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Work in Progress

It’s generally taboo in business to talk openly about the business side of your business to your clients. But I got into labyrinth facilitation expressly because the labyrinth provides a container that allows us to talk about things that we really don’t talk about enough. To paraphrase my business coach, I want to show up as my whole ass self. So here I am in all my messy, human glory.

I haven’t been as communicative as I would like the last few months. I’ve dropped hints on social media that I’m busy in the background, and I have been. Very little of what I’ve been working on, though, has produced a tangible result I can post excitedly about on social media yet.

The Intro

In 2023, I formally launched Illuminated Path with a string of amazing events. I worked with phenomenal collaborators who are each magical in their own way and teach me more than I can express. Some of them were billed on events with me, some were the unsung heroes who have befriended and mentored me, and some were exceptional business professionals who have helped me start wrangling what started as a passion project into something that looks more like a professional business. For all the wins, though, it has not been an easy ride.

The Problem(s)

Simultaneously the best and worst thing about being an entrepreneur is that you are your own boss. I have been sick this year a lot more than I’m used to. This means that work that I need to do just doesn’t get done. Marketing and social media engagement is a big area that suffered, and it’s had big consequences that mean that I needed to step back and figure a few things out before I offer future events.

Starting a business requires a lot of trial and error. When you’re starting out, you don’t know what you don’t know. Very rarely does a business offer the same things in the long term that they offered when they first started. Most fold entirely within the first year, many more within the first five.

The last year and a half has been a lot of trial and error for me. I am in a very privileged position to be able to take losses and periods of no income from this business without it impacting my survival or requiring me to shut down the business altogether. However, the “failures” still require me to rethink my approach.

I’ve got some very exciting offerings that had to be put on hold. I do still plan to offer them when the time is right, but the post-mortem on the events we’ve already offered has shown me that I need to slow down and incorporate our lessons-learned to get a better execution plan in place before launching them. (Mostly I need to get my sh*t in a pile for a marketing plan.)

I’ve also struggled with finding a cost-effective way to offer my services regularly in an environment that aligns with my professional ethics. In particular, it is difficult to find business-savvy collaborators whose approach meshes with my evidence-based approach in a market that is glutted with “training courses” that sell you on being ready to go into business after a one- or two-day workshop. I’m very excited about working with Heather Lodge on the Isle of Arran, but my illnesses have impacted my ability to put together my offerings and advertising. (There’s that marketing piece again… starting to see the pattern yet?)

The Side Quest

One of the challenges that has been gumming up the works for Illuminated Path is that my husband, who is my web developer, hasn’t had the bandwidth to develop my website and the online side of the business. I don’t talk about him much because I like to keep my private life off of the internet, but he is the rockstar without whom I couldn’t do any of this. Please don’t take my website as indicative of his excellent capabilities – my vision for even the minimum viable version of my website has changed so many times that we’ve been hobbling along with a patchwork solution that has addressed immediate imminent needs instead of creating something we can both be proud of in the long term.

When I first launched Illuminated Path, he was content with the trajectory of his career. This has been slowly changing and it has become increasingly obvious that it is time for him to move from contracting to fully freelance.

Additionally, the more I grow as an entrepreneur and as an artist, it has become increasingly obvious that there is a much bigger role for me in our vision for his business than the administrative role I’ve had until now.

To that end, we have been hard at work rebranding his graphic design and web development business to something that reflects who we are as a team. Very soon we will be formally launching Bad Egg Digital and my efforts will be focused primarily on that business for a while.

The Future

Does this mean that I am giving up on Illuminated Path?

Absolutely not.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned from Illuminated Path so far, which I only just now feel like I am starting to wrap my head around, is the vital importance of processes. The biggest growth I’ve seen as an entrepreneur and as an artist this year has been in establishing processes.

The Importance of Process

What do you see when you look at the photo attached to this post?

It’s the start of a beaded finger labyrinth I’m making. It’s sitting on a light pad so I can trace the design on the back of the fabric before I start beading.

Looking at this today, though, I didn’t just see a work in progress. I saw the culmination of skills I had to learn and mistakes I had to make to get here. I had to:

  • learn how to bead
  • make a prototype that taught me to properly measure out the labyrinth instead of drawing it freehand
  • learn the hard way that I really needed to use embroidery hoops
  • learn how to use a sewing machine
  • learn that making cute borders with the fabric was way more time-consuming and frustrating than it was really worth
  • make a second prototype that taught me that measuring it out each time is probably still more time consuming that it needs to be (at least unless/until I get practiced enough at drawing labyrinths)
  • learn how to use creative software to make sure that the template I was printing was the right size
  • figure out that I really needed a light pad to trace the template
  • overcome the irrational fear of spending so much money on myself, which ultimately meant that I’ve actually cost myself more time, money, and frustration than I needed to by only giving in and buying the tools I needed as I hit road blocks mid-process

In business, as in art, processes are usually invisible to the audience. But neither would exist without them. (And most consumers haven’t the faintest idea how much you’ve actually had to invest in them.)

Illuminated Path cannot grow and thrive without processes in place. I’ve been spending the last few months refining those processes for both the business and the artwork of Illuminated Path. Establishing Bad Egg Digital will help me further refine those processes, so that when I’m ready to pivot back to investing more energy into Illuminated Path, I can do so more efficiently and more impactfully.

TL;DR

In the meantime, I’m not disappearing altogether. I’m still working on my art and my content for Illuminated Path, but at a much slower pace. There will be improvements to the website coming eventually, I’ll be scheduling more workshops and services availability at Heather Lodge in due course, and I will eventually start listing some of my art pieces for sale or commission. You just won’t likely see much activity from me on a regular basis for a little while.

I’m proud of the growth I’ve seen personally and professionally in the last year and a half. Thank you to those who have supported Illuminated Path so far and made it such a rewarding experience. I look forward to continuing to grow with you all in new ways in the days to come.