Staring me in the face for the last five years has been my home mortgage. It was put on hold while the business grew. I had one of those interest only affairs, with no risk, since you could just get another one when it was up. Why pay down the principal when your house is making 10% a year? We all know how that turned out. So the meta of running the store, the motivator for five years now, has been not to lose my house. This meant making enough money to pay the new mortgage or making more money elsewhere. Elsewhere equals something involving computers.
I'm happy to say that this motivator was successful, both with some record sales so far this year (August was up 27% from last year) and a recent change in mortgage terms that I can afford. This has had a significant psychological effect on me as well. My mental time line for the business pretty much ended in October. There was pre-mortgage change, and all of time and space after that, with my mental energy going to the former. With my horizons expanded, I can now plan for the future, think long term strategy, and run a business in an unusual (old?) fashion, without short term gains as the sole motivator.
The fast approaching five year mark also allows me to accept my fate. I'm a small business owner. There, I said it. I will likely remain a small business owner, with all the perks, responsibilities and long term planning that entails. If I cease to be a small business owner, my motivation would be to get back in the saddle as quickly as possible. I really love it, by the way. I enjoy the processes, the variation, the independence, and even the people. Yes, you guys! I originally planned on being this back room owner who hid in the office to calculate his next move. Being the counter jockey has turned out to be very fulfilling, and it has changed my personality in positive ways. I'm more open, accepting, and I sincerely enjoy the varieties of people I encounter each day.
However, before now, I felt like I had one foot in my old life and one foot in retail. Like I was still dabbling in the past. In the back of my mind, at any moment I could find myself thrown back into a lonely, sterile cube farm diagnosing servers or designing a network. Although I still take IT work and want the extra side job, I'm fully a small business owner now. This change in modality has allowed me to shut the door on my past and embrace the present. It's subtle, but unbelievably liberating. It's a bit scary too.