Is this my failure?

Modern quilting group challengesLast Monday I made a very difficult decision. I pulled out of the North West UK Modern Quilter’s guild. Had I been a failure? Thoughts had been brewing for a while and over the Christmas break, I tried to figure out ways to help the feeling of overwhelm. Running a business on your own is difficult. I’m not a natural to it. I have no qualifications in it. I’ve never done it before. I have to step up to the mark on a daily basis and it is tiring. It is all consuming, especially when you’re passionate about it the way I am. I don’t have an uncle who has run his own business and is around to help me, for example. For those reasons and more, I do sometimes get the feeling of overwhelm and fear that I just can’t make it work.

Do I want you to feel sorry for me? No thanks.

Is my situation any different to hundreds of other newbie small business owners? No, it’s very similar. I have been a member of networking groups and business training forums and had business advisors etc and this is all very normal. It often ends though with the business failing within three years, as the business owner gets exhausted or money runs out.

I’m doing the best I can to stop anything negative like that happening. I need to focus on where my skills are and what clients tell me they’d like to be a part of at the studio.

I can’t be everything to everyone. Nobody can.

I need to remind myself of that regularly, which brings me on to the MQG matter.

We had our monthly meet-up on Friday 13th January. During that meeting we had a good time sewing and chatting and we also talked about what is needed to be done to encourage more members and pay for guild activities and membership in 2018 (the first two years of MQG membership are free for guilds but in that time you have to raise money to pay for the January to December membership of the third year). There was much talk about bank accounts, constitutions, logos, social media accounts etc. We allotted roles of secretary and treasurer etc. Alot of business related topics. It made me see that much work was still required by all of us.

Then over the weekend, which started great with the first meeting of the Finish-a-long club (which was excellent!), both ‘him indoors’ and I did our tax returns and it was bad news all round. That just hit me and made me see sense maybe. I just couldn’t give the time and energy to building the NWUKMQG, as well as making Stitchscape a success. I am only one person and no spring chicken either. Valuing my family and balance in life, means that, as ever in life, something has to give. None of us can give our focus on everything; that just isn’t what focus means.

‘Where you place your attention is where the magic happens’

I started the MQG last year because I hoped that modern quilters would recognise the logo and organisation and that would entice them to become members. I thought that was a good way to attract people, rather than just doing my own group. I’m no marketing guru by any stretch of the imagination but that seemed logical. I haven’t attracted enough people to the meetings though. Six was the top number we had at a meeting and that wasn’t a regular occurrence. I tried all kinds of things to promote it, such as asking the MQG to search for local individual members but there are none apparently. I made sure we were listed on the MQG site, so British people could find us. There was a specific email list for them. In that last meeting it was infact decided to change the date from a Friday to the third Saturday of each month. When I posted about it on Instagram, a few people said that Saturday would be better for them. If you’re one of those people, please do get in touch and I’ll forward your email to the group. The guild isn’t right for me now but that doesn’t mean I don’t want it to succeed. Who knows what will be possible in the future for the guild and me?!

The feeling of failure does not mean that you have failed.

Seth Godin has a brief and clear blog post about this. I am upset that I had to let go and write that email to the regulars but on the same token, I feel relieved, as that pressure is off me. It’s not a failure, as I tried. New friendships have been made. I’ve met some great ladies who love quilting and what it gives them in their lives. I have to feel proud that I tried. The ladies are free to continue the guild and I hope they do but I know a couple have sampled the Leeds MQG this weekend, so maybe it’s easier for them to join that existing group rather than work hard to grow this one. They too have jobs to do and families and other hobbies etc. Just because we love quilting and want to meet up and make connections, doesn’t make the rest of our lives stop.

The adjustment is made

Nothing major has happened here. An adjustment has been made. I still have the studio which lets me mix with many sew-a-holics on a daily basis and stitch with them and learn together and basically, have fun and ‘escape time’ to enjoy what we do. I can keep working in the background to make the studio more of a financial success. There are still loads of dreams and schemes I’d like to try. I made this change for the good. If we don’t change, we don’t grow. Only two weeks ago the idea of a patchwork ‘sewcial’ session was born by Christine, who can no longer make it to her old patchwork group, as it’s too far away. The first meeting of that is over-subscribed and is being held on Tuesday 24th January. Possibly a second day every month will be needed for that. It’s all flowing along nicely. Perhaps quilters who aren’t sure if they’re  modern or not will join in with that instead. It’s uncanny how it’s all happened together.

Now was the right time for my move out of the MQG; before bank accounts and constitutions and committees etc were set up to include me. The guild can continue. I haven’t stopped anyone doing anything. That helps me feel good about my decision. I’m still working hard to create a sewing community full of enthusiastic people who want some ‘me time’ to sew amongst others who love what they love. How could anyone feel bad about that?

Be brave out there.

Diane x

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