This question, hands down, is the one I get the most. It’s asked several times daily. I hear it from family, friends, customers, and even strangers. Most ask because they care about me. Some ask because they really want to see small business survive. And a few ask because they want to hear the drama-ridden story of failure.
One gentleman a few months ago asked how I was doing and before I got a full sentence out, he told me that my business would fail. He listed through stats about how I should plan to close within a few months and told doomsday tales of several places he’d watch come and go. I smiled while he spoke and at the end I calmly said, “That’s not me.”
I’ve always been one to keep it real when sharing my experience and this blog is no different. Straight talk: the business is hard. I work every day and probably rack about 90 hours a week. This doesn’t count all the other hours where I’m still creating, plotting, and imagining. It is my life. I constantly tell people I’ve had 8 days off since December 3, 2018 and that’s not an exaggeration. Everyone in my life has sacrificed in the building of this business. If friends want to see me, they need to come to the store. Phone calls are short and always when I commute in the car. I can’t even count how many times I’ve told my children, “I have to work tonight.” All that…and I still love it.
It’s been 10 months and I have yet to pay myself. I’m constantly stressed about money and wonder how I can grow this business fast enough to keep my head above water. There have been some low points where I question if I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life by giving up the security and comfort of a steady paycheck. When this happens, my friends support with wonderful encouraging memes. Or I sit down in the store and look at the beautiful art on the walls my friends created about taking risks and following dreams. But most of the time, it’s on those days, a wonderful customer comes in with a gracious thought about why they love my bakery. I always know this is the universe’s way of whispering “keep going.”
You are the reason I know this business will thrive one day. The people who come in encourage me with sentiments about enjoying quality items and love having a place where they can visit with a friend. Numerous customers talk about how they tell everyone about Delish and encourage everyone to come try. Some even buy goods and pass them out to people who haven’t come on their own. I am so grateful for what everyone does to see this dream grow. However, the reality still is…the business is hard.
Costs are expensive and business needs to grow significantly to get to a sustainable place. (One where I won’t have panic attacks. LOL!) When people ask, “how is the business doing?” I always answer the same way, “It’s typical for first year, start up costs were much higher than planned, I know I need to be patient, and I need your help.”
How can you help? Besides the obvious of purchasing, which I greatly appreciate, there are other things you can do. Word of mouth is always helpful. When you tell your friends, they always tell me when they come in. I love seeing small town community at work. Using social media to “check in” when you visit is a big boost. It’s like a glowing sign of “this is where all the action is.” Your friends see where you are and think they want to be there, too. Lastly, you can write reviews. This is a big help for many reasons. It shares with people outside your social circle why you like Delish. Google is the main place people look up interests and that starred review pops right up when they do. They scroll through your words, photos, and see what everyone really thinks of my little bakery.
Owning a small business takes a lot of guts, work, creativity, persistence, and hope. Not to mention endless faith you’re going to make it when every statistic says you won’t. Even with all the challenges I face, I know Delish will work because it’s more than a small business. It’s more than a bakery. It’s a place built on the conviction you can do anything you set your mind to if you work hard, love others, and keep going.