I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. —Maya Angelou
That Maya Angelou quote has been my guide over the past two decades of entrepreneurship. When I hosted the Tranquil Space team farewell party after selling the studio in 2017, I incorporated this quote into my speech and encouraged others to take this Tranquil Space mantra with them. It’s gold.
Growing up in Oklahoma, I never envisioned myself starting a business. Yet when I moved to DC and found myself disenchanted with adulting and craving community, I decided to invite strangers into my living room for yoga. This was 1999. I quickly learned that I enjoyed the process of setting up a nurturing environment, connecting with clients, and seeing the studio grow.
Over the years, I added workshops in 2000, staff, retreats, and a teacher training in 2001, a clothing line in 2002, a blog in 2004, a podcast in 2005, a book and non-profit in 2006, another location in 2007, and a 4,000-square-foot flagship location complete with chandeliers and reclaimed wood in 2008. All of this was followed by more books, online programs, a two-month Tranquility Tour across North America in a vintage camper in 2013 (including a fun stop in Montreal), and, in 2017, the selling of my baby to a yoga chain.
When the studio was turning 10 in 2009, I began to ponder the next decade. How did I want it to look? How did I want to feel? What was/wasn’t working? Before I could do a deep dive into this, I decided to return to graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in social work with the intention of adding psychotherapy into my offerings. Little did I know then that it would be a major transition for me down the road.
During this process of running multiple businesses, connecting with an online community, and going to graduate school, I struggled to find inner peace AND productivity.
While I would never claim to have found the magic potion, I definitely have tools and experience trying to juggle both over the past 20 years. From making the leap into self-employment (scary!), to signing my first commercial lease, to taking on massive debt during a recession (super scary!), to selling a business, to opening a private psychotherapy practice, I’ve learned a lot along the way.
Entrepreneurship is defined by Wikipedia as “a process of designing, launching and running a new business, which is often initially a small business.” Although you may not be in the market to launch a new enterprise, each day you ARE launching your own personal empire. After all, you are the boss of YOU! Benefits include creating community, developing leadership skills, seeing your work change lives, creating products and services you love, and believing in what you do.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to run off and open your own thing, however I’ll bet you’re already doing a little girl bossing. Do you volunteer for an organization? Do you have a side hustle? Do you have a blog, website, YouTube channel, or podcast? Do you have a social media presence? Are you passionate about a particular cause? Do you want to make sure your life and work have an impact? And on and on.
Imagine spending your days working with your strengths and passions while calling your own shots. You can be a homemaker or a 9-to-5er working for a bank and still think of your role within the house or your role within a larger organization as a business.
Businesses need systems to run efficiently, a deep commitment to doing the best work, and a focus on creating an experience—all of that can be done in our everyday lives! Simply by showing up as the best version of ourselves. Being an entrepreneur (or anyone who goes slightly against the grain) is scary and yet so rewarding. And, frankly, a necessity.
Pay attention to your longings. Observe your strengths. Consider your brand (what people think of when they hear your name). Ask yourself the hard questions (what do I want, need, and feel?) daily. Repeat this Maya Angelou quote to yourself, “Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” You’ve got this!
Kimberly Wilson is a psychotherapist in private practice, the author of six books, and the designer of eco-fashion TranquiliT. She founded Tranquil Space in 1999—named among the top 25 yoga studios in the world by Travel + Leisure and hosts the Tranquility du Jour podcast and blog. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, Fast Company, US News & World Report, Bella Grace, and more. Kimberly lives in Washington, D.C. with four rescue pets and a partner. She dreams of Paris and starting a micro sanctuary for pigs and pugs.