Dear Reader,

My name is Aisha. I’m an artist. I quit my day job to make art full time at the end of January. It’s been an interesting year full of amazing highs and lows. Below is an excerpt from my journal about my quest to become a successful small business owner. I hope it will be of some use to you, or at least provide entertainment.

Happy Reading,

Hi again,

So, I went for business counseling session number one and learned the following 3 pearls of wisdom:

#1: Each day’s counseling hours are divided into 2 shifts. So, M, W, F: 10-2 and T, Th: 10-4 include a lunch break of sorts. At lunch break time, the morning counselors leave and the afternoon counselors come in.

#2: Do not come 1/2 hour before lunch. Do not come less than an hour before closing. I made this mistake and learned that, due to the “first come first served” policy, coming at day’s end means you may not get an appointment. This is due in large part also to the fact that, in addition to us first timers, there are the old pros who schedule appointments in advance, so there really aren’t as many drop in appointment slots as you might think.

#3: Bring a specific question you need answered. There’s a sign-in form where you check off what you need help with. The receptionist told me “Don’t worry. It’s your first time. Check off a few!” I did and I got help with zero. I was initially frustrated by this because my appointment went like so:

Counselor: (While scrolling through my multiple choice answers.) So, what do you need help with today?

Me: I have A.D.D. and I’m realizing it’s getting in the way of following through on my business plans. I was hoping I could check-in with someone every so often to make sure I’m not veering off track.

He in response, asks a few questions about my past day jobs, suggests I apply for unemployment to temporarily stave off my money problems, get some medication for the A.D.D., then come back to see him after the meds kick in.

Now, you may not know me personally. Perhaps you’ve come across this blog at random, but those who’ve met me know my day jobs have zilch to do with my current business… I don’t qualify for unemployment because I left my job willingly… And I’m morally opposed to taking western medication. At some point in the counselors’ speech, my brain just shuts off. I begin nodding “uh hunh…”, and assessing what I can do to leave with some useful tools so as not to make the trek a total waste. After delivering his mismatched remedies (well meaning, but as mentioned earlier pretty useless for me…) he gives me his card and tells me to email anytime if I have any questions. Email? Bingo. “Ok, thank-you! Hey, I noticed out front you handed one woman a directory of all the counselors. Are there any that have more of a background in the visual arts? If so, can I contact them by email too?” I ask. He pauses awkwardly. Guess he wasn’t expecting that. I wonder if they have quotas to fill. Shrug. He bounces back in a matter of seconds. Note to self: Counselors take rejection personally, but business people… not so much. Business-person-hat now firmly in place, he opens the directory, points out several people who may fit the bill, and tells me the emails are composed of last names and a standard url. He feels helpful, I feel helped. Good deal.

I also left with a handy business plan development workbook (free!).

Phew. The plan for session 2 is to apply pearl of wisdom #3 to pearl of wisdom #2. Or, in pearl-free terms, I will email ahead of time for an appointment with a counselor who’s a better match. In the meantime, I will work on my business plan.

Stay tuned for blog entry #3