Life never quite takes you where you expect to go. It doesn’t matter if you have a plan or you’re winging it, sometimes a plan can be pretty useless. One minute you’re sure all the bases are covered only to realize you’ve missed a few things in the hustle. One of the biggest areas in your life which you’ll try the hardest to make sure is kept on track is your career. People work for years trying to keep the ship steady only to be shifted around from department to department, some find their services are no longer needed, and an unlucky few are victims of unfortunate circumstance. Sometimes these circumstances are where entrepreneurism blooms from. People have to find another way to do what they love instead of taking the familiar pathway that other people have gone down. Being an entrepreneur is about finding a way to overcome obstacles. Sometimes it’s overcoming the lack of a product in the market or it may help you discover a true passion in your life. Whatever the reasons, becoming an entrepreneur is different for each and every person.
Leslie Luckritz of Alexandria Massage Therapy was faced with one such unfortunate circumstance, “I was a professional dancer my whole life. I danced from the time I was two until I graduated from college. Right before I graduated from college, I had a massive trauma to my left knee. I was unable to walk so…no more dancing. When my knee went out I knew I would need to do something to make a living while I was dancing professionally and rehabbing my knee. I talked to a few of my professors and several of them were massage therapists. That’s how they made a living between auditions and they didn’t have to quit their job to go to auditions. I thought that would be an excellent fit. The course was going to be eighteen months and it was going to take my knee two years to heal. I thought at some point I was going to get back to dancing.”
One of the most fascinating parts of the entrepreneurial field is the fact that some entrepreneurs are slower to bloom. It isn’t until they are faced with a crisis of their plans that they discover a completely new plan was already ready and waiting for them to take up. Luckritz faced a similar hurdle. After moving from business to business, she finally found work at a chiropractic office. A client informed her of a massage therapy business being sold and it eventually led to Leslie purchasing the location. “It was just an amazing opportunity. Since about eighteen I started to want to build a wellness center that combined conventional and alternative medicines for the best outcomes for patients who are terminally and chronically ill with a focus on prevention in a utopian environment. When I was going through a lot of this, my father passed away from cancer. Watching him and his struggles and his inability to have a normal life inspired me to want to do this even more. My mom helped me purchase this business and get it up off the ground and then she got sick and died of cancer as well. That fueled my fire even more.”
Finding your footing in the world of business can be a tough one. For those suddenly finding themselves in the thick of being an entrepreneur, trying to figure out the next best move can be a tricky one. Business can be confusing and complicated even for those pursuing the field since a young age. A business owner with a limited background can find that business courses would likely have been helpful. “I probably would have had a little more experience. Management is probably what I’m still working on the most. I would have immediately started business classes when I bought it. I waited two or three years before I started taking business classes. Then I would have known what to do with all those receipts. They definitely would have been beneficial. What I really should have done was talk to a bookkeeper from the first day. That is the one thing I wish I would have done from the beginning. I have had accounting nightmares with accountants. I would have tried to learn more about how to do some bookkeeping.”
Slipping into the role of entrepreneurship and having others looking to you for leadership can be difficult even for the most seasoned workers. It can be extremely difficult if you’re an entrepreneur learning as you go. Juggling the different hats of owning a business and leading your employees can be hard to get a handle on at first but over time the routine becomes familiar. “I may have mentioned I knew nothing about business when I took over,” Leslie says, “So for about six months I just tried to match their model. As I did that, I started to see flaws from my perspective. I started to see things that I wouldn’t want to work here because of. I tried to make the environment match what I wanted as a therapist so it would be my ideal place to work. I slowly started to do that and it took me about a year to get business model more in line with how I wanted to work. My second year I tried to work on marketing and pulling more people in. I was only marginally successful with that. So I took a business class and that was eye-opening in many ways. After that I redecorated. I know that doesn’t sound important, but it brought a cohesiveness that wasn’t there before. I worked on bringing parts of my energy into the space.”
With all the hard work and dedication it takes to be an entrepreneur, the best thing to remember is that you services are always needed in a specific area. Whether it’s a product or a service you’re offering there is a good chance your area is in need. The D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area is a hotbed for entrepreneurship – which leads to a demand for help with relaxation and wellness services. “I grew up here and it’s my home. I understand this area and the people. I see more anger and aggression here than I’ve seen in most other parts of the country. There is no need to hold onto that kind of anger. Those people need some release, some healing, and some wellness in their life. I want to reach those people. This is probably the only place in the world where it is expected and normal to work more than 60 hours a week. Anyone who does that needs a massage on a regular basis.”
Leslie Luckritz is the owner of Alexandria Massage Therapy located in Alexandria, Virginia. For more information on her business, or to connect with Leslie, please visit Alexandria Massage Therapy.