How to avoid small business groundhog day!
I've never considered myself to be a business-minded person, and over the past three years I've done everything I can to actively avoid planning out the years and setting goals for how those things might eventuate. However, every year, Mr Bakedown manages to corner me into thinking about where I want to be and how I'm going to get there.
At the beginning of 2017, I was so lost. I felt like I was stumbling around in the dark trying to find a direction for the business, and my day to day was often like groundhog day—waking up, having a cup of tea, doing some emails and sitting on the couch only to realise hours later that I'd been watching re-run programs on television. I'd be left annoyed at myself for squandering away the morning. The danger of having a home run business is that it's an all too-familiar trap to fall into—and being pro-active can be a hard thing to do when you're the only one that holds you accountable for your actions.
This went on for weeks, and then months … until Mr Bakedown had enough of my self-pity, my moping and the daily "I'M SO BORED!". We sat down and wrote a plan for the year, a 3 year goal, a 5 year goal and a 10 year goal. We addressed the issues I was facing (loneliness, imposter syndrome, a lack of knowledge, a lack of finance) and how we might be able to tackle them. Somewhere along the way I decided that I wanted a production space outside of home, where I could feel more like a legitimate business with a presence rather than existing only in my head. And so I began putting feelers out (even though it was in the 5 year goal category) to see if there was anything suitable in the area.
It was a pretty disheartening hunt. I searched for about 5 months before I decided it was probably something better left on the shelf until we had more money in the bank. Everywhere I looked we were facing rent of at least $80k a year before even thinking about a fit-out—a pretty standard cost by Sydney standards but no way within our means. And then I got a reply to an email I'd sent months ago for a space right around the corner from where we live. Which long story short is now the home of our first retail space.
The space wasn't kitchen ready—it was initially two rooms that were used as a gallery, but when we had a look around I could see the potential that it had, not to mention the oodles of beautiful natural light streaming through the windows. It took us around 6 months from finding the space to finishing construction—which came with massive overwhelm (when the first wall came down), self-doubt, stress, fear and on the flip-side moments of extreme elation and excitement. There's no way to describe the rollercoaster of emotions that you experience along the way, though we had been realistic from the start, bracing ourselves for any road bumps we might hit through the construction process. Here are some pictures!
We had an amazing team behind us, mostly consisting of young small businesses like ourselves. Marc (By Design Projects) Kev, Rob and Andrew our architects (Diagonal Office) that designed the space and our wonderful foreman and joinery extraordinaire Michael (Kasten Made). Not to mention all of our incredible trades (JP, Marwan, Leon, Luke, Dom, Ryan and crew) that made the space function like a kitchen should.
It's time to do those plans for 2018 … if you're a small business out there, even if you feel like it's going to be a tedious exercise (it always is for me), it's possibly the most worthwhile thing you can do for yourself this year to avoid floundering. When you put things down in writing you have something tangible to hold yourself to and something to strive for! Happy planning!