Am I tired of talking about this pandemic? Sure I am.
Do I resent the toll it’s taken on our mental health, our social connections and some small, local businesses? You bet.
But enough of that. I’m choosing to focus on a bright spot. That bright spot is the tirelessly tenacious, positively positive, and stubbornly smiling Susan Howard.
Who, with her husband, were inexplicably moved to leave Toronto and purchase a stretching, tranquil, Dark Sky Preserve property on the edge of a Canadian National Park, back in 2015.
For the next five years, Susan and Neil poured heart & soul & savings into creating The Crossing at Grasslands Vacation Suites.
“Some might call it destiny, some might call it fate. We called it time. Within fourteen months we’d rearranged our lives in Toronto Ontario and moved to The Crossing in southwest Saskatchewan. Now we welcome visitors home to Grasslands National Park.”
The Crossing offers exceptional views, extraordinary hiking and direct access to Grasslands National Park, which is measurably one of the 10 quietest places in all of North America. The property offers pristine views of the night sky and northern lights. A place where light pollution is never an issue. You can fall asleep to coyote howls and wake up to a symphony of bird song. You can enter Mary’s Labyrinth and experience walking meditation, grounded by the land and embraced by wide open skies.
The open sky and unbounded landscape gave Susan and her photographer husband Neil the soul-food and scenery they’d been craving all their lives. Well, the heart knows what it wants. Although the heart doesn’t always excel at business financials, profitability, and break even calculations.
I met Susan on one of my webinars. She had made her way into my own special labyrinth through a referral of a friend. Following the webinar, she reached out to have a conversation.
When we talked, unknown to us, Covid was right around the corner. Soon their borders were closed and the tourism industry pretty much shut down. Susan and Neil had intentionally chosen a lifestyle that provided a hobby that they knew could grow into a business, but they also knew they needed some help to ensure the business grew the way they wanted it to: simply, sustainably, soulfully.
“Hey, I know we have work to do. I know there are adjustments we can make, and that we must make, to keep afloat. This pandemic pushed us in a direction we never, ever foresaw. But I still wouldn’t undo our decision. We did the right thing. I love it here. It’s our forever home. So now we just need to get a clear picture on how we’ll move forward.”
So we began, with no guests to tend to and days free from ironing…
(Seriously… Susan insists on high-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets that require over an hour of ironing each use…)
… we decided to use the time to thrash out the fundamentals of the business. We created their first cash flow statement, organized and analyzed all the expenses and measured potential profitability.
And we made considered, conscientious decisions along the way.
Susan & Neil decided to close down an on-site campground. Even though it brought in revenue, and is actually a pretty workable concept during a pandemic. But it didn’t suit their vibe. So it didn’t make the cut. They are also developing their own not-for-profit Labyrinth pilgrimage site.
Because, listen folks — my clients run businesses of all sizes for all kinds of reasons with all kinds of end goals. I listen and help but I never judge.
I don’t hand out worksheets for fastest-possible-growth or scalability-at-any-cost.
If you want Egyptian cotton sheets for your suites, and you have guests that return just to sleep in those sheets, then great! I’d love to help you find a way to reduce four hours of laundry to two hours, or find somebody local and affordable to take that job off your hands…. But you can KEEP YOUR SHEETS – every time.
I know my job is to help business owners decide what they want and don’t want. If they want to grow & scale, we’ll decide how to do that, together. I do not give off-the-shelf advice.
And it’s one of the things I love about my work — I work with accountants, lawyers, artists, hoteliers, mechanics, consultants and creative agencies. The principles of sound financial practices, knowing your numbers and making smart choices are the same in every business.
At the center of every business is a real human being with a real heart with real needs.
“Anne is helping me look at our numbers through the lens of choice. It’s all about decision-making. We’re not trying to run the world’s least expensive motel here. We want to provide an unforgettable experience for people, some of whom may only visit once in their lives. So we want to be smart about making decisions based in fact by measuring value and deciding how that value contributes to the whole experience.”
You can do what you love, and choose work that feeds you, while building a sustainable, satisfying business. I KNOW you can. In fact — just try me. Give me a call. Let’s talk about your dream, or your idea, or how to help your current business recover from this pandemic.