So running a business isn’t easy.
In fact, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I mean, second to raising kids. But now that my littles aren’t so little anymore and can do some things around the house for themselves, like make themselves lunch (consisting of fruit snacks and butter knives dipped in Nutella), running a business is close to the top.
It is the hardest I’ve ever worked.
When you are working a corporate job, and it’s your dream to turn your hobby or side hustle into your full-time gig, you (meaning me) don’t think about the late nights, the phone buzzing in the middle of the night, the messages of packages getting lost in the mail.
And you definitely don’t think about the nights when everyone in your family is asleep, (because it’s 2:30 in the morning and everyone should damn well be asleep), but you’re still in your shop working, getting the orders made that need to ship the next day.
No, you’re thinking about the flexibility of your schedule, the potential to get more than a one percent raise each year, the time you get to decide how to spend.
And it’s true, there is that.
But there are the 2:30 in the morning’s that you are still at work and even doing that, you don’t know if you are going to catch up, going to get done what you need to get done.
I had this night four days ago.
Working in my shop, stressed out, hating the work that I loved because it was overtaking everything else. I had one huge custom order that needed to ship – the customer kept asking when it would ship without much elaboration – which I read as “I need this order as soon as you can possibly make it.” And this customer, she’s an important customer. She spends a lot of money with me and I wanted to make sure I didn’t do anything to ruin this relationship. But I didn’t see a way out – I was the one responsible for this order, and there just weren’t enough hours in the day to get it done in time.
I had arms folded on my workbench with my forehead resting on them. At 2:30 in the morning.
So, I did what I thought would be disastrous, but I did it anyway.
I wrote the customer an email.
A totally vulnerable, put-it-all-out-on -the-table email.
I told her, I am so sorry, but I cannot ship your order in time. In fact, it may not ship until next week. You see, I have lost all balance in my life. Work is outweighing everything else by about ten to one and your order hit me at a point where I pretty much have nothing left. I am so sorry. I hope you understand.
Then I pressed “Send”.
I went to bed, prepared for the reply message that would be waiting for me in my inbox.
Except no reply was there when I woke up.
Which of course gave way to worry and anxiety.
She’s had it, this customer. She’s finding someone else to source from.
I did my best to let it go and enjoy the day with my girls, even though I pretty much laid on the couch because that was all I could muster that day.
Then my phone ding’d.
It was her.
My heart began to race a little, prepared for the bad news.
I wasn’t prepared for what I read, though, when I opened the message:
“SEJA! YESSSSS! Of course love! I totally GET IT! Summer is CRAZY!!! my 3 kids are home and I babysit 3 other FULL TIME! I think i have told you but I have a small in-home daycare!”
That was her message. She went on to say that she is so crazy, working and balancing her love of jewelry, trying to turn it into her full-time gig, but running an in-home daycare until she can make jewelry full-time.
A message so full of grace and love and understanding was what greeted me, instead of everything my crazy imagination dreamt up.
I had so many emotions after reading this message.
It renewed my spirit of being a business owner, who bootstrapped it from the ground-up. And the love I had for this woman, who was still in the midst of her own boot-strapping, multiplied by about a thousand.
It renewed my love for my work, creating this business that works alongside others who are also building their dreams and trying to live a life while they do it.
And lastly, I felt ridiculous that I was such a stressed-out mess about something I had created entirely in my mind. If I was just open with this customer from the start, showing that I am human, that I can’t do it all, and set some limits at the same time, I would have prevented this whole mess to begin with.
So, here I am, embracing myself while typing with a (big) glass of wine, letting my vulnerable self be out in the open. And now I know better. And when you know better, you do better, which can maybe lead to your best.
And from now on, my best leaves the shop by 5pm.