The Business Diaries: Learning My Way Through

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At the start of this year, Dana and I sat down and wrote a business plan.  Actually, that is not true.  We didn’t write a true blue traditional business plan.  We still need to do that.  Shameful I realize.

We wrote what we are calling a “Marketing and Sales Plan”.  On it is a bulleted list of what we need to do for each quarter of the year to reach our goals.  This type of “plan” works for me.  Figure out what I need to do and then go do it.

And so, for six weeks or so that is what I have been doing.  I am have been working on new candle sizes and fragrances.  I have been working on getting samples for our home decor line.  I have been sourcing packaging options for gift packages for the holidays.  I have been working on the cookbook, a catalog and marketing materials.

Guess how many of those things I have completed?  Guess how many samples I have in my hand?

None.

I haven’t checked one thing off of the list.

Not for a lack of trying, but I am learning all of this takes so long and there are so many variables that you just don’t know until you try.  I am feeling frustrated and deflated.  I am not expecting everything to be checked off,  I just  want to check off one thing.

Just one.

To make matters worse, I have let things go on the blog here so that I could focus on the “list”.  My house is still “undecorated” after Christmas, dinners have been take-out or frozen pizza far too many times and we are not even going to discuss my “workout schedule”.

I do not share this to get sympathy or for to make you feel “sorry for me”.  I share this because many people around me, who are way smarter than me, have been telling me that this is part of my story.  That the struggles should be shared as much as the triumphs.  I have always avoid sharing the struggles.  I will tell you that it is because I am not looking for sympathy or “fishing for encouragement”.  And that is true.  But if I am really being honest here, it is also because I hate admitting when I struggle.

And if I am really really honest, it is also because I am scared.  So incredibly scared of failing.

We made the jump.  We have to make this business work.

And so I start from here.

Today is a new day and I am learning my way through it.

I am learning the balance between setting deadlines for yourself to keep moving forward and accepting that there are limitations that are out of your control.

I am learning that keeping my desk and office space organized and clean is a something I must do everyday to keep up and keep myself sane.

I am learning that as teenagers, my kids need me a lot.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.    The reason we work for ourselves is so that we have that flexibility to be with our family when we need to.  Sometimes, that leads to making choices and letting opportunities go, even when they are painful.

I am learning that this suppose to be hard.  I am hoping that the hard will lead to the success feeling even better.

I am learning that I can’t do it alone and I am thankful for the people who have chosen to share their time, ideas and opinions with me.  I can’t see it sometimes when I am so in it.

I am learning that I am impressed as hell with anyone who has successfully launched a business and is still running it.  I want to know how they did it, how they made all of the decisions and if they will have coffee with me next week.

When I first shared with you that Dana left his job and there were so many unknowns, I wanted to focus on what I knew.  I guess I haven’t changed too much, always wanting to know.  Now I am learning, okay trying to learn, that it is okay there are so many unknowns.

One day at a time.

As always, thank you so much for taking the time to read.

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18 thoughts on “The Business Diaries: Learning My Way Through”

Comments

  1. Laura,
    I’ve had a brick & mortar shop since 2005. My oldest was leaving for college and my two girls were entering middle school and high school when I made the BIG decision to start my own shop. In the last 10 plus years the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to treat each day like a work day. Have a task list and get it done! Good luck!

  2. Thanks for sharing this glimpse! I have the same type of goal list with my art. I am behind, already, as well. I’m planning to double my art sales from last year, but did not reach January’s goals simply due to laziness. Ugh! Don’t give up! ( That’s my constant reminder in my head!)
    Laura- Sharing your story helps others.
    Have a great and productive week!
    -Trish

  3. Life is a lot of work, hard work, but you are so up to the task. Not only are you an intelligent, gifted, creative woman, wife, mother and entrepreneur, but you have the total support of your family and friends.

    We are looking forward to your new product lines and the development of your bussiness.

    Life is what you make it, take each moment to learn, create, grow and most importantly love.

  4. Hi Laura,
    Thank you for your honesty in sharing your struggles. It makes me feel normal about mine! I think you have to remember to be good to yourself! We all know that words from the outside and how they can be hurtful but we can sometimes be hurtful to ourselves with our own words. You both have created something great so far and that’s something to be so proud of! So many people have a dream to start a business and it never gets off the ground at all! You know the saying, “if your dream doesn’t scare you it’s not big enough.” You and Dana dreamt big and that’s awesome!!! I think fear is a good thing when you care so much, means you work hard!
    Way to go! Keep learning and keep dreaming!

  5. You and your family have taken a huge leap of faith and it’s got to be normal for things to be scrambled for awhile. I bet you’ll find your way though. Hang in there.

  6. Hang in there. I am knee deep in the second business I have started. It is a LOT of work. But the reward of seeing your vision come to life is so great. And you are choosing wisely- don’t neglect your teens to get ahead with the business. I have to remind myself of that daily!

  7. My dearest Laura, My heart goes out to your struggle, and the frustration of not being able to feel you are accomplishing anything. Perhaps your to-do list needs to be subdivided? Break down those big goals into smaller, monthly, then weekly goals. Add to your list a check box for “Clear up desk area” at the end of each day. Add “Family mealtime” once or twice per week, Add “Reflect on and revise list” so you are able to tweak your list to be more helpful than guilt-inducing. You are moving forward, but new endeavors take baby steps, not pogo stick leaps. We are all proud of you for continuing to soldier on! I shut down a successful business to try a new endeavor several years ago, when all three of my kids were in college, so I feel your anxiety. But my leap of faith worked, and yours will too.

  8. I believe that you care about your readers, so sharing about your struggles and not just your triumphs is important. It’s a delight to read about your wonderful business, beautiful home, and gorgeous family. But it all feels untouchable to us sometimes…the perfect life. We need to know that struggles are normal and worth it in the end. Thanks for sharing Laura.

  9. hey girl love the post! Always remember that God loves you and wants the best for you! We can always lean on him in times of need! I love the verse Be still and know that I am God! You just keep doing what you love!

  10. Well, you are in good company. I had left my Christmas decor up to celebrate with some neighbors a couple of weeks later than planned because one of their cats died at the time the holiday party was scheduled and she wasn’t in a party mood. The morning after our little soiree, my 100-year-old mother passed on. I was out of state for her funeral and related business for almost three weeks. Last Friday, the day I planned to finally take my Christmas decor down, my 83-year-old friend, who has bone cancer, had an allergic reaction to his cancer meds and we had to go to the ER, then he was put in ICU and now has graduated to a regular hospital bed for how long I don’t know. My Christmas decor is still up in my apartment and I can’t take time to dismantle it down now because I have to get all of the forms completed and supporting documentation copied in order to re-certify to continue living in my senior housing. It doesn’t get any easier! And you still have youth on your side.

  11. You are a treasure. Thanks for sharing the struggle. Everyone needs to hear that it is part if the process. And as women we especially need to hear that when we are focusing on one thing, other things can fall by the wayside! Inspiration sometimes comes in spurts and othet times we just have to hunker down and do the hard stuff. Congrats on your process!!

  12. Laura Marie,
    You do not give yourself enough credit. Balance is a farce! You take care of those you love and do what you love. Your balance is knowing what is matters most in the moment.

    Oh, and by the way, I do not feel sorry for you. I am in awe of you!!!

  13. Laura, Thank you so much for sharing. You are making great progress, just look back to where you started! We certainly don’t see your comments as complaining or being negative at all. It actually made me feel better! I am in the same spot as you, my plan for this year isn’t completely written out, and I feel like I just can’t get one of my projects accomplished. I was questioning whether or not to keep going this weekend. Your post came at such a great time, because it showed me that we all have these moments, and nothing is perfect. You have a wonderful business, and a wonderful family and support. I know that you will accomplish all that you have set out to do! God bless!

  14. Hi Laura,
    Running a business is always scary! And while you know, I’m not running my original business any more (sold it), I’m more than willing to have coffee with you and tell you how I did it. What’s been very helpful for me this year is the SELF Journal. It’s a place to write about what you want to accomplish, how you’re going to get there along with your daily triumphs and less-than-triumphs. It looks a bit daunting at first, but I’ve found it to be really helpful for keeping me more or less on track.
    Let me know about the coffee!

  15. How about writing a second “to-do” list that includes the things you do every day that are great accomplishments and that add to or support a happy & healthy life but which are often taken for granted: “Check in with the children”, “Drop off the recycling”, “Pay the bills”, “Send my niece a birthday card”, “Stop at the farm for eggs”, “Deposit money in the college account”, “Make an appointment for the cat’s rabies shot”, “Text friend to see how her visit with her grandchildren is going”,”Call Mom” …. This way you’ll be able to make some satisfying marks on the page and you’ll be reminded of all that you DID accomplish that day.

  16. Just wanted to tell you that you are blazing a trail that my husband and I hope to follow in about 7 years. Different products, but similar “big picture.” You are an encouragement, even in the struggles. It is inspiring to know that you are doing what you’re doing, not because you’ve got everything figured out, but in spite of the fact that you don’t. Keep it up! You’re doing it!

  17. No doubt unknowns are scary. Taking risks is necessary for success. It’s also hugely rewarding, no matter the outcome, because it builds confidence. This is a new chapter for you in a book that may have several chapters to come! Enjoy the process, the journey and the rest will come.

  18. Reading some of your posts in a catch up morning. I was surprised to see you say as teenagers, your kids need you a lot. That is so true but us moms of teens don’t hear that often in a positive way. We have two and the same is true.