I’ve been feeling a lot better in the past two days than I was when I wrote my last two fairly pessimistic posts.
Writing such pessimistic posts wasn’t fun, but I found a benefit in organizing my thoughts on how to continue running a business when I get anxiety from having low energy due to chronic illness.
So after writing a few lists and having some really good discussions with people that I trust, I came up with some strategies that I think will help me. 🙂
From my discussions, I realized that part of what was adding to my pessimism was that my business has grown fairly quickly. And I’m having some growing pains associated with that.
So far, I think I’ve cuddled ~13 people? Considering that almost all of my clients have rescheduled several times and almost all of my appointments are for between 2 and 3 hours… I think I’m over 50 hours of professional cuddling right now.
I know that may not sound like a lot. But for a new business in a field that most people don’t even know about — well, Andi Cuddles is more successful than I thought it would be at 4 months in. Especially since I haven’t even begun to advertise locally.
Without advertising locally, business-wise all but one of my clients have travelled (or have had me travel) from significantly far away.
I’ve travelled to Port Huron (2 hours north of me), Dearborn, Detroit, Flint area (all of these are ~an hour away), and to Grand Rapids (2.5 hours west). I’ve only had one client *from* Washtenaw County! And I’ve had people see me from Ohio, Indiana, and Maryland.
I’ve been hoping that once I start advertising locally, things will become easier. I love what I’m doing, but it’s been a bit of a struggle to travel so far and to cuddle in places that I’ve never been to.
Plus, I know that most professional cuddling clients prefer to have the cuddlist host. Both because of the privacy and because it’s less expensive for them.
Why haven’t I started advertising locally?
I’m very open about being a professional cuddler when people ask about my job. And even though I’d say that 90% of them have never heard of professional cuddling, they’ve all thought it was really cool once I explained it to them. BUT…
When I’ve contacted people who are subleasing a space in their office, people have been REALLY judgmental. Although there are A MILLION massage therapists and psychotherapists in the area who are looking to share a space… they’ve told me they’re ‘not comfortable with my profession.’ This is ironic to me since a massage therapists clients are naked, and I’ve had one therapist recommend me to their client.
I’m aware that when I contact these folks that they may not know anything about professional cuddling. So, I always include a nice message that gives a brief explanation and link them to my blog and my Cuddlist profile. I’ve even offered to meet them, buy them coffee, and talk to them about it in person. (Aside from giving them more information, I really feel like I have nearly the ‘opposite’ of a prostitution vibe. I dress like an upscale hippie or in really geeky T-shirts. I have a very open face. I’m 37. I have two kids and a husband who know what I do and support me. My sister knows! My 81-year-old father knows!) But still no.
So, when I start advertising locally, I want to make sure I look as professional as possible.
At the very least, I wanted to get my Cuddlist training under my belt (DONE!), and have a professional logo and business cards made (ALMOST DONE!). I was also hoping to be close to renting a cuddle office (HAVING TROUBLE).
In a burst of hope, two weeks ago I contacted the Ann Arbor News to see if they’d be interested in doing an article on my business, since it’s unusual in this area. I figured it was a long shot, but if it happened it would be a big help in legitimizing my business and evangelizing for professional cuddling.
They responded within two days and said they were interested. The only catch was they wanted to not only do an interview, but to professionally photograph and video record a cuddling session as part of the article (the video portion being for their online edition).
And my clients are mostly ‘in the closet’ about seeing a professional cuddler. And many of them live quite a ways away. So, even though I’ve offered a free one hour session in addition to the Ann Arbor News session, I can’t find any clients to work with! And they really want a ‘real’ client! And since it’s been two weeks since their first response, I think I’m starting to frustrate them.
(So, if you know anyone who’s interested, please, PLEASE let me know ASAP! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
So, long story long, I think these issues have been adding to my business ennui. Has anyone out there faced similar speed bumps when starting a business? I’d love to hear about it. Comment below. 😀