Here we are. The end of 2018. Finally.
At least that's the feeling for some. For me, it's more of an "already"?! What just happened? Where did it go? Why am I so tired?
It's a common reaction to the end of the first year for any new business owner. The first year is BANANAS (that's grocer lingo) and WOW have we come a long way. I've come a long way.
It went by fast but who I am today is soooo different than 2017 me. The craziest part? We haven't even been open one year yet! It's just the beginning of the 3rd quarter for us. But this is a time for reflection. A time to review progress and accomplishments, fine-tune plans, and set new goals.
Hopefully, someone who is in the place I was last year, getting ready to go all-in on a scary, risky, big idea, can find some inspiration and motivation from me. If not, it's still good material to write about. Because I've been advised to blog, so I blog.
Last December I committed to this business and things were rolling, but I had no idea what was (really) in store. I knew I had the organization, ability to learn new things, and tenacity to make my vision a reality; but I couldn't fathom the patience, trust, and adaptability that I would develop. I look forward to honing them even more next year. Most people who know me know that trust and patience aren't really defining characteristics of who I am. But they are necessary in this game. Not many things in life are an overnight success, and I've learned to be grateful for slow growth (and it IS growing, thank you!) and to trust the process (and other people). It has allowed me the time and space needed to analyze our procedures, develop our brand, and grow the business in a manageable way.
The adaptability I've developed is something I'm most proud of. The #hustle is really just constantly searching for ways to improve. Brain-storming, trying new things, problem-solving, seeking advice, tweaking, rearranging, researching, regrouping, and so on.
That part comes easy to me because I get bored quickly. I always look for things to improve and new challenges to take on.
But the other side of that coin is letting go of firm beliefs about how things "should be" in our big ideas. Taking on new things means getting rid of old things too. That's where I've most been able to adapt myself and this business and allow what is meant to become, to become. Newfound flexibility and trust in the process has also developed a new level of confidence and comfort that I am LOVING and I know is going to help me so much in the next year.
I've mastered so many new skills!
When they say small business owners have to do everything, they mean EVERYTHING.
Even in delegating, you learn so many things that you never thought you'd need to know. The amount of information and systems I've navigated this year is RIDICULOUS. From applications and licenses, permits and red tape, to all aspects of construction and contracting this building, connecting with vendors, ordering and inventory management, pricing strategies and sales, press releases and interviews, hiring and managing employees, payroll and taxes, curating content and maintaining social media accounts, website and graphic design, loyalty programs and customer communication, marketing and advertising, business accounting and analytics, networking and counseling, ordering and learning the ins-and-outs of new equipment and programs, and blogging of course.
I'm definitely not bored. And yet, oddly... somehow... I'm not overwhelmed (most days) either. I don't feel I've bitten off more than I can chew. I have a new level of strength and capacity to handle chaos AND I've been able to prioritize the things I care about more than ever before. My most important tool this year has been my Passion Planner, gifted last Christmas by a very thoughtful friend. It helped me set goals, organize my time and to-do list and ideas, and guided me in a regular review of my priorities. I built this business while maintaining another full-time job, enjoying more fulfilling relationships with friends and family, serving on a non-profit board, sleeping better, playing a team sport, reading more, volunteering, going out, getting my butt to the gym, enjoying the outdoor activities I love, even reading with students at my daughter's school. I know! I'm kind of impressed myself.
If I could give any new entrepreneur a bit of advice, it would be to prioritize the absolute basics of self-care. Keep your New Year resolutions simple and focus on water intake and sleep. Add in exercise, food prep, meditation or relationship goals slowly after tackling some of your business goals. You don't need to add dealing with guilt or shame to your plate. Make your goals realistic and manageable, but don't skip the self-care.
Also, GO FOR IT! If you're toying with any big idea or weighing some risk, just flipping DO IT.
Just considering the leap is brave, but you'll nurture more skills and courage along the way (if you want to). Life is short, do the thing.
I am continuing to enjoy where I'm at as a novice business owner. The ups and downs and changes that are necessary for a business to refine itself are something I no longer fear (as much). The skills I was forced to develop are beyond what I could have imagined, and I would not have survived this year without them. Where we have ended up this year has been a pleasant surprise. Because the end result of any idea is usually so far from the initial vision. And that is a good thing. Cheers!