I don't often go all 'philosophical' or 'foo foo' on this blog, but tonight I feel as though I must. So, dear reader, bear with me and know that I'll be back to talking about the latest cupcake tomorrow night!
Fear. I have learned that it must be a part of every new business venture. I'm feeling it these days. Although I have been blessed with a tremendous amount of business, a merchant's license, a great accountant, a supportive husband and family, a community embracing my crazy food ideas, and never ending creativity, fear looms below the surface.
I have a hunch that even Edward D. Jones, Mr. Prada, and Paula Deen struggled with this fear when they started their businesses. It's amazing what runs through your mind on a daily basis. You second-guess, question, and 'what if' yourself to death. Just today as I was going through my list of philanthropic activities for the last couple of months, I found myself wondering if I was being TOO philanthropic (as if that's even possible) and not profit-driven enough. I'm not sure I even set out on this adventure to be profit driven. Heck I just wanted a place to express my creativity and find a passion. Unfortunately, the blessing and curse of a capatilist society is that you find yourself wondering about the bottom line. Looking at your receipts versus expenditures and questioning your viability as a business.
WHO AM I??? Those of you who know me well know that I haven't a businessman's bone in my body. I ran screaming away from Mr. Lucas's and Miss Carson's room in high school because those were the places in which scary subjects like Marketing, Accouting, and Business 1 took place. BLECH! Give me the fine arts wing of the school. Plunk me into Miss Maschman's home ec classroom and then walk me to Mr. Berry and Miss Holder's rooms so I can write about what I think. But DO NOT, under any circumstances, put me into a business class.
Guess what...I'm enjoying it.
WHAT??? ENJOYING BUSINESS??? How is that even remotely possible? Well, let me tell you. Hold on for a bit of an 'Uncle Jed sitting on the porch whittlin' a stick' type story.
I was a good teacher. Honestly, I think I might have been a really good teacher. That is, when I was allowed to grow and be challenged and express my creative side. I may not have been the best about remembering to turn in my lunch count on time, and God knows I NEVER had a clue where my school keys were, but when it came to engaging kiddos in a lesson, I was your go-to gal. However, lying underneath that ability to create engaging lessons was a creative beast just waiting to be released. A thermonuclear pressure of epic proportion. Sure, I'd express creativity in my classroom...making up songs, wearing inflatable ducks around my waist to teach about the equator, etc. but it wasn't enough. The passion just couldn't find it's place. I tried going to my fine art side, becoming the resident 'funeral singer' and finding a niche at Karaoke and Rock Band. Still...not enough.
I can't tell you how many jobs I've taken, how many avenues I've persued just because I 'thought' just maybe they'd give me relieve from the creative pressures within. They certainly helped to pay the bills, gave me awesome perspectives on things about life and taught me more and more about me, but they still didn't give me that fueled passion. What was it? What was I searching for? Where would I find it?
And then it happened. The single worst day of my life, to date. My mother-in-law, a terrific, driven woman in her own right, died. Just died. No warning, no "hey guys, I'm not doing so well". No nothing. Just a 'here today, gone tomorrow' experience. It rocked my world. I have no doubt it's continuing to rock my world. Be that as it may, it gave me a little reflection time. And, due to her incredible generosity, some financial breathing room, as well. That's when the idea of 'take a year or so off' was born. Could I ever have imagined that this experience would catapult me into this immense creative phase of my life? NEVER! But, it did, and here I am in the middle of this intensely crazy, wonderful thing called business.
Wow. I love what I'm doing. I can honestly tell you that there is not a single job I've ever held that has made me happier. Is it because I'm my own boss? Sure. Is it because I'm the one picking up my kiddos after school everyday? Sure. Is it because for the first time in my life I'm combining all of my loves and doing it MY way? Absolutely.
However, as with every great endeavour comes a tremendous amount of risk, and this is where the fear comes in. My time to be successful is finite. Money is finite. Unfortunately finances don't understand creativity! I find myself worrying each day about whether or not this 'little business that could' will be enough to sustain me. Will I have enough money to keep the business alive when so many around me are failing? Have I kept my capital high enough and my overhead low enough to take care of things? Have I done enough marketing? How can I market better? AAACK! These are the questions that one would think would completely usurp the creative side of the business, and yet I find them just as exhillarating as creating a new cupcake flavor. Again, I ask the question...who IS this person who is talking about business???
I think for the first time in many, many years, when I say "it's ME", I know who 'ME' is. Wow. That's pretty damned fantastic. It makes all of the late nights of baking, all of the researching strange techniques and ordering things that look like barbaric arms used in Medieval warfare worth it!
So, perhaps I'm learning that with every great risk comes the potential for great reward. The smiles that come to the faces of people to whom I deliver are well worth the fear that lives just beneath the surface. I believe I will be successful. I believe I'll be able to continue to sustain myself without a full-time job to support this little cupcake dream.
Thanks, faithful reader, for listening to my little soliloquy (if you haven't taken Shakespeare yet, google that word...you'll learn something). Knowing that you're still reading sustains my creativity.
That's the poetic wax for tonight.