Recently, the New York Times had a great article about "real life" experiences of people starting their own businesses. I had posted a link to the article on my personal Facebook page but wanted to go more in-depth in the discussion on Zoe's blog.
I really felt a great kinship with the people interviewed in this article. In some ways, my experiences have mirrored theirs and in others I've had an easier time in the transition. One big plus for me was not working my old job right up to the point where I was ready to open Zoe. When I left the job in May 2010, I knew what I wanted to do but took my time putting the pieces in place. So I did have the opportunity to get some rest and have a normal home life prior to diving headfirst into devoting most of my time to the business.
Like one of the women in the article, I do find that I continue to work on my day off. Whether it is a trip (like my recent ones to NYC and Richmond), making phone calls, sending emails, updating the website and/or social media, or coming in to the store to do much needed filing, there really isn't a day when I'm not doing something related to the store.
I could also sympathize with the woman who took Cold-Eze when she felt ill. When I first opened the store in April, I was hit with a horrible bout of allergies! I started taking Claritin regularly because I didn't want to find myself in the position of having to close the store! I'm hoping to get to the point this Fall where I can hire someone to cover Mondays and also assist on other days. That way, if something did happen to me, I could continue to keep the store open.
I laughed about the man who was not only the boss but everything else! That is truly the experience. In the course of a single morning, I wear my janitor hat, my accounting hat, my buyer hat, my technology hat, and my customer relations hat!
The demands of manual labor are also a realistic part of the job. When I first opened the store, I would go to bed before 9 pm at night, I was so tired. I spend a good part of the day on my feet. And a week like last week, where I am receiving lots of Fall clothes, unpacking, steaming, remerchandising, and preparing for the Sidewalk Sale, I find especially tiring.
Oh yes, and then there is the uncertainty! You really never know how many people are going to come into the store on a given day. And if any of them are going to be interested in what you have to offer. The most I can say about the uncertainty is that I am certain of it!
Vacation is another area that I knew would go by the wayside when I opened the business. But this is where it is different. Previously, I wanted to go on vacation to get away from work (although I typically did some work while I was gone, I got better about it in more recent years - those of you who are reading and who KNOW may beg to differ but I was better than I used to be!) Now, I don't so much need a vacation as I think it would be nice just to rest a little bit.
And that's a good segue to my point of sharing the article. Although I'd like to have a vacation, I love what I do so much that I don't need one (if that makes sense). And to a person, pretty much everyone interviewed in the article loves what they do, despite the sacrifices they have to make on a daily basis. What really stands out for me is how much I love to talk about what I do. I NEVER wanted to talk about my previous line of work, even at home or with my family. Now you can't shut me up!