What’s Next for Small Business? Author Lyndsey Clutteur DePalma explains in her newest book, “Ready: What to Expect When Starting a Business”

September 2020: A Note from Hope & Cynthia — For years, we have been a big fans of Lyndsey Clutteur DePalma, creator of a wonderful company called House of Steep in Arlington, VA. Guests could order beautiful pots of hot steamed tea and healthy treats while they communed and / or worked in her cafe, waiting for their reflexology treatment. It was a gift for the mind, body and soul.

She sold the business in 2017 when parenting her two sons took hold of her heart and life. In the years since, Lyndsey has developed a consulting business to help other small business owners with their start-ups. She also has put her entrepreneurial savvy to work penning the 2019 business book, Ready: What to Expect When Starting a Business — another gift from this Truly Amazing Woman!

Scroll down for more about “Ready,” Lyndsey’s life today parenting two small kids in a pandemic, and her forecast for What’s Next for Entrepreneurs!

What’s Next for Entrepreneurs: What to Expect When Starting a Business

By Lyndsey Clutteur DePalma

I had no idea my mashed up dandelion perfumery would foretell my future of essential oil foot baths and teas (including dandelion good for the liver) 23 years later.

I had no idea the seeds my great grandmother Agnes was planting on an appreciation for herbs would become a calling to bring back more natural remedies to common ailments. I never knew the desire to create was deeply rooted inside me. And, I never would have guessed the respect I had for my mom and grandmother who were breaking the mold of women in my small town by doing their own businesses would imprint so profoundly on me. But they did.

I grew up in a spot that had two stop lights (it now has three) and fell hard for the word processing tools of 1994. I had fun typing plunking keys since cable TV or video games were out of the question. I created short stories and learned about bigger words simply by right clicking on a thesaurus of six options (back when menus were simple). My vernacular expanded and thus was born a love for writing, because it was either that or cow tipping on the weekends.

I followed in my sister’s footsteps because, well, she was the coolest person around, and went to school to study Biology. My association with pipettes and molecules ended with my degree, or so I thought, while my sister carried on a career in the pharmaceutical industry (turned yoga studio owner; read the book to learn more there!).

I started my first business, the tea and reflexology shop House of Steep, after receiving a MBA at night while working a career I liked but didn’t feel attached to. I didn’t set out to be an entrepreneur when going to graduate school, but did know that after pouring over business plans and successful strategies, my destiny was not going to be tied to a performance review. Rather, it was hinged in seeing a direct correlation to creating something and then standing back to regard it’s beauty. One of the many lessons I learned in my business adventure was how little other entrepreneurs were talking about the surprises — and the scary stuff.

Like — just how difficult it would be to earn the respect of professionals that held the keys to your success (like bankers and brokers) and how much calling deep on your strength would be required to continue on this path (which, notably, was also punctuated with pleasant rewards as well.) I was surprised at how little her education prepared her for the journey, but how meaningful every dollar earned doing something you love could be.

I love asking the question ‘what makes you tick?’ (rather than ‘what do you do?’). I love closing my eyes and letting my nose guide me around a room. I love pretending I was a dog in a former life. I love listening to my intuition — and really love my two boys who bring me more openness and joy than I could have imagined.

A good day for me is when I find reminders that every single moment of my history were baby steps for this very moment. My circuitous path from Bachelors degree in biology to stumbling upon a career as an HR Manager to my MBA comes full circle regularly. Another good day is when I remember my gratitude and meditation practice, and get to watch how it affects my responses and overall enjoyment of life.

And the best day of all is when a reader finds any part of my story helpful to lighting up their own path.

Be Sure to Check Out — “Ready: What to Expect When Starting a Business.” And scroll down to learn about what she’s coming for entrepreneurs!

What’s Next for Entrepreneurs: Starting a New Business

Hope & Cynthia: Both of us have known you for ages when we lived in DC. So today, from our homes in Las Cruces, NM, we are so excited to reconnect and talk with you about your book, Ready, and your thoughts and perspective on what’s happening in the world of entrepreneurship as we head into the  6th month of the COVID-19 pandemic. Take us back and tell us about your business / industry and where it was before the pandemic hit in March 2020. 

Lyndsey: I help startups find their footing and entrepreneurs to have a little space to create (or procreate, in the instance of needing a maternity leave).  To pay the bills though, I work with companies to operationalize processes and invite ease into employees’ lives and flow to the bottom line.  So, what was I doing on March 13? It was business as usual for me. Everyone wanted less race and more of that high-functioning feeling. Book sales were average but both small and large companies I support were not at all prepared for the story that was about to become, ‘concepts coping with COVID19.’

I’d hashtag that but if you’re following me, you know, I only post that which inspires me, so…. Not much to post right now.  Except the quiet that brought ideation and (we’ll see in 9 months) perhaps recreation.  But back to #conceptscopingwitthcovid, as everyone has come to appreciate, not a single business had back up strategies to accommodate overnight crisis. So, while revealing, yes, most of my clients and partners were tending to the whiplash and not as much of the reality this meant.  Even futurists with (admittedly accurate) grim forecasts didn’t seem to speak much of the entirely different business models they would need to create.

For my startups, I always coach to have a worst case scenario… partial launches, delayed investments, and “beyond bootstrapping” measures.  Never had I imagined coaching folks to write a completely different concept plan that probably doesn’t work out in the long run, and and probably won’t satisfy your basic needs until some undetermined time.

Jump to April 13, startups phones were not ringing. But the world was still optimistic.  We were doing what we had to for humanity. If we needed to go through the scary steps of applying for (hopefully) forgivable loans to keep our employees comfortable and the economy afloat, it was worth it.

Now, fast forward to June 13, even my large company contract was questionable. They saw the value I offer in constantly improving programs and of course had longer runways of budget to work with.  My entrepreneur gang had started talking about shuttering and asking questions about which parts of their business were salvageable.

Even with PPP and local jurisdiction grants, the energy was just not there. Entrepreneurs in flow know it when they’re approaching it. They can see it a mile away. By that point, many people, with thin margins, plus the ‘mortality reality’ that comes into play when we have babies or hit that point of decision (is this my life or am I willing to change it) all came crashing together and most businesses in my network and in my community were figuring out exit strategies or how long they could subside until their lease or their next gig would allow.

Pre-pandemic my purview of business was expansive, post pandemic, every business that I’m exposed to has contracted.  There are a lucky few, but no one is immune from the impact or the stress of thinking about the potential impact, of this new wrench that will define how businesses are started and planned for in the future.

Hope & Cynthia: Where were you personally in your life when COVID-19 arrived in the US? What were your short and long-term goals at that time? 

Lyndsey: I’m wanting to answer this because for me, it was the most epic, tenuous, and revealing time of my life. But I need to pause and reflect because even in the stillness, I’m swirling about future state and not as much what is. My kids are 4 and 5. Beautifully open, imaginative, creative. My work was not satisfying my personal goals, but still alright. My relationship – that is a whole ‘nother story.  The cliffs notes are that my partner of 13 years and I decided to split late 2019.

We needed to stop being disappointed in each other and more focused on modeling healthy relationships for our kids. They deserved better, those sunshiny spirits we were blessed to create. Goals then: Ease, healthy relationships, prosperity through enterprise. Goals now: Same, but add broader thinking because the mindset and low vibe energy isn’t helping me, and I don’t see it helping the world. Long term: Help my babes to see that hardship is a passing wave. I’m troubled by the news and if I can keep their aperture in relative balance, they can see that depression may come but there’s always something to celebrate.

I relate so many of my parenting stories to business (as done in book 1 and also sketches for book 2 and 3), so I think there’s something to the patterns that I’m looking at both personally and professionally. Here again, the goals aren’t much if you don’t reflect on them, so I feel like I’m still on track, but boy has the perspective shifted.

Hope & Cynthia: What are your thoughts now about your industry, your business, your personal life, your heart?

Lyndsey:  Small businesses will suffer. No question about it. Their margins will be too thin and timing will not be right for their sustainability. Out of this mud, future businesses may take fewer risks and half-approach their dreams, but strong, well-thought out plans will emerge. My business is too, getting a healthy check up.  The questions I used to solve for will probably come back around, but for now, while in this uncertainty, I’m defining what it means to be human and alive in my work, and inviting businesses to join me in this inquiry.

Hope & Cynthia: Now the big question — What do you see coming next? 


  • For your industry: Business owners will not see the margins they are used to for another 5 years, if my predictions are accurate. Creativity will emerge, but it will be clunky like most new revolutions. Technology will be a hero, but once we silence the noise to allow leaders to emerge.  We need this quiet, but we also need each other, so I sincerely hope that while tech is a hero, humanity will be at the heart of this shift.
  • For your company: Personally, this awareness has reminded me that while I’m motivated to help, I need to make sure my own mask is on. Consulting with small businesses is where my heart is, but feeding my babes and keeping an eye on my future is what matters, while I still have relevant skills. I’ll be more selective with clients in the future as everything begins again to stabilize, and I’ll be more focused on arrangements that help me excel. It’s sad, but ultimately the sanity I coach my clients on is what I have to apply to my life and business model right now.
  • For yourself: I am rooting in my goodness, and sketching what that looks like to be a blank slate.
  • For the country: I pray it’s a mass awakening for each of us — not for the fantastic stories we’ve fed our psyche to soothe our fears. I pray it’s an orientation with love, but I know it’s on me to vibrate that out to counterbalance the fear. And my prayer and plan is to set the example of ‘in spite of it, scatter peace’ starting with my boys, then my family, then the community — and hope it gets syndicated.
  • For the world: I am struggling to imagine this one. I can be optimistic, and often I’m right (or the invitation is met by the universe), but with so many competing priorities, and the fact that my immediate cylindrical force is still needing loving kindness, I’m going to narrow my scope to my country. It needs all the love it can get. But check back with me in 3 years – I love to think global.
  • For women: this is our time.  If there was ever a time to call on our innate skills to heal our loved ones, it’s now, two fold. If there was ever a time to siren and arouse the beast, it’s now. We have the compass and the capabilities. Let’s all be alive for the life that we bear.  We have moved past every single mountain in our history. Some are larger than others, but mighty we are, let’s unify and make the history we need for this world.

Hope & Cynthia: One more question — now tell us the one question we didn’t ask you — and give us your response.

Lyndsey: What’s the one thing? To get out of whatever rut you’re in (we all are in), if you do one thing today or this week, let it be for your purpose.  Homeless people are pulling themselves into possibility just by imagining. We can align with ourselves and our humanity by finding a practice of keeping the hope.  We can not only raise our frequency but perhaps find a beautiful business possibility just by thinking expansively.  So, one thing – what’s one thing you can do for yourself every day that lights you up? That’s for you to decide, but whatever it is, do it boldly – for yourself and for our collective vibration.

Ready is for the entrepreneur who has found their purpose and needs to step from today into what’s possible. Entrepreneurship will ignite you, if you align with your purpose. The universe will meet you if you allow it by doing the work. Use mental space for bigger things that can unlock your heart and potential.

The world and its preferences are changing. Don’t let that be your compass. Let your heart be your guide. This pandemic has revealed a lot. My question to your readers is: What’s the one beautiful thing it has revealed for you?