Being a small business owner isn’t always as glamorous as we sometimes make it out to be. Sure there’s a ton of freedom, which can be great but can also be a downfall for some. There are limitless possibilities out there when you go for them yourself. However the struggle can get real, and that’s when we make that hard decision to see it through Whatever The CAIS or pack it up and live a normal life. This blog is all about those tough times and how we overcome them to reach our goals. If you’re going through a tough time in your business or on your path to reaching any goals let these stories inspire you to keep at it.
My story is what inspired me to create #WhateverTheCAIS and the term itself. This story begins before I even knew CAIS was something I wanted to create. I’ll take you back to 2016….
December 2016 was the worst month of my life...at that time. I was 4 months into my new job as a property manager which at the time I thought was everything I wanted. On December 6, 2016, I’ll never forget that date, my regional manager walked in unannounced. First I was excited to see her as I thought she was coming for more of my training; which I desperately needed from her. I was wrong, she was there to fire me. I was devastated, 5 months pregnant with very little saved up.
I was sure, in my mind that my career was over. I had never been fired before, and had no idea how to deal with it. Eventually, after having my daughter and healing I began to look for work again. By June 2017 I had secured a commercial property management position as an independent contractor. All of the clients were local and small businesses. I found myself giving them advice and helping them build beyond just leasing an office in the building. When the building started to run out of space for small businesses, about 3 months into my working there, the light bulb turned on and I created a space for small businesses within the building. The following January CAIS was born!
It took a couple months to get my bearings and map out a plan. By the end of February 2018 I'd picked an office, got it approved with the owners and got to work. All was going well for about 6 months. The CAIS office was remodeled and up and running. Tenants had occupied the extra spaces and we were starting to build our clientele. Then the building owners I leased from and worked for decided to sell the building. The news was brought to me randomly when someone looking to collaborate with a tenant stopped in my office and showed me the property was up for auction. The news then traveled quickly, and in the process I learned of other problems in the building that could cause an issue for myself and other tenants. Regardless, I continued to work and build CAIS, convincing myself that it would all work out. It didn’t.
In September the owners failed to pay me for work. The building hadn’t sold but they were convinced that I had advised tenants to not pay their rent, and that I would somehow sabotage the sale of the building (at least that’s what I’ve been told). The whole thing erupted and as I looked for work to offset the loss, my name, my business and everything I was building was being drug through the mud. I felt like I was losing everything. A part of me blamed them and an even larger part blamed myself. How could I be so stupid to blindly trust them? I saw the signs but I still made this investment. What was worse, this eruption hurt not only my small business but 10 others who were clients/subtenants of mine. There was no way CAIS was coming out of this mess without bruises.
By November I moved CAIS out of the building. I had no idea what to do with CAIS how to rework my vision without my office and the services I could only provide with an office space. Until one day I said to myself “you cannot let them win. Whatever the case, you have a vision and a damn good one! Get up get over it and find a way to help those you set out to help in the first place.” I got to work writing out my skills and experiences that would benefit small businesses. It became evident that sharing these skills with other entrepreneurs would be the way for me to keep CAIS alive and keep reaching for my dream.
Today CAIS has been completely re-branded. With some help I’ve helped over 50 business with a goal of 300 for the year. With new services, like our small business directory and an upcoming set of business courses I have been able to take a few seemingly horrible moments and shape them into something even bigger than I’d hoped for in the beginning. The biggest reward from all of this is being able to help fellow entrepreneurs connect organically, adapt quickly, inspire others and succeed fully.
On my journey to finding and keeping CAIS I felt lost and wanted to give up. There have been many times where I felt that this just wasn’t going to work. Especially since making the decision to focus solely on CAIS and giving it my all. There have been tears, screams, depression and fear. There’s also been freedom, joy, creativity and friendships. It’s not easy but I’m going to do it Whatever the CAIS.
To anyone looking to start an entrepreneurial journey know that there will be highs and lows. Being your own boss isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, there will come times you feel like quitting. It’s going to take a lot more work and discipline than going into work and being told what to do. But no matter how hard it gets, remember why you started, what your goals are and KEEP AT IT! If you have to revise your plan, re-brand your business, start over but don’t give up on the journey.