a few weeks ago i had the opportunity to go on a little road trip with my friend ashley to a restaurant we have been oogling over on instagram forever. we finally got the chance to eat lunch at the fed community, a small business on the east side of the mitten and it did not disappoint. it is so hard to find well executed ambiance restaurants and the owner, Sarah has achieved this flawlessly. If you don’t follow her on instagram, you need to. She is so inspiring and even though we’ve never met i feel like i got to know her by visiting the well curated restaurant.
on the drive back home i kept thinking about how warm and inspired that space made me feel and that i hope and pray that my small business, the found cottage gives people the same feelings. that they can sense that i selected the products to go into the shop, that my business partners and i take great care and time to think out displays, products and train employees. that when you come in to the found cottage that you feel welcomed and that you belong in the space. it’s not easy and we don’t always succeed but we keep working at it, evolving and changing. it really got me thinking about some of the realities of owning a small business. while it is one of the most rewarding things i’ve ever done, there are some hidden truths that you are not going to hear in an uplifting boss babe podcast. i thought about some of my truths and realities since owning a business and i thought i would share some with you.
i don’t want to sound negative and this isn’t meant to be a sad brain dump (that sounded grosser than i intended) but to be honest with you about some of the struggles you might encounter while owning and operating a small business.
truth #1: if you are doing something well, new and exciting prepare to be ripped off. and it’s going to hurt. and you are going to fight not to take it personally. people are going to tell you that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. those people do not own businesses because flattery isn’t going to pay your bills. in my experience whenever something we do gets ripped off we move on to something else and take it as a sign that it’s a tired idea. i try to give people the benefit of the doubt and maybe they honestly didn’t know but sometimes it’s so blatant it stings. the best thing you can do for you and your business is see it as a challenge and overcome it by topping the original thing you created. improving it and making it even better than before.
truth #2: there will be peaks and valleys. there are days when i look at my business and just want to scrap it and start over. that i’m not inspired or i’m just flat out tired. but then there are times when my business partners and i are in a room and the ideas just start flowing and we get so excited that we leave the meeting and tear the store apart. i’m learning that it is okay to have peaks and valleys. but it is important that when you are in the valley to use that time to just let your brain rest, don’t try to force creativity because you’ll never be happy with it. valleys are a sign of exhaustion and you just need to take a step back before submerging yourself back into the business.
truth #3 you might have to be the bad guy. i hate being the bad guy. there is no pleasure in letting people go or having to enforce rules but for the sake of the success of your business you are going to have to and you are going to have to do it more than once. you have to be able to separate yourself and keep business as business. it’s harder than you think. i’m not saying you can’t be friend with your team but you have to be able to step up and direct the ship when it’s going off course.
owning a small business of any kind takes work and dedication. sweat, tears, joy and humility. it is so rewarding most of the time but sometimes you are going to have to roll up your sleeves and get a little dirty. but until then, here are some really pretty pictures of french fries and cauliflower.