Three lessons from shutting down our home business

Ten years ago, I purchased my first domain name and web hosting package. Emily and I were fresh out of school and ready to take on the world as graphic designers for hire. Earlier this year, we shuttered it for good.

Between running this blog, writing books, raising a family with three very young children, serving in our church, facilitating a small group, creating stock art, and—oh yeah!—my day job, it was pretty clear something had to give. And the thing that lost was the business. Here are three things we learned in the process:

1. We really didn’t love being graphic designers.

Emily is a tremendous illustrator. I’m a pretty okay writer. Neither of us really has a passion for designing things. The skills we learned are helpful and I still use them from time-to-time for little projects here and there, but there’s nothing in us that says “we must design!”

(There is, however, something in Emily that makes her draw funny octopuses [octopi?] and angler fish for iStock.)

2. Life will always change more than you think it will.

This is true whether you’re buying a house, a car, signing up for a cell phone package, or running a business. You know that whole list I mentioned above? None of that was in our lives a decade ago. But a lot changes in 10 years, which is a very good thing.

My original life plan was to draw comic books. My revised plan was to work in the design business, move up the ladder as quickly as I could, and then tell other people what to do.

I do none of those things.

Emily wasn’t planning to be a stay-at-home mom when we graduated from school. She wasn’t sure she even wanted to have kids for a long time. And now she spends the bulk of her days caring for our merry brood (even when they’re not so merry).

3. God always provides in ways we don’t expect.

When we started the business, we really needed the money. We were broke fresh-out-of-college kids. We continued to really need to money for a long time. Or at least we thought we did.

Now, not so much. And it’s not because we subscribe to any sort of prosperity theology drivel. God’s not raining 5-dolla-bills into our living room right now.

Instead, we’ve seen Him do some pretty cool things. Sometimes it’s been in through surprising acts of generosity. There have been a few times (especially early on in our walk with Jesus) where God did indeed provide the money we needed exactly when we needed it. But more consistently, it’s been a heart change that He’s been bringing about.

He’s been slowly driving home a clear point about the attitude we ought to have about money: Contentment. Whether facing scarcity or plenty, we’re increasingly content with what God’s provided—because it’s all we really need. And because He is good, it’s good enough for us.

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  • Aron Utecht

    Just great. I read some of your posts and I think we must know one another. Thanks for sharing your life.

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  • Yanna White

    You are an inspiration. You clearly is a great example of a loving father. You sacrificed business and making money for your family. We all fear of not making money at all. However, you believed that God will provide and money can’t buy the happiness that your family brings. I admire you. Your story is worth sharing.