My precious sister, Anna Davidson, who has opened her own restaurant this year in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, graciously agreed to guest post today about what she’s learned so far about running her own business.
If you get the chance, you should definitely visit her wonderful cafe, Blackberry Market.
5 Things You Should Know About Running Your Own Business
A year ago, I barely had a notion that I would own and run a business today.
Or that it would include over 40 employees and a complex system of vendors, customers, and operations. Or that this would become my full time job.
I’d always wanted to start my own restaurant or bake shop.
I’d laid some of the ground work and spent years in the industry gathering information.
But, once I started on the journey—I truly didn’t know where it would lead me. Or how quickly the whole project would take off, thanks to some amazing support and hard work from my husband.
We had our business plan, our space, and our financial start-up funding within eight weeks of deciding to pull the trigger. We had the menu, equipment, staffing, and the build-out done after another six weeks. So, in under four months, the whole project was birthed. Ready or not, we opened the doors of Blackberry Market in December of 2012.
Since parenthood has consumed my life over the last 13 years, it is an easy analogy for me.
When you decide you want to have a baby (or when it happens whether you’ve decided to or not), you have no idea how it will change your life or what your day to day work will look like. You cannot possibly fathom all the stress and complexity and joy that await you.
Running my own business has been a similar journey for me. We made plans and forecasts and goals, but honestly, I had no idea what I was getting into. And really, it’s best that way.
We’d be overwhelmed by it if we knew what was coming, in parenting and in life.
For me, I just face what I have to today, and then I do that again tomorrow.
It feels a little silly to write what I’ve learned about running a business because I still feel like such an amateur. I’m so early into this process. I’m sure I’d write completely different things a year from now. But, for what it’s worth, here are five things I know today that have helped me succeed so far.
1. A Willingness To Learn
I knew that I had a TON to learn. And I was anxious and willing to learn as quickly as possible. And, I have. I feel like I took a crash course in accounting, management, economics, stress management all at once. I always have more to learn and this has been an amazing opportunity to learn something new everyday.
2. A Great Team
I wouldn’t be able to function one day without the amazing team that supports me. My in-house employees who are brilliant, hard-working and learning alongside me have made us what we are. My external supports of a great marketing team, good accountants, consultants, vendor reps—all help me daily with areas that I knew nothing about or haven’t had time to focus on.
3. Ability To Make Hard Decisions
I’ve always been a decisive person. You won’t be waiting long behind me at an ice cream shop or in the aisles of any store. But, this has been a new ballgame. I’ve had to make difficult decisions everyday. Sometimes I have to decide between two good paths that are both appealing, or between multiple candidates for a job that are all qualified. Or when to eliminate something that I love or dreamed of, but doesn’t fit anymore. Interestingly, I’ve found that I struggle with making simple decisions after a tough day at work. Do I want rice or potatoes with dinner? Who cares? I’m losing that decisive edge!
4. Support At Home
This has been imperative to me. We had to explain to our kids how life was going to change once all of this began and I that for a while, I was going to be working more than full time. They had to be on board and they were. We had a few days early on where they asked, Will you always work this much? But, thankfully, we’ve achieved some balance. And, we have some great caretakers who have filled in some of the gaps. Also, my husband, Bob, has been the biggest cheerleader, partner and supportive force in this whole endeavor. I couldn’t bear any of it without that. If I had to face the same demands at home as I need to at work, I think I’d fall apart. But, instead I get to connect and recharge and jump in again refreshed the next day.
5. A Willingness To Fail
You can’t take a risk without that possibility. It could happen. I could fail. Some days I feel like I do. But, I pick up and learn from it and begin again. Running your own business is stressful enough. If I didn’t have the freedom to fail, it would be paralyzing. And too serious. It’s a lot more fun if I can take it lightly and walk through everyday doing my best and learning like crazy.
That’s what I know for now. There’s so much more ground to cover and things to learn in the months and years ahead. I’m looking forward to it!