Why am I up? It’s 5:03 AM and I’m about to pour my first (of many) cup of coffee to get the day started. I’ve noticed that I’ve been asking myself this question often recently…and then little thoughts like this run across my mind, “I could still be asleep right now.” Or, “If I had a normal job I could clock in and out and not bring my work home with me.” And my favorite one, “I wouldn’t have to worry about Accounts Receivable…”
It’s almost my favorite time of year- fall (I know we’re almost halfway through October…and I live in the mountains…but, I’m technically still in the south 🙂 ) I mean, what’s not to love about sweaters, football and dark beers? It’s also an extremely hard time for me as we recently celebrated the 2 year anniversary of losing my dad and the 6th month anniversary of losing my mom. They were my biggest cheerleaders and my dad was who I leaned on for business advice. (Cancer seriously sucks).
I guess with the turning of the leaves and watching them fall, it naturally leads us to reflect on life. Or it does for me at least. Losing both parents within a year and a half of each other, running a business solo (actually two if you count my newest venture) and raising two young kids has been tough. To say I’m approaching burnout is an understatement. So, again, I ask myself, why don’t I just give up and get a “normal” job?
Surely, I’m not the only entrepreneur to ever think this…we’ve all heard the success stories of Bill Gates, Walt Disney or JK Rowling. Bill Gates had a failed business before hitting it big with Microsoft, Walt Disney was fired and told he wasn’t creative enough and JK Rowling was homeless before Harry Potter burst onto the international scene many years ago. What drove them to keep going? To not give up? What drives me?
I can promise you it’s not about the money or the “glamour” of being my own boss. Spoiler alert- it’s not all yachts and bubbly that you see on Instagram. I mean, for some, that probably is their life, but I think they are the vast minority.
When my husband and I ran our first business, a small farm and microbrewery, we would work 14 hour days and be covered in dirt + compost- super glamorous 🙂 But there was no greater feeling than seeing those veggies slowly pop-up in the spring, harvesting them at sunrise and seeing the delight people had in buying local, organic produce or meeting friends for a pint at our taproom. And now, I plug away on a computer all day with my hair in a messy bun (not the cute kind) and sometimes realize that I forgot to brush my teeth until 7 PM at night. True story. More than once.
I can also promise you that it can be a rollercoaster of emotions. Some days are amazing and some are so soul-crushingly hard you wonder how you made it through. It’s just the nature of the entrepreneurial beast.
In the summer of 2015, two of our neighbors complained about the amount of traffic we were creating in our rural community. Our persistence and hard work (and marketing) were finally paying off…But it turned ugly and we ultimately ended up closing our doors. We decided to apply for a big loan and go all in- a farm to table restaurant with small batch, specialty brewed beers. We were denied. After 7 years of busting our asses, it was all over.
That was honestly, very hard to get over. It felt like such a failure. But I realize now that it was a necessary step in the direction of my life. The experience taught me so much about running a business, resilience, time-management, forgiveness and many other life lessons…and led to my next and current venture- running my own small digital marketing business.
What I’ve noticed about entrepreneurs is that we’re a passionate, stubborn bunch. We keep going when others won’t. But why?
For me, there is honestly nothing like the feeling that I get when a client calls you and they are so excited for achieving their goal + growing their business. I have never gotten that feeling at any job that I’ve had in my life!
But, there’s more…
As I reflect, I realize that I watched my dad work his entire life- up until days before he died at 71. He commuted two hours a day and worked 8+. He taught me about hard work, but I could tell he always wanted something more. But, like many of us, was too scared to go for it. I’ve realized life is too short to NOT go for it.
Lastly, and most importantly, I want to teach my kids to never give up on their dreams, to work hard and fight for what they believe in. We set an example every day for our kids- whether it’s good or bad. They watched us fight for our small business and learned that sometimes, things don’t work out the way we plan, so we make a new plan and keep going. I want them to see me reaching my goals and dreams- that even though it’s hard, it’s worth it. I want them to know that they can do anything in life if they’re willing to work for it.
So that’s why I’m up at this ungodly hour and will continue to do it…except on Saturdays:)
Cheers to my fellow entrepreneurs and small business owners!