Letter from John: Sitting Still

The worst thing to do when you're running a new business is to sit still.

A story.

When I started Floricane in November of 2008, I had just joined a steady flow of newly unemployed Americans -- more than a million a month, you may recall -- looking for work. A convergenceof factors led Nikole and me to decide to throw the dice and join the entrepreneurial ranks.

As a planner and an organizer, my initial impulse was to spend three or four months mapping out a business strategy before fully committing. And then a little voice in my head said, "Run. Run like h ell."

I'd ignored that voice in the past. In 2008, I chose to listen to its urgent advice. I ran.

By the time my severance from my previous employer ran out in July of 2009, I had two paying projects. With blisters already forming on my entrepreneurial feet, I doubled down and continued the marathon. Two turned into four, turned into eight.

Three summers later, and the race has changed. My friends at The Hodges Partnership (who entered the race six years before I did) like to tell me that success doesn't erase worry. You just worry about different things as you move forward.

Like the worries I carried around this past summer.

It was 126 degrees in June, and getting hotter. The Floricane team began our summer with a lead consultant out on maternity leave, a project manager out on extended leave, a planned move stalled by corporate acquisition, and a major proposal nixed by a technicality. (Read: I dropped the ball. Think: Eggs in one basket.) Even our family summer vacation plans went awry. No, I was not such a relaxed camper as we rolled through the summer.

The nice thing about writing this monthly missive is having the opportunity to reflect on the challenges, opportunities and possibilities of running a business. Also, I get to skip the icky parts. Like all of July.

Because now that August has arrived, we're actually anticipating what comes next. We're at mile 20 of our fourth marathon/year, and not only is the finish line visible but we're making plans for our next race/year.

We've settled into our exciting new space at the heart of the Richmond Times-Dispatch's novel entrepreneurial business hub at 300 East Franklin Street, and our team has been spending some time anticipating what lies ahead for Floricane.

Even as we help the RTD team finalize the selection process for eight small businesses, and build a collaborative culture in this new community, we're going to be extra busy with a host of other collaborations.

We're partnering with the Richmond Symphony and Maestro Steven Smith to roll out their amazing FIRST CHAIR program. The creative team at PUNCH is busy blowing our minds with designs for a stellar new brochure and website. And we're going to be showing up all over town this fall -- on our way to Floricane's 4th anniversary celebration. (Keep your eyes peeled for an invite later in October!)

Best of all, we'll be running at a full sprint with our clients -- old and new, businesses and nonprofits, looking for strategic planning and organizational change support. If there's one thing we're not doing as we move into our fourth year of changing the world, it's sitting still.