Ah, the life of an entrepreneur. So glamorous! Be your own boss! Own your hours! Do what you want! Get a lambo! Buy a mansion!...ok I'm getting carried away. But you get the point. In America we hype up this idea of being an 'entrepreneur' as total freedom. And living in San Francisco - there are a lot of us! Whether moonlighting from our day job, or taking the leap and making our venture a full-time deal - being an entrepreneur is crazy. It starts off being just as (if not more) stressful as it is rewarding, but with some purposeful and mindful adjustment, the potential is there for an amazing, fulfilling and free-willed lifestyle. This is a bit personal, and quite "behind the scenes" for DOUGHP, but I hope this post helps other budding entrepreneurs to move more purposefully into this new way of living.
The first 6 months of DOUGHP absolutely flew by. It was so crazy, so awesome, and so fast - I couldn't really even stop to examine how the stress and my "all-in" mentality had begun affecting my personal life. It's only now, about a month into life with our store at The Myriad, that I was forced to stop and reflect on how well I'm adjusting to this new entrepreneurial world of mine.
After a decade of living that #cubelyfe in Corporate America, you sort of get used to a certain way of life. My life was predictable: Wake up, work out, make a smooth, catch the train, work for a bit, lunch with coworkers, work more, train home, dinner, sleep, startover. RIVITING, I know! So leaving that life for DOUGHP, I knew things would be different than my old corporate life, but I didn't realize how intentional I would need to be about adapting to these changes. The three things that are changing the game for me right now are:
Separation of Work & Life. Owning your own business can be pretty all-consuming. You've created something and its success or failures begin to define you. You pour every ounce of energy into making it successful, but without some division of your personal and work lives - you'll go crazy. (I stopped JUST shy of moving into Crazyville. I'm still a solid amount of crazy, but it's manageable and totes chill.)
"I'm gonna work from home Friday! Woo!" What used to be an exciting change of pace (and an escape from making the long haul on CalTrain), has now become the norm. Without a true 'office' to go to, in many ways my apartment turned into DOUGHP HQ -- albeit with no free food, laundry services, or sit/stand desks (Ugh, what is this dump?! Kidding.). My apartment initially started out as a storage unit, too, for our giant wooden serving cart, huge boxes of cups, and more cookie dough than any one person should ever have in their home! Slowly but surely found a home for the big equipment, and made a point to work from coffee shops much more often. I'm now making a much more conscious effort to separate my time at home to relax when I can and work out at some coworking spaces or local coffee shops. Home has begun to feel a bit more like home -- in fact, as I'm writing this, I'm looking out at the edge of Golden Gate Park, sipping some tea at Flywheel Coffee Roasters.
Another area in desperate need of some work/life separation is with personal relationships. I'm focused on becoming more mindful of when/how I talk about work-related things in front of my boyfriend and close friends. Being a sole-owner has its blessings and shortcomings at the same time. Occasionally you just NEED to hash out a new idea, issue arising, flavor you're dreaming up - but usually that person can't always be your significant other. While he loves what I'm doing with DOUGHP (and eats enough of it to feed a small army), he'll get burnt out if I am always rattling on and on about what's new with DOUGHP. Per some recent advice, we're going to try and delegate specific time to talk about DOUGHP and add in a separate No-DOUGHP-Zone for a Friday night date night routine! I'm focusing my immediate needs to brainstorm with a friend of mine who's willing/free to do so and can keep a more clear divide between relaxing time with friends and work brain.
Finding Routine in the Chaos Moving from an insanely planned & overly structured life (I used to have "Take a shower." and "Eat Breakfast" daily on my calendar). Every minute was planned out. Fast forward to owning your own company and Friday feels like Tuesday, Sunday could be Thursday - it's a whirlwind and all I could do to keep my head afloat moving as fast as I was over the last 6 months. Between meetings or running an errand, I open up my laptop and bounce around between 20 open Chrome tabs, 10 half-written emails, and a graphic design piece that's just been started. Talk about anti-productivity. I was drowning, feeling 'busy' but not productive, and had nothing to anchor or focus my time around. It was like spinning in an orbit of a million things to do and no north star. Now that things have settled and I can refocus on our growth and next steps, I realized how much I miss a routine - not the one I used to have per say, but I'm just longing for something a little more routine, a light structure for the day-to-day. So now I'm waking up at the same time each day, 6:15am. Get a workout in (if you don't do it first thing, it ain't gonna happen!). Make some breakfast. And spend the next 4 hours doing structured, focused work time; Marketing & Advertising on Mondays, Finance Tuesdays, etc. No other windows open on my computer, just a focused topic and it's accompanying to-do list. Hammer it out! This leaves the afternoons available to condense the errand-running, customer-meeting, firedrill-fixing life that can so quickly swallow up a whole day if you let it. I've also got a little built-in creativity time on Friday mornings to have something to look forward to and a promised break time to myself. Things are lookin' up!
Yelp Reviews & Daily Sales Cannot Rule Your Life We all remember that one time someone said we were ugly, or fat, or less-than. It hurt! It felt personal and it totally ruined your whole day (or longer!). Well owning a business is sort of like putting your own self-confidence up at auction and seeing what people want to say about what you've created. And honestly for DOUGHP, overall, it's good stuff! I would've closed up shop months back if this wasn't moving in the right direction, if people really couldn't get down with cookie dough like I imagined. But it's not the case. It's successful and I'm really humbled by the positive response we have received over the last 6 months. YET, day to day I have been riding an emotional rollercoaster based of those daily sales from our point-of-sale system - or a negative review on our Yelp page. CRUSHED! It didn't matter if I'd just met a couple who drove up from LA to try our cookie dough and loved it, or a new mom coming back for her 4th time that week, etc. That one, sad review would just crush my whole day. It was all I could think about, and it felt so very personal. I'd poured my heart & soul into this, so I shouldn't be surprised that an attack on the brand or our product felt like an attack on my heart & soul! A poor sales day could be right beside an unbelievably big sales day at a food festival or some large corporate catering gig we just closed. But seeing that low day totally counteracted the successes. So, in an effort to remove myself from this day-to-day ride, I'm taking advantage of the newly structured 'work time' on my calendar to look in at sales in a purposeful, actionable way. And another time to read and respond to Yelp reviews - good and bad!
So here we go! 6 months in, flying fast, and I hit a great time to reset and refocus so that I've got the mental wherewithal to really take DOUGHP to the big leagues! Best of luck to any of you out there headed on the same journey, I am here to help however I can!