My business, Catherine Coaches, turned 3 years old this week. It has taken me a long time to admit to myself that I'm an entrepreneur. Maybe it's the expectation that comes with declaring yourself one, and it does not help that I live in the center of Silicon Valley. Every where I look there are businesses people have come to know and love (Facebook, Apple, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Evernote, etc.).
Even 3 years later, people still struggle with the idea of what I do. Some people have chosen not to connect with me professionally on LinkedIn because of the sexual aspect of what I do. I barely discuss my business with my immediate family. And since I don't physically see or talk with my in-laws, they are blissfully out of the loop over what I may be doing.
Some men still contact me asking if I am available as a masturbation coach, and, oh yeah, they want to schedule a coaching session within 24 hours. Apparently it doesn't matter that I am strictly hands off and do not offer masturbation coach services. I also tend to get a lot of texts from people whose number I don't recognize and their only message is "Catherine?" or "Hello". This is one of the biggest reasons I tend to screen my phone calls.
I love my job and am so incredibly proud of what I have built in just 3 years. I'm the first to admit that parts of my success have come with very little effort. Maybe it doesn't seem like effort because I truly adore what I do. On the other hand, other types of success prove elusive.
I'm really happy to be where I am today considering there were a lot of deeply personal challenges that could have caused me to abandon my business. I've been on the fence about posting this, but I truly feel that I need to get this information out if I want to move forward.
Just prior to me putting my business plan together, my long time therapist became very sick and put her practice on hold. My mom, who had been sick for years, took a turn for the worse and was clearly not going to be alive much longer.
I was super excited that she was the first person (besides my husband) who got to see the launching of my business with the first version of my website.My mom was also the one person in my life who I was most like. She "got" me in a way no one else my family does. As the baby in my family I secretly didn't want to be present when my mom passed. So, of course, I was the only one home when I knew she wouldn't make it through the day. Having to call everyone in my family so they could say their last words to her as I held the phone to her ear is the single hardest thing I will ever go through in my life. Everyone travelled from out of state to be by her side. Just like what you hear from many people who have dealt with death, my mom held on until we were all at her side. My mom passed away the week after my business launched. I posted my first blog entry a week after her death.
Needless to say, I was wondering if I should just shelf my business all together.
A few months later I was away from home for a week for a small family memorial for my mom. The first cat I got with my now husband right after we graduated from college had stopped eating while we were out of town. After 2 days of emergency care my cat was sent home with the orders that we should bring him back for a check up the next week. I was completely shocked and distraught when my cat died in my arms less than 24 hours later. I was alone when he passed. That week I booked my first coaching client.
Challenge # 3
Remember how I mentioned that my therapist stopped her practice due to a sudden illness? I had changed phones and lost her number so I did what everyone else would do--I googled her. It was surreal to see her obituary notice. I had grown to love my therapist and was so sad to have to find out about her death this way. One of the last things she said to me was that she looked forward to seeing my business plan for Catherine Coaches. She passed away before ever knowing my business had launched. The person that I needed to help me process the deaths of my mom and my cat was gone.
I was someone who didn't have any first hand experience with death. 3 deaths in such a short amount of time was like a repeated kick in the stomach and almost too much for me to handle.
At times I wondered if all this death was someone else's way of telling me that Catherine Coaches was never going to work. I knew in my heart that this business what the right path for me.
This was post that I never expected or even had the desire to share with others. It's so deeply personal and it has been difficult for me to write.
3 years later, I am proud of where I am. Especially since it could have been so easy for me to have just closed up shop. I've accomplished a lot in 3 years. There is still so much more work to do. I'm happy I have soldiered on while managing to maintain most of my sanity and sense of humor. I'm so sorry that my mom didn't live to see what I have built in the past 3 years, but I feel like she is still with me in every single blog entry I post.