March 10, 2008.
A week or so ago I was on the phone with another person like me, a mom and an entrepreneur if you will. We were going over some project we were working on and I had to interrupt the conversation. It went something like this;
"I have to go to UPS to drop off our orders."
"Don't you have a pick-up?"
"Yes, we do have a daily pick-up, but our shipping clerk is on vacation and the UPS driver has still not come to pick up our packages. And since everyone has left for the day, that means I get to deliver the packages."
"Doesn't that make you feel so small? I hate that."
Just Do the Work
Ouch! And yes, the answer is a big fat in your face YES! If you run your own business and you sell choch-keys, art, knick-knacks, whatever you sell - you get what I am talking about. I know my Fed Ex driver by first name, I know my UPS driver's day off, and my mailman's route - no I really do.
When I have to go "to the UPS store" I walk in with my packages I always want to tell them that I am the owner of the company and we have a shipping clerk, we have an warehouse, no really we do....do you know who Ellen is? I am kidding , I don't start shouting out facts about me - but it is true, I schlep a load of packages looking like Suzy McCrafty-Craftison and I am usually dragging along a child or two. I really should get over myself, I know that - it just sucks when you are handing over 45 packages for 20 minutes in the rain to the local UPS store....not my regular job.
A Real Small Business
I could rattle off all the things that I do on a daily basis that make me feel super small, and under utilized. I think it just comes with the territory of owning your own business. It also comes with my perfectionist, controlling, mommy guilt issues that I carry around on my shoulders on a daily basis too. I guess there is no perfect job out there where you love every aspect of it. I often hear "newbies" say that they so love all parts of their job. I always think, really? All parts? - I mean it's okay to put your cranky pants on every once in awhile, we promise not to take away your "Mompreneur" card.
The conversation struck a cord with me, I mean she nailed it. It made me feel soooo small. I agreed completely with her and sort of snorted that she felt the same way I did - and she had been where I am. Hand delivering our packages makes me feel soooo small. As long as we were commiserating I had to chime in with my thought;
"It just feels like 4 steps forward, and then another 2 steps back."
"Maybe that is just the way it is with small business, maybe we should expect the set-backs"
I hate to expect the worst out of my business or assume that set-backs are in my future, I really want to walk around with rose colored glasses, quote the Secret, ask the Universe for fabulous things and whistle while I work. I try to do this, I think I am mostly happy. However, it is very true that you need a back-up plan, you also need to be willing to do what it takes to get the job done. This may sound silly and so obvious, but if you are starting a business and raising children - you know that you just have to do it.
You need to put on your big girl panties, roll your sleeves up and well sometimes you need to do the dirty work. No matter how big you are (or think you are), you may need to:
- Unload 20 cases of tile
- Empty the garbage
- Vacuum the floor
- Organize the break room
- Gift wrap the packages
- Call AT&T about the phone system
- Fill out all the forms for a new vendor
- Fax and email all your channels about a price increase
- Send out your own press releases one at a time to various publications
- Clean the toilets
- Drive to the UPS Store and the Fed Ex drop-off location (my personal favorite)
Please don't think I am complaining or feeling sorry for myself - well maybe I am a tad pissy today - hence not posting for a week (please forgive). I just think that it is necessary to view all aspects of owning your own business. There may come a day when I do not still jump in and do the work, but I think it is a must that you do. It makes you remember where you came from, where you started and how far you have come.
It Had to be Done
Over Christmas our orders were piling up and there was no way our Shipping Clerk was going to be able to get them all done before our pick-ups (yes, yes I made sure that the drivers picked up over the holiday season). Our accountant, our book keeper and the woman who does Ribbon (Ribbon Artist?) all came into the warehouse and we shipped together. I am happy to say my husband even came into the office to help out with all the "stuff" we had to do.
Just like the old days, I just rolled up my sleeves, turned up the radio and I started packaging like a mad woman. I just did what I had to do. It actually felt good to be back in the trenches and working side by side - I don't want to do it every day, but it felt good to hand over all those packages. I guess small is okay.....what do you think?