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Building Toward the Next Step: Making Things Happen Versus Making Things

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Today’s guest blog post comes from SpringBoard graduate Christina Getachew of Substance. As the founder of Substance, Christina started her sustainable women’s clothing and accessories store and design line at her dining room table.  More than 10 years later, she now runs two stores in Columbus, Ohio and Cincinnati’s Over-The-Rhine neighborhood. Christina joins the SpringBoard blog today to talk about putting creative work on the back burner in order to build a foundation for your company. 

Ask any small business owner, and they’ll tell you that along with the freedom and empowerment of being an entrepreneur, there’s definitely a down side. One thing I hadn’t anticipated about being a small business owner is that all of the daily tasks and decisions that require my attention make it impossible for me to take the time to be creative and make things—in short, the part of my business that drove me to create it in the first place. As the decision-maker for my business, I spend all day, every day, making phone calls, deals, short term and long range plans. I also make lots of customers happy, which is rewarding, but I don’t get to sit down at a sewing machine and make anything, and I miss that. I know a few life coaches that may be reading this right now who are itching to shoot me some advice about how I can achieve work/life balance and the time to do what I love. It’s advice I’ve even given to aspiring entrepreneurs myself:

“Make the time to do what you love and hire people to do the other stuff.”

Well, here’s the thing about that. To an extent, it’s true. But there may come a time in your business when you won’t be able to carve out that time. Sometimes building towards the next step requires everything of you. That’s where I am with my business right now: in a place where the growth of my business requires all my creative time and energy. Currently, I’m dedicated to making things happen instead of making things.

I keep at it, because I know the day will come when I can carve out that time for myself. I know this because I’m building the foundation of a company that does make things. My staff at Substance, in addition to helping me run two successful retail stores, also makes beautiful, unique clothing collections each quarter in our Design Lab. I’m always excited about their designs and inspired by the work they put in to creating them. I’ll never stop working to achieve that ideal situation that gives me time to act on that inspiration, to sit down at a sewing machine or on a park bench with a sketch pad. For now, I have to continue making the big ideas, goals, plans, so that I can pass that time and space on to my team, giving them the resources they need to make things that continue to inspire me.

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