (we decided to put AutoJudo, LLC on hold for a while–our first baby– and work on other endeavors), my dad was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Just like that– we finally hit the ground… 2013 was one heck of a free fall.
So, as we leave 2013, all I can say is that I’m hopeful! I’m hopeful that my dad will kick this stomach cancer in the butt. I am hopeful that Tom will succeed in his new adventure. I am hopeful to grow our little ad agency. And I am hopeful that all the failures of 2013 will turn to successes in 2014.
Goodbye 2013; the year of many lessons, and Welcome 2014; the year of hope and opportunity!