September 17, 2007.
"Do you know the Stress Monster? The Stress Monster? The Stress Monster? Do you know the Stress Monster that lives very deep in my brain? Yes, I know the Stress Monster, the Stress Monster, Yes I know the Stress Monster that...." (sung of course to the tune of the Muffin Man - volunteered in the Kindergarten class, sorry)
Well - guess what? I do!! I know him! I know him well, my friend....but then again if you are an entrepreneur you would have to know that little bugger. This November I will have been in business for five years.....five long, wonderful, stressful years. I did not know him nearly as well as I thought I did - until I started my business that is. Some years we are very close, other years he does not visit that often, he really keeps his distance. However, he always loves to come for an extended stay right around the holiday season though- but who doesn't love Christmas?
This year, uh - let's just say Mr. Stress Monster has parked his big ol' Stress ass on my couch, he is watching TV, eating Cheetos, drinking beer, making a royal mess, and does not seem to be leaving anytime soon - I think he showed up around the beginning of June. The worst part of it is that sometimes he actually wakes me up in the middle of the night to discuss things (okay, truth be told he does it EVERY night around 3:00 a.m.) No, I swear I think he has moved in permanently....
All kidding aside ,the long term effects stress are known too well, and all of my friends, family members and doctor have informed me of them - they are not good. So, I had to figure out why I was so stressed:
1. No Office Coordinator It has been a little over five weeks since we (me) let our office coordinator go. And it has been five very long weeks of me doing, well what I used to do - processing orders, kitting orders, answering order questions, printing orders, checking orders, confirming orders, gift messages, emptying garbages, answering order questions......basically the stuff that I spent the last 10 months slowly removing from my plate. I have done this managing the office, processing orders thing before - and I am NOT that good at it. I do NOT want to work this many hours any more - I want to do other things. Now, before you scoff at me and assume I am a spoiled-entrepreneurial-brat, do know I CAN do it, I am just at a place (did I mention five years?) that I do not want to. Nor, do I think it is the best use of my time.
2. Atlanta Gift Show...NOT! The show did not go as planned, it was not a great show. It was a huge financial suck on the business (I did have some fun though). On a side note, I have not heard great things about the ABC Kids Expo, which I was hoping to exhibit at next year - so I do think the industry is changing. Again, this does NOT make me feel all warm and fuzzy - it scares the *8&^%$ out of me. Thank God I am immersed and heavily integrated in some wonderful websites - because the Trade Shows seem to be dwindling. If you are snubbing your nose at the Internet - be warned - the Internet is here to stay, so be niiiice.
3. Ho -Ho - Ho It's Frickin' Christmas! This is the best and worst of time for our business....best because we can do up to 40% of our sales between October and December. Worst because....well our work load doubles, then triples, then quadruples - week after week. If I am not on top of my homework/holiday/party shopping game then....well Mommy starts to get a wee bit cranky! Not complaining - it is a fact, it is part of the business, but it does stress me out.
4. Your Competition Can and Will Kill You! Okay, a bit drastic - yes, but this is the truth. While you were sleeping, or changing processes, or inking a licensing deal, some other company can and will take your business. There are business classes right now studying why some Internet companies failed and others blew the top of the Internet. I do not think competition is bad - I think copying is bad. I think that when someone or some company is slowly creeping into your space you can do one of two things; beat them to the punch, or punch them (I am kidding....but tempted). Sometimes the winner, or the success story of a given industry is NOT the trail-blazer, sometimes it is the very smart, very crude, very shrewed business woman.
From my tone you can probably tell I am tad bit irritated - and trying to SAY something but not SAYING it. No seriously - I can NOT ignore the problem (ya right, me ignore it?), or I could call them out on it (won't do much good - what will I say - you are copying me and that is NOT nice!) I will delve into this subject much more (with hopefully some experts and other like-minded people), and will not be so vague....let's just say I know who you are and I know what you are doing. Again - anyone that is not stressed out by their competition slowly creeping into their space - get your head out of the sand woman - wake up! Something needs to be done!
So, those are my top reasons - did not even delve into the soccer/start of school/bathroom remodel/dog ear problem/re-new our lease/car accident (someone hit my parked car)/family/no voice something on back of throat/student conferences......uh, oh - dang I just mentioned it! Oh well, figure we are all in the same boat!
Would love to know what you do to relieve the stress, because my answer is blogging!