Starting a Small Business With SMA

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by Alyssa Silva |

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In October, I fulfilled a childhood dream of mine by finally opening an online art shop.

For years, friends and family encouraged me to do this. While I’m no Rembrandt, I have always enjoyed expressing my creativity in the form of drawings. Art is my favorite form of therapy. It helps me decompress and shut off most of my brain for a while. Most people know me as a writer, but it was art that was my first love.

The thought of launching a shop was just as exhilarating as it was terrifying. A newly established entrepreneur, I felt the same excitement and fears as everyone else. On one end, selling my artwork meant I would ultimately use my passion to bring joy to others. How amazing is that? But then I also had to contend with the common fears that come with launching a new business.

How do I create a streamlined system from the point of sale to fulfilling each order? What is a reasonable budget for inventory? How do I build brand loyalty so my customers will make future purchases? And how the heck do taxes work?

While mulling over these fears, I had another issue at the forefront of my mind, one that not every business owner will face. Can I keep up with the demands of the business, given the demands of my disease?

In this community, it’s often said that managing SMA is its own full-time job. I couldn’t agree more. It takes heart. It takes grit. And it takes more energy out of me than I choose to admit. However, these are the hands I’ve been dealt, and I choose to play them well.

That being said, while my health is my main priority, I also have friends, family, three jobs (yes, I am out of my mind), and the everyday nuances of life that occupy my time. In other words, life is busy in my little world. But not only that — it is also fragile.

There are days when I wake up extremely fatigued and groggy, unable to finish my workload for the day. There are days when I feel energized but then suddenly have crippling pain, leaving me no other choice than to rest. And, of course, there are days when the inevitable illness strikes my body and everything else in my life must come to a screeching halt.

Knowing these realities always left me wary of starting my own business. However, this year I’ve been given the gift of time: time to think about life, time to prioritize what matters most, and time to act on all the dreams in life I meant to accomplish sooner. I’ve realized that while there are days when SMA puts up a good fight, it has never held me back from accomplishing whatever it is I set my mind to.

SMA may have won a few battles, but it has never won the war.

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Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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